LINE Tokyo: My Internship Interview Experience

As a foreign student in the first year of Master’s program, finding a summer internship in Japan could be quite harsh: the Spring semester begin in April, while many companies begin accepting internship applications in May.  There are no time for adaption to the environment.

I had applied for a few companies in Japan: Yahoo! JAPAN, mixi, Inc, DeNA, Works Application and LINE Corporation. I got a sincere rejection email in Japanese for the former three. I passed the written test and entered the interview with the Works Application, only to find out that the internship was for product manager so I rejected them. LINE pays the most(400,000 JPY/month) for summer internship and accepts only 20 applicant yearly, so I did not expect much, however I am admitted into the program, life is truly magical.

At first, I applied for the “Engineer Course” internship (it is 「エンジニア就業コース」in Japanese, literally “Engineer Employment Course”, they also have short term internship: “Engineer School Course”) on 14th May, and filled in the entry form of my personal information including my university, past experience and skills.

Two weeks later, on 1st June, I have received the invitation for a programming test online, I assume they performed some filtering on the applications and I have entered the next stage successfully, it might be the best Children’s Day gift I have ever received. I have 1 week to prepare for the test.

I prepared for the online test by solving problems on Leetcode, it was not very helpful: when I finally begin the test on 7th June, the test content is nothing related to algorithms. While I cannot leak the content of test problem, it is roughly use 180 minutes to modeling a solution over given data. I passed 35 out of 40 test cases when the timer runs out.

On 13th June, I received phone call and email invitation for technical interview at the Tokyo HQ. The interview was arranged on 22nd June, I received a QR code on 21st for the visitor’s card(It can be picked up from the specialized machine at the gate by scanning the QR code).

LINE Visitor Card
Visitor’s Card

By using the visitor’s card, you can enter the LINE’s headquarter at the JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower. It does not grant your access to other parts of the office except the reception part. The visitor’s card is actually a repainted JR Suica IC card in disguise.

LINE Reception
Reception Room at LINE Tokyo

After registration with the receptionist, they will give your a numbered card and you will need to wait until they call you. The reception room is clean and comfortable, I waited about 30 minutes until they ask me to begin the interview at a smaller meeting room.  I was interviewed by two engineers, one is Japanese, another is South Korean. The technical interview at the Tokyo office is conducted in Japanese, but they allow me to use some English for technical terms that I do not know how to speak in Japanese. The interview is not as technical as I have expected, it does not involves actual programming. I had a work experience of 10 months(4 as research assistant at my bachelor’s Alma Mater and 6 at a startup company in Shenzhen as backend programmer) to fill the gap between my university graduation and entrance to the graduate school. The conversation mostly focused on my past work experience as a backend programmer, and the technology stacks they are currently using at LINE and my experience and opinions of those tools. It was a pleasure to talk to the two friendly interviewer and I was so excited to know some details of the technologies LINE is currently using. It is overall a pleasant interview experience. When the technical interview is over, I talked with a HR personnel about my expectation and requirements for the interview(I asked for accommodation in Tokyo and they agreed).

Finally, one week later, on 29th June, I got another phone call and email that notified me that I was admitted into the summer internship program. End of the story.

I hope my experience of entering the summer internship at the LINE Corporation is helpful for you, thanks for reading, you may leave some comments about your thoughts.