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How to Land a Tech Internship — Part III — Finding Opportunities

This is part of a broader series exploring how to land a tech internship. See Part I (Knowing thy basics), Part II (Building experience. Selling yourself)…

Finally, you are ready to apply for internships. You have your fundamentals down and your resume in tip top shape. Now, you might be asking, what strategy do you use when finding opportunities? Should you apply everywhere and anywhere? Where should you interview first? There’s really no right or wrong way to go about the process, but to get to that point, you have to find opportunities. We discuss several powerful channels you can use to find internship opportunities.

Your Network — As a Referral

Referrals are the most powerful ways to find and land opportunities. If you are lucky to know someone at a place where you wish to work, then take advantage of that opportunity. This can even be a friend at your school that has previously interned at said company. Companies like to source referrals because indirectly, your referral is vouching for you. It is a high-quality filter for recruiters and another data point as to whether you would be a good fit for the company. Now, this does not mean that if you were not referred, you have a lower chance of passing an interview or being a great employee. Statistically, referral programs have proven worthwhile to companies which is why they pour out incentive bonuses to their employees for referrals. If you are lucky to have this opportunity, take it.

School Career Fairs & Job Boards

Typically, your school will have its own engineering career fair and job board. If you have a career fair, it typically will get crowded with all the big tech companies (Facebook, Google, etc) having huge lines. I’d always recommend going to a career fair in person rather than skipping to apply to these opportunities through job boards. It shows that you care and have put in effort to learn about the company. Especially, if you speak to a recruiter or an engineer in person rather than just apply through a school job board. It helps associating a name to a face and you are more likely to be remembered or noticed. In the case you go to the career fair, I would recommend making a list of companies you are interested in. If you have companies on the list that you know will get crowded, show up early to the fair and chat with them first. When speaking to a recruiter or an engineer from a company, keep in mind that they will probably talk to hundreds of other students who are going to ask very similar questions. Some engaging questions you could ask engineers are:

1/ What was your favorite project that you have worked on at Company X?
 2/ What is your day to day like?

People will remember how you made them feel, rather than what you talked about.

Your friend’s school career fair & school job board

This may seem a bit odd at first, but if your school doesn’t happen to have a career fair or job board, and you have a friend whose school does, then take advantage of that. There’s nothing that prevents you from going to that career fair or in the least, utilizing the school job board to find an opportunity. I have a friend who used another friend’s job board and found an internship by applying online through this channel. You have to get creative and hustle when you need to.

School Departments

School departments will often maintain their own sections of the school website if not their own separate website. Some departments will offer summer internships — but this is often less known than company internships. This is the strategy that worked for me my freshman year. I found an internship over the summer in our Plant Sciences department and worked as a bioinformatics intern. I got experience in processing/coding with genetic data, free housing, and got paid (win, win, and win!). This, later, helped me land an internship at Facebook. I would recommend looking at your school job boards or department job boards for any summer opportunities.

Hackathons

Recently, hackathons have gained a rise in popularity especially in the software/tech community. One of the great aspects of hackathons is that there are a lot of hackathons every year that will cover the cost of transportation and housing. By participating in a hackathon, you kill 3 birds with one stone: you get to work on an awesome project (you can put on your resume), you can meet other people (expand your network), and you can indirectly find job opportunities.

If you are interested in going this route, here are sites where you can find hackathons:

  • Mlh.io: Major League Hacking is one of the biggest hackathon organizations. You will find plenty of hackathon events here.
  • Hackalist: Also another great resource — allows simple filtering options for hackathons that are free, reimburse travel, have prizes, etc.

Cold Reach outs

If you are having trouble finding opportunities that you are interested in or want through your network and school, then another great option is cold reach outs. They may seem intimidating, but oftentimes, people are more than willing to help if you ask in the right way.

The best way to do cold reach outs is to find something that you have in common or offer something first. Don’t ask for the job indirectly, but rather, focus on learning more about the company and culture. You can’t expect someone to go out of their way and refer you, when you haven’t given them a reason to and they barely know you.

Here are several ways to connect with someone who you don’t know:

1/ Find someone at the company who is an alumni of your school. When you reach out to them, introduce yourself and tell them that you are currently a student at their alumni school and are interested in learning more about their experience at company XYZ.

2/ Find someone at the company that you have mutual connections with. This is easy to see on LinkedIn. See if you can get your mutual connection to introduce you with the goal of learning more about the company.

2/ Find someone at the company who is in your role, and see if you have anything in common ( hobbies, groups, etc). You can introduce yourself and connect with them on a personal level that way.

3/ Find university recruiters at the company and e-mail them. This has a lower probability of success compared to a career fair or a school job board, but it’s worth a try. Reach out, introduce yourself, and tell them why you would be excited to be considered for an opportunity at company XYZ. On the plus side, this saves recruiters time since you just told them that you are interested by e-mailing them.

Again, remember, your goal is to learn about the company and job, not to directly ask for a job. An opportunity will arise as a byproduct of doing this.

Offer your skills for free

Lastly, if you are having trouble finding job opportunities through any of the above channels, you may just need to gain more experience or expand your network. A great way to do both is to take the opportunity to work for free this summer. Although you may not be paid money-wise, you are being paid in a lot of other ways. You get experience that you can put on your resume, and you expand your network, and you get a reference which can later turn into a bigger opportunity.

Some ideas:

  • Someone in your network or family who is in need of a website
  • A local business that’s in need of a website
  • Your school departments — reach out to your school departments and see if they need help over the summer

Best of luck internship hunting!

Get your resume reviewed for free!

#OFFER

As a part of running this blog series, we are proud to announce that BeeHyve is offering free resume reviews! Our team consists of engineers and product managers from Facebook, Uber, and Microsoft. In total, we have reviewed over 300+ resumes, and are offering to pass our knowledge to you.

#ASK

To get your resume reviewed by me and the team:

  • Sign up for BeeHyve at www.beehyve.io. We ask that you give our community a try. It will only help you prepare for your interviews!
  • Add one awesome resource to a community of your choice.
  • Send an e-mail to friends@beehyve.io with your resume, your BeeHyveusername, and the resource you shared on BeeHyve.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, unlike Oprah or the genie in a bottle, we can not guarantee that you will get a job with our resume reviews or by just reading this blog.

Author: Vera | LinkedIn

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