Why apply while you are a student?
So this is to the students out there - b/c I feel that specifically student's in my experience can often get the interview process extremely wrong. This is just due to the lack of any real information out there, and the fact that it can be difficult to know how to prioritize interviews alongside school.
So the first misconception I want to address is that students sometimes believe they need to wait until they graduate to apply to top tech companies. And this is a HUGE MISTAKE.
And I think this stems from the idea that there's a false belief that good grades equal a good college, which in turn leads to a good job. But this is simply not true. A college degree is just the minimum requirement for most jobs. And so often, the people who do just graduate and only then start applying are not ready for the interview process at all, and are already in a difficult situation.
You also give up the fact that there is a student pipeline at these companies! Meaning they are ready to take in students as interns or new grads (which I will cover later on specific timelines). And by applying while you are a student, you will hear back at a MUCH higher response rate than people who are non-students.
For every 10 top companies I apply to, I typically hear back from 4-6, and the people I mentor have similar response rates. But if you apply to top tech companies without being at a top tech company or without a referral, response rates can drop as low as 2-5%, according to anecdotal evidence.
Being a student puts you in a hiring funnel with fewer competitors and allows you to face other inexperienced students. But if you apply from industry without standing out in some way, you'll be competing against every other professional engineer. Recruiters will have less concentrated resources to find the best candidates.
So there's a huge opportunity cost to not applying to FAANG as a student. This isn't the only path to success, and it's possible to work your way into FAANG after graduation in 1-3 years. But if you're looking to save time and optimize your chances, applying as a student is a smart move.