How to get a Google Internship.

This is an excerpt from my book on getting Computer Science internships. Purchase the ebook now to learn how to get a job with companies including Google, The New York Times, and startups.

How to Apply for an Internship

It sounds simple, but I often receive questions related to the “how” of applying. There are actually a few different ways to approach companies that you are interested in working with. Depending on the type of company and who has the authority to ultimately give you an interview (or an offer) some ways may be more effective than others.

Where to Apply

First, you need to find the companies where you’d like to have an internship. Maybe you are interested in large companies, or maybe small companies. Maybe you want to work at a startup. Maybe you want to work with a consultancy. Or maybe you just want to work at a corporation that is widely known. Regardless, you should figure out what companies you are interested in, and then try to find similar companies. The key to the entire application process is tenacity. You need to keep applying until you get an offer. Don’t be discouraged if this takes some time. If you don’t get one internship, keep applying to more companies.

Location can be a huge factor in your search. Be sure to know where companies are located, and if you want to spend time in that place. Are you willing to travel? Is there a city you’ve always wanted to live in?

Where is a company located? If the company doesn’t have an about page with the information, be sure to check social media sites for locations. If you are still unsure of the location try running a whois query on the company’s domain name. Open up a terminal and type:

1
whois companyname.tld

where companyname.tld is the company’s domain name. Do not include https or anything before the name.

Once you’ve compiled a list of companies that you are interested in working with apply!

Ways to apply

1: Jobs page

The first and most typical way to apply is via the company’s jobs page.

If you’re looking for an internship at Google, they have a specific student jobs page. Many other large companies do too. Smaller companies will usually list internships alongside full time positions. Apply filling out any asked for information.

2: Cold Email

If you are looking at startups, consultancy shops, or small companies they may not list their internships. But that doesn’t mean they are not interested in having you as an intern. Find someone who works on the team and find an email address for them. If you can’t find a direct email, try going through the support contact information.

When I was looking for internships I sent cold emails to many companies. Here’s an email I wrote to 37 signals:

Hi 37signals,

I’m interested in a programming internship with you for summer 2012. I know that there have been internships last year (http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2823-summer-internships-at-37signals) but I don’t see any mention of opportunities for 2012. Is that on the way, or should I go ahead and apply through the 2011 form.

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Cheers, Evan

The additional benefit of an email like this is to get on the radar of the company. If you also apply there a job form an email like this might make them remember you.

Here is another email I sent to Disqus:

Hi Disqus,

I’m a Python programmer, Djangonaut, and web developer and I am interested in spending the summer working at Disqus.

I’ve attached a resume (PDF converted from LaTeX), but you should definitely check out my Web site: http://ecarmi.org/

I would love to chat, Evan

I attached a resume directly to the email. The next day their CEO replied saying:

Hi Evan,

Thanks for reaching out. We’d love to talk to you further about this. Where are you located currently and when would you be available?

Thanks, Daniel

Sending cold emails can be a great way of applying because it means there won’t be tons of resumes to sift through for the company. If they find you qualified (and they already know you are motivated) then they can offer you a position without much hassle.

3: API Project

If you are a more experienced programmer, or just willing to get your hands dirty, you can build a small project using the company’s product. If the company has an API you can spend a few hours hacking together something. This can be a great way to get the company’s attention.

Similarly, if there are open source projects that are maintained by the company or developers who work at the company, you could build something using those projects. Maybe even contribute back to the projects. Something as simple as a tutorial or better documentation can be a great way to help out and get the attention of the team.

You can be really creative finding a way to get the attention of a company. Your first step is just to get them to talk to you. Don’t worry about the interview until you have one scheduled.


This is an excerpt from my book on getting Computer Science internships. If you enjoyed this, buy the ebook!

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