As interns, we don’t often think about why companies are offering internships in the first place. We know that internships help us kickstart our careers and build valuable stills, but why do companies hire us in the first place? With the answer to this question, we should be able to leverage it to clinch internships more successfully and to understand our fundamental role as an intern.
In my experience, there are three root factors that explain why companies offer internships. I’ll start with the easy one: internships create a talent funnel for companies to fill future jobs. To think of it another way, companies are banking on us wanting to work for them in the future because we’ve interned with them.
In essence, companies are getting a cheap “test phase” for future developers, and, if it works out, the ability to convert that into a full job. It’s easy to see the allure of a system like this. An internship pre-tests us, and companies know whether we’ll perform. It’s the ultimate reference check.
The second incentive for companies to offer internships is that they’re getting cheap labor. This doesn’t always seem immediately obvious because a completely incompetent intern would logically be a drain of the company’s resources…
The search for a summer internship is a lot like a startup raising its first round of VC money: you get a lot of no’s, and you’re just looking for that one yes. It’s a long grueling process, involves loads of Excel spreadsheets, introductions, and countless meetings. However, while in the VC worlds there simply unfundable ideas, there are no unfundable people. Everyone is fit for an internship, it’s just a matter of your persistence.
I want to start by flipping how looking for an internship is normally done on its head. There is one rule, you should never apply for an internship. By that, I mean you shouldn’t log onto a company’s website, upload your cover letter and résumé, and hope. Any company with an application process like this is getting hundreds of these from MIT students with incredible manicured résumés. We don’t want to compete with that so we have to change the game.
There are four steps in getting an internship in this new paradigm: the introduction, the informational interview, the ask, and the interview-lite. This process isn’t résumé based and its often not based on your technical skills. We are all more than our résumés, but we can only explain this face-to-face.
This starts as all overly planned projects do: an Excel spreadsheet. Here I list all my family, extended fa…