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How to interview for jobs in technology: U of T alumni

Tuesday's event will help U of T students interested in a tech career to navigate interviews (photo by Marcos Ojeda via Flickr)

Darryl Yao has some advice for University of Toronto students interested in pursuing a career in technology. 

“Differentiating between new graduates is a challenge for every hiring manager. Don't trust them to determine if you're a cut above the rest – prove to them that you are.”

Yao is the technical director of the Konrad Group, a global digital agency and innovation firm founded by three U of T alumni. U of T students can gather insights from Yao and department of computer science alumni Caroline Mattos, Jimoh Ovbiagele, and Dhyey Sejpal at a panel discussion on Tuesday.

Fellow panelist Ovbiagele co-founded his company, ROSS Intelligence, while at U of T.

Read more about ROSS

“U of T students are at the epicentre of the artificial intelligence revolution at one of the world's leading universities,” says Ovbiagele. “The people and organizations forming here could become the Elons and SpaceXes of tomorrow.” 

Ovbiagele, who is the chief technology officer of ROSS, has seen the company expand from Silicon Valley to Toronto, opening its ROSS North headquarters earlier this year. And the good news? The company is hiring. 

“U of T attracts and nurtures some of the most creative, talented and hard-working graduates in the world. ROSS wanted to create incredible career opportunities for these people right here in Toronto.”

Mattos, who completed computer science’s graduate program in applied computing, is a business analyst at SecureKey who has worked in the information technology sector for several years.

Her advice?  “Be yourself and answer the questions straight to the point. Do your homework and do some research to understand the company’s business, values, culture, clients,” she says. 

Sejpal, a software development engineer at Amazon in Toronto, knows all too well the challenges of technical questions. 

“Know your data structures really well. They show that you understand how to deal with different situations in an efficient manner. For more advanced interviews, dynamic programming is a must-have skill,” says Sejpal. “Try to think of it as a discussion. Be expressive, and ask questions if you have a doubt.”

The panel will be moderated by Steve Engels, an associate professor, teaching stream of computer science, who says the event – now in its sixth year – gives students a starting point in their preparations, whether it’s interviewing for a professional experience year internship, or a post-graduate job. 

“Computer science interviews are different because they're not just testing for ‘fit’ within a company, they also test technical skills in ways that resemble exam questions in data structures, algorithms and advanced computing techniques,” says Engels. 

“Some interviews involve a different interviewer each hour for a whole day and can span multiple days at a time. This is where the experience and guidance of our alumni can be invaluable.”