Guide to PEY

APPLY EARLY AND APPLY OFTEN!!!

A lot of really qualified people I know didn’t secure PEY positions because of COVID-19 causing a hiring freeze, so please make sure you apply early and often.

What is PEY?

PEY (Professional Experience Year) is an optional, 12–16 month co-op program that students at all of the University of Toronto’s campus can do after their second year of studies. Generally, most students do so after third year as most co-op positions are looking for third year students. It is focused towards those in CS and Engineering, however there are some positions available for Business and Accounting students. Check out /u/CTJEJK ‘s experiences as a non-CS/ENG student getting a data science PEY over here.

PEY stats for 2019–2020. 2018–2019 stats here
disclaimer: the credit is not useless for engineering student’s since it contributes towards their work experience requirement

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I do it?

  1. Check that the course is not core/mandatory for your POSt and is not scheduled during work hours
  2. Speak with your manager about taking the course, ensure your work will not be affected
  3. Complete the PEY course approval form
  4. Submit request along w/ completed form to pey.coop@utoronto.ca

The Application Process

You will need a resume, cover letter, and your unofficial transcript (Acorn -> Academic History -> Complete Academic History -> Download as PDF).

  • Information (Name, phone number, email, github, linkedin)
  • Education (Program, GPA, start date to expected graduation date, relevant coursework, scholarships/awards)
  • Skills (Programming languages, tools)
  • Work Experience (Job title, place of employment, length of employment, job desc points, technologies used if applicable)
  • Projects (Project title, technologies used, project description, github link)
  • Campus involvement (if applicable)
  • References available upon request
  • Should be one-page, concise
  • Descriptions should be in active voice, results oriented, such as:
  • LOOK OVER YOUR RESUME CAREFULLY. Anything on there can be questioned! If you have anything that you don’t know too well, TAKE IT OFF! If you get questioned and you don’t know it well enough, the interview might be instantly donezo for you.
  • Think about what your resume says about you. For example, I have done a good amount of mobile and web applications, so I was often asked why I wanted to work specifically in certain areas like C software development and backend, when I applied for those jobs.
  • Introduction
  • Description of past work (place of employment, job title, description of duties, what you learned)
  • Description of projects (tech stack, what you learned)
  • Conclusion with well wishes and intentions for working there

If you are not getting any interviews, there is a problem with your resume or cover letter.

The interview process for various jobs differs, which could be up to 3 or 4 rounds. Some jobs are entirely onsite, half onsite half online, or entirely online. Some things you may have to do:

  • HR Phone Call — They’ll just ask you questions that you normally fill out on the job application and whatnot.
  • Online Coding Assessment — 2 or 3 leetcode easy/medium questions completed on an online assessment site.
  • Phone/Video Interview — Same format as a normal interview, but you might have to write out code on a code sharing platform.

The Interview

Congrats, you got an interview! If it’s an on-site, you’ll receive an email notification, and you’ll have to go to the PEY job portal site -> Interviews -> Click the interview for the job -> Sign up for a time slot

  • Make sure you bring a copy of your resume! They will go over your resume with you, so it’s good to have this on hand to review.
  • Research the company and job position.
  • You should be dressed semi-formal (formal dress or suit for women, and dress/button shirt and slacks or suit +dress shoes for men). This applies even for online interviews.
  • Always be courteous to anyone you talk to, such as the receptionist.
  • Be attentive during the interview! Make eye contact and don’t be rude or condescending.
  • There’s free snacks + juice at the ECC, so if you’re nervous try to grab a bite and take deep breaths.
  • Introduction from interviews and a description of what the job entails
  • Ask you why you want to work there/for that specific position and what you know about their company
  • Overview of your resume, asking questions about previous work experience and projects
  • Soft skills questions: what would you do in X situation, name a time when Y happened and how did you react.
  • 1 or 2 technical questions done on the whiteboard
  • Opportunity for you to ask questions
  • Why did you choose to use [technology X]?
  • What project were you most proud of during your time at [workplace]?
  • What were some things that you learnt while working at [workplace]?
  • Why do you wanna work for [company]?
  • Give a time when you had an internal conflict in your team, and how did you resolve it?
  • What should you do if you have a disagreement with your manager?
  • Tell us a time when you had to work under a lot of pressure, and how you handled it.
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

Technical Portion

Remember, the most important part of answering technical questions is describing your thought process. While correctness does play a part, being able to articulate as you go along will matter a lot and can tell the employer how effective you’d be in a team. String questions are pretty popular in interviews, such as find the smallest word in a string, and then calculate its efficiency.

  1. Write out some test cases! This is a good time to make sure you understand the problem correctly with the interviewer.
  2. Come up with a solution asap, no matter how ugly. Can you think of a O(n^2) solution? That’s OK! Once again, this is a good way to confirm that you’re on the right track and can try to optimize it.
  3. Get the optimal solution. Alright — this one just takes practice, but my general procedure is to draw out the problem, see if any data structures are applicable, and think of if I’ve done something similar in leetcode/class before.
  4. Discuss time & space complexity.
  • False Coin: Let’s say we have 20 buckets containing infinite coins. Each coin weighs 1.0 g, except for the coins in one bucket, which weigh 1.1 g. Given a digital scale, how could we find which bucket contains the “false” coins with one usage of the scale?
  • Recursive Staircase: Given a staircase of N steps, and we can choose to take either 1 or 2 steps, write a function that returns the total number of ways to walk up a staircase of N steps by taking 1 or 2 steps at a time.
  • Happy Number: A number is called happy if, you continuously add the squares of its digits, ending up with “1”. Write a function that returns whether a number is happy or not.
  • Find smallest number not in list — Given a list of integers, return the smallest positive number greater than 0 that is not in the list.
  • Greatest number after inserting 5: Given an integer N, return an integer such that we insert a 5 into the number producing the greatest value.
  • Palindrome??: Given a string consisting of lowercase letters and question marks, return the palindrome if that string can be turned into a palin rome by changing the question marks into lowercase letters, and “NO” if it cannot be.
  • Buy And Sell Stock: Given an array for which the ith element of the array is the price of a stock on day i, return the days in which buying and selling would produce the greatest profit.
  • Do leetcode! Start out from the easy difficult top interview questions, and work your way up to medium!
  • Write it out on paper
  • Do mock interviews with friends

Questions

Lastly, the recruiter will ask you if you have any questions. Always have some on hand, since interviews are a two-way street. You wanna know whether you would like to there or not as much as they want to see if you’re a good candidate.

  • What do you do in a normal day?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome while working at X?
  • What is a bug/feature you are most proud of while working at X?

Conclusion

That’s everything I have, please let me know if I missed anything or can add anything. I hope this helps you guys decide whether PEY is right for you/land a PEY job!

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