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  • Posted a year ago

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The Internship Hunt

A few things I've learned.

By Ashwin Sreenivas

The internship hunt is extremely painful. I, for one, have spent many hours preparing for interviews, distributed hundreds of resumes, questioned my self worth and been rejected countless times. However, despite this pain, there are several advantages that an internship in industry can give you. First, you learn a lot, and you learn things that you wouldn’t in a classroom. Second, there’s a chance that you will be paid for your work. Third, and most importantly, industry experience will help you evaluate whether your career/major is something that you’re comfortable pursuing.

Underclassmen, unfortunately, are far more likely to have a harder time getting an offer than upperclassmen. As a freshman trying to give out resumes, I was constantly greeted with “sorry, we’re only looking for juniors or seniors.” In fact, I gave out over 150 resumes and got exactly two calls back. However, the important thing is that one of those calls led to an amazing internship. It doesn’t matter how many resumes you gave out, or how many interviews you got, as long as you get one offer.

If this has convinced you to apply for an internship, here are a few things I’ve learnt during my time as one of the student ambassadors for the Stanford Computer Forum. I spent over a year helping our industry affiliates recruit from Stanford, host information sessions and career fairs, and these have almost always helped students:

  • Don’t just thrust a resume in a company rep’s face

    Talk to them. They’re likely to get a ton of resumes and won’t really remember you unless you give them a reason to. If they have a reason to remember you when they pull your resume out of a stack of thousands, you’re far more likely to be offered an interview. One easy way to do this is to do your research on the company, and show interest in specific things that they do. Bonus points if you’ve also had some experience in that area. Also, always always be polite and smile.

  • Follow up

    It’s okay to ask for an email address to follow up (you’ll feel less awkward after your first few times asking). Following up after you’ve met with a company helps reiterate your interest and differentiates you from everybody else. For the skeptics – at least this won’t hurt.

  • Information Sessions

    Almost every company that recruits on campus hosts a one-hour information session at some point during the year. You get free food, and you get to meet with people from the company in a more relaxed setting than a career fair. Unless you’re meeting one of the larger companies (read Facebook, Google, McKinsey, and the like), you can expect only around 30-50 people to show up, which means there’s a good chance that you will be remembered.

  • Career Fairs

    While information sessions can give you an advantage at a specific company, there is something to be said for volume. Especially as an underclassman, it does help to throw your resume out there and see what sticks. Definitely go to these, meet the companies you’re very interested in first, and then enjoy walking around getting free stuff (and being liberal with your resume).

  • Referrals

    Get referrals - it is far easier to get a company to give you an interview if you’ve been referred by a current or former employee/intern than if you’re a strange name. Use LinkedIn and Facebook generously to find people that have worked at specific companies. Don’t be shy to ask friends to refer you; referrers often get a bonus if you sign.

  • Classes

    It is very helpful to have taken classes that companies are likely to recognize on your resume; this is especially true if you have very little experience. If you’re interested in a tech internship, this would be classes like CS 107. If you haven’t done any of these, it’s also okay to explain to a recruiter that you plan on doing them later in the year, but before your internship begins (although this is obviously not as effective).

  • Professors

    Get to know your professors. Take their classes, go to their office hours, and generally be interesting. Professors tend to have a lot of connections, that they may use to help you find a job if they like you enough.

  • Practice Interviewing

    Finally, practice interviewing a lot. Get your friends to help you – ideally people that have worked at that/similar companies. Also, never say no to an interview offer. Even if you don’t want the job, just going for the interview will be good practice for an interview where you do want the job.

Good luck out there!

In collaboration with Tau Beta Pi

Tau Beta Pi is the only honor society representing the entire engineering profession across the nation. Their chapter at Stanford strives to promote academic excellence, leadership, and continued service to the larger engineering community. They host events and organize initiatives including peer mentoring, K-12 outreach, alumni panels, CEO dinners, project fairs and more. For more info, check out tbp.stanford.edu.

Ashwin Sreenivas

Ashwin is a Computer Science major from Kerala, India. In the past, he has worked on a variety of projects ranging from small-scale websites for personal projects to cyber-risk projects for Palantir. He enjoys discussing CS, security, foreign affairs and international relations.

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