Datadog Product Design Internship Application Process

datadog white logo on a purple background

On December 13, I received an offer from Datadog for the 2023 Summer Product Design Intern role.

With the economy, this year has been rough. Thus, when the recruiter told me that I got the offer, it was as if a huge rock lifted off my shoulders.

In this article, I want to share my application process and takeaways. I hope this will help whoever’s interested in applying in the future.

Timeline

  • Oct 15 / Sent out the application
  • Nov 9 / Recruiter email
  • Nov 14 / Recruiter phone screen
  • Nov 30 / Final round interview
  • Dec 13 / Offer received

What is Datadog?

Datadog is an all-in-one platform for monitoring and analytics. They give you real-time insight into your company’s entire technology stack.

datadog logo on a purple gradient background
Source

I have to say - Datadog is... complicated. It’s technical. And this is because the target users are often engineers or product managers.

datadog infrastructure page on a purple gradient background
I mean... Look at this 🤣 | Source

Anyways, let’s dive into my application timeline.

Going back in time…

October

On October 15, 2022, I cold applied for the position.

One thing to note: For the question “Anything else we should know about you”, I added three reasons why I’ll be a great fit for the role.

Maybe that helped. Maybe not. I’m not exactly sure.

Early November

I remember vividly how I felt around this time.

Very down…

I did not get any responses. I checked my email every day. No responses.

You might think

Oh, Guo… It’s early November! You still have time!

Well - yes and no.

Yes because I technically have until next summer to apply and interview. But no because seeing how bad the economy and competitive product design is getting, I was panicking inside.

Thus, when I received a Datadog recruiter’s email,

I was over the moon.
email from datadog recruiter to set up the phone screen
YESSSSSS 😭😭😭

And that’s when the process began.

Application stages

Round 1: Recruiter phone screen

In the middle of November, I hopped on a 30-min call with the Datadog recruiter.

email from datadog recruiter informing me the call time & information

How I prepared

I created an interview prep document with potential questions that may be asked. Then, I wrote out bullet points for the main questions:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why Datadog?
  • What do you hope to gain from this internship experience?
  • Tell me about your time at XYZ Company

Feel free to copy this template here!

google document of the interview prep template

Also, I chatted with past design interns - Becky Han (call) & Isabel Zhang (text). This was super helpful for me to understand how Datadog values design & the process.

Lastly, I did a ton of research on Datadog. I created a student account on Datadog and played around on the platform. I also looked over these resources:

Datadog's dash 2022 keynote graphic

What happened

It turned out to be a chill conversation. Luckily, the recruiter asked me all the main questions I prepped for.

In the end, after I asked the question:

Is there anything in my resume or background that could be concerning or that I should address?

The recruiter said there wasn’t anything concerning and I’ll be advancing to the final round!

Tip(s)

Show you did your research!

If you’ve researched the company, you should talk about it!

For instance, these are the notes I wrote for one of my points for “Why Datadog”:

The industry leader in the observability industry. As mentioned in the Dash 2022 keynote, Datadog’s mission is to be the single platform for all observability needs, and with the major updates such as the service catalog and power packs, I’m excited about Datadog’s mission in the observability industry and I want to contribute to that goal.

Treat it as a casual coffee chat

I know this is hard. Interviews are high-stake situations.

But, if you’re tense, it’s hard to be yourself. So, try to think of this call as another coffee chat.

Final Round part 1: Portfolio walkthrough & behavioral

At the end of November, I hopped on a call with a design manager for the final round, which consisted of:

  1. Part 1 [30 min] - Portfolio walkthrough & interest
  2. Part 2 [60 min] - Design exercises
email from datadog recruiter sharing the details of the final round interview

Let’s go over part 1 - "portfolio walkthrough & interest" - first.

How I prepared

Since the recruiter told me that no presentation for the portfolio walkthrough is needed, I focused on the behavioral part of part 1.

Yes - I created another interview prep doc.

What happened

Like the recruiter call, the interview felt like a casual coffee chat. The manager asked me about my past experiences and what I’m looking for at Datadog.

Then for the portfolio section, I shared my screen and walked through two projects I had. At the end of each project, the manager asked about my design decisions and the challenges I faced.

Tip(s)

Know your projects inside out

Be ready to be asked about your design decisions. Some of the questions may be:

  • Why did you do ____________?
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced?
  • Did you face any pushback? If so, how did you handle it?

In general, if you’ve put a lot of time into the project, this shouldn’t be hard.

Final round part 2: Design exercise

After part 1, we immediately jumped into the design exercise.

How I prepared

Before the final round, the recruiter sent over a prep guide for the design exercise. The guide was comprehensive in that it provided:

  • Design exercise instructions
  • Background
  • Current functionality
  • Customer feedback
  • Exercise prompt

I’m guessing the reason for this is that Datadog is a technical product. Also, the prompt tackles an existing feature that has been solved before.

datadog events page
Can you guess which feature I got...? 😵

With the help of the prep guide, I then created an entire structure for the exercise. Feel free to check it out here.

design exercise structure template
Snippet of the design exercise structure!

What happened

I followed my structure and treated the call as a team discussion. I thought out loud during the entire exercise and asked for feedback.

In the end, I came up with a potential solution that we were both satisfied with. And this marked the end of my Datadog interview!

Tip(s)

Treat this as a discussion

Again, I know it’s hard. But try to see the manager as a co-worker.

Imagine you’re already working at Datadog, how will you work with this manager?

Sometimes, feel free to ask them:

Do you think this makes sense? What do you think?

The design exercise is a two-way dialogue. So don’t be afraid to discuss with your manager anytime during the process.

Don’t jump to one solution

Do not dive head-first into one solution. Create many options, then prioritize based on their pros and cons.

Also, your solution does not have to be hi-fi. I remember my designs after the exercise were just gray boxes and bullet points.

Offer!

After a few weeks, the recruiter informed me on a call that I got the offer! 🎉🎉🎉

Gif animation of excited yellow minions cheering

Conclusion

That was Datadog’s application process in a nutshell.

It was a surprisingly short and sweet process, which I really appreciated! 

Honestly, I don’t know why they decided to reach out to me in the first place. But, I’m very grateful for Datadog being the 1st company to give me a response.

If you’re applying, I wish you the best of luck, and I'm always down to chat!

Gif animation of an American Got Talent judge saying "I'm rooting for you"

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you for being awesome and reading this far! :)

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or by email. Will love to set up a casual call and chat!

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