3 Step Guide to Nail Your Internship Search
This guide is designed to increase your odds of landing an internship. We've trained thousands of college students in specialized tech (iOS, cybersecurity, interview prep) courses by partnering with top tech companies like Facebook. Over the years, we developed an understanding of what companies are hiring for and compiled this guide. You will learn the best practices to follow and common pitfalls to avoid during your internship search process.
We've compiled our insights in this step-by-step guide for you **along with a spreadsheet tracker template (see below)**. Follow these steps to kick-off your job search and set yourself up for success!
**🚀Job Application Tracker** [[Instructions are enumerated below](#Step-1-Build-a-list-of-companies-amp-roles-and-narrow-it-down-reference-columns-A-H)]
## 🔥The three steps summarized:
There are three main steps you should take to increase your odds of landing an internship. In the spirit of conciseness, we've included links to further reading or explanations in subsections. Each step corresponds to a part of our **'Job Application Tracker'** that we designed for you. Feel free to skip around to different parts based on your familiarity or readiness in each subsection.
> [Step 1](#1-Build-a-list-of-companies-amp-roles-and-narrow-it-down-reference-columns-A-H): Build a list of companies & roles intelligently
> - Be smart about the number (start with 20-30) and [sizes of companies](#Large-Mid-and-Small-Sized-Companies) (you want a mix of large, mid and small companies)
> - Narrow it down to 10-15 by priority and make sure you have a good variety (sizes, how much you want to work there, funding stage, hiring cycle, etc.)
> - Develop strategies for each application by answering questions about role requirements, your network etc.
> [Step 2](#Step-2-Tweak-your-resume-amp-cover-letter-for-each-role-reference-column-I): Get presentation ready: polish up your LinkedIn, Cover Letters & Resumes
> - Follow our check-list to make your resume & cover letter hyper-relevant for each role.
> - Did you know some companies look at your LinkedIn page even before they glance at your resume or cover letter?
> - Revise, revise and do a final grammar/spelling sweep using [Grammarly](https://www.grammarly.com/): Don't give the recruiter reasons to dismiss your application immediately.
> [Step 3](#Step-3-Apply-TRACK-Follow-up-Follow-up-Follow-up): Apply, Track, and Follow-up
> - Track your progress every step of the way using the spreadsheet template we designed for you.
> - Once you've applied your work isn't done: persistence is key! You can demonstrate how much you want a job by politely, but consistently, [following up]() on your application.
## [Step 1](#The-three-steps-summarized). Build a list of companies & roles and narrow it down (reference columns A-H)
First thing's first: you want to have a structured approach to your search or else it can become very overwhelming. To make it crazy easy for you to track, monitor and share your progress, we've designed this template. It's color-coded, has help text, and its columns match subsections throughout this guide.
**Lay the Groundwork
[Check out this "🚀 Job Application Tracker" template we've made for you!](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aDVlQjSfZmfYPY0OnwNQyawDt6U60-lf_IA4VoXpi68/copy)**
Once you open the link, click 'make a copy' and it will make you your own editable and private version! The second tab in the spreadsheet is a sample table with fake data to give you a taste of what the table
could look like.
**Be smart about your list of companies & roles**
Start with the companies you really like, then start digging! Increase your odds by aiming for 20-30 companies before narrowing down your list. [Here are a few great sites you can use to start finding open roles.](#Where-to-find-open-roles) Also, it's a good idea to have a mix of large, mid and small companies. Different sized companies have different [pros and cons](#Large-Mid-and-Small-Sized-Companies).
**Narrow Down Your List**
It's time to prioritize and narrow your list down by looking at the company sizes, types and recent funding rounds [(read why here)](#Why-care-about-recently-funded-companies). You can find most of this info on companies at crunchbase.com.
**Develop strategies based on research**
Start answering the questions in columns E:H in your tracker spreadsheet. You will start to form an approach for each company based on the research you do.
> - What are the main requirements of the role?
Write down keywords: e.g. object-oriented programming, deploying to production. This column will serve as a reference for when you're in [Step 2](https://hackmd.io/3-nvpHwjQ5y9xpcNOidNUQ?both#2-Tweak-your-resume-amp-cover-letter-for-each-role-you%E2%80%99re-applying-for-reference-column-I).
> - Who is the recruiter or person in charge of university recruiting?
This is the person you're going to want to follow-up with after you've submitted your job application
> - Who could facilitate an introduction or recommendation?
Do you know anyone at (or previously employed by) the company who could either shed more light on the role/company or do an intro recommendation? If not, can you find someone using LinkedIn, your alumni database or professors?
> - When is the company's hiring cycle?
Companies typically have different hiring cycles: early: sept-oct, regular: mar-apr. Syncing up with their schedules will help you prioritize as well.
When you're done with Step 1, your spreadsheet should looking something like this.
## [Step 2](#The-three-steps-summarized). Tweak your resume & cover letter for each role (reference column I)
**Make your application stand out: tell a compelling story**
Now's the time to polish up your application (no such thing as perfect). You want to make your story as relevant to each role as possible. You can highlight different strengths, projects or work experience you have based on each role's description (column F will now be your best friend).
For example, if a role is asking for a good team player, and you have experience working in teams (whether at university or in a job), are you demonstrating this in your resume? Are you including numbers and types (e.g. developers, engineers, business people)?
**Follow this check-list**
- **LinkedIn:** Often the first thing companies look at
- [ ] Professional Photo (no selfies, bad lighting or cropped pictures. Don't give a recruiter an easy reason to discount your application)
- [ ] List **all** work experience you've done that demonstrates: taking-initiative, creativity, hard work, quick learning and/or community development. They do not have to be only technical roles you've held.
- [ ] Use the company's LinkedIn profile for each role when possible so it shows icons and not black grey squares
- [ ] Take the extra time to optimize your Resume for each company you're applying to. Look at the job description and make sure to emphasize any skills/experience you've had that may be relevant
- [ ] Hyperlink projects when you can to showcase technical work you've done and/or initiatives you've taken that show passion!
- **Cover Letter**
- [ ] Personalize this per company. It's worth it. Mention company-specific initiatives/attributes/news updates to show you care about the company. Include what you think you can bring (not gain) from working on a team there (your key strengths/unique skills/interest in the industry)
- **Don't give recruiters an easy way to say 'Skip!'**
Remember, recruiters are sifting through hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands, of applications. They're looking for quick ways to cut their pile down. Having silly mistakes (typos, broken links) or showing sloppiness (bad formatting, no company-specific info) can be grounds for immediate dismissal.
- Absolutely no typos (use [Grammarly](https://www.grammarly.com/))
- No bad formatting
- Always hyperlink projects/work experience whenever you can demonstrate passion or some technical work you've done!
When you're done with step 2, your spreadsheet should look something like this.
## [Step 3](#The-three-steps-summarized). Apply, TRACK, Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up:
Your spreadsheet is going to be your best friend. Be diligent about tracking your progress and it will pay off.
- Column J: Record when you apply to each role
- **Track (and learn)**
- Your job isn't done when you've submitted your application; now you need to make sure to respond promptly to recruiters
- Column K: As you go, update the status from the drop-down list. This will help you know which companies are still in the running, what you need to be following-up with and what to prepare for next. I've color-coded these for you; this you can also modify from the menu: Format > Conditional formatting.
Remember, every interview, phone call, email response is an opportunity to learn. Don't be discouraged by failures - sometimes you want to wait to do the interviews for roles you want the most until you've gotten a few lower risk interviews under your belt. You'll be able to apply the best practices/nuances that you learn from each experience. Record some of the good ones in [Column L]!
- **Follow-up:** 7-10 days is a good rule of thumb
- This is how you can show interest to companies/recruiters and ensure that your application doesn't get lost in the noise.
- Being professionally persistent is an art: see [appendix X](https://hackmd.io/CYMwpgnGIIYCwFoDsBjATAZgXDEUICNgUA2BCJABmAxjSTmAFYBGIA==?both#Appendix-X0) for examples.
- Column L: This is an optional column for you to record key dates/updates. One of the most difficult parts of managing a dataset like this is keeping it up to date and knowing how each role is progressing. E.g. you can record dates you did follow-ups or heard back.
Once you're done, your spreadsheet should look something like this. Don't worry about missing/empty cells - you can gradually complete them out as you go.
### 🎯 Take a deep breath. Well done! If you've done the steps above you're already ahead of 99% of college students.
### Large, Mid and Small Sized Companies
What's the difference between large, mid-sized and small companies? Well, in a very very tiny nutshell:
- Larger companies:
- more structure and discipline
- typically clearly defined and often narrow roles
- meet many people, further away from leadership
- usually have more structured hiring processes
- it can be harder to differentiate yourself among their thousands of applicants
- you may have to do more work (find people you know in the company, do more follow-ups, get recommenders) to stand out
- Mid-sized companies:
- mixed bag: can have both the pros and cons of large or small companies
- has a good mix of structure (good management/clear roles) + flexibility (broader reach of responsibilities, ability to work closer with leadership)
- Smaller companies:
- really get to know your coworkers & leadership
- broad role scope, usually learning on the fly
- may have a less structured hiring process
- roles may be added or no longer needed without notice
- can be easier to standout or reach the person in charge
- For all: follow-ups are crucial.
- these processes take time and showing persistence can help your name stand out + demonstrate your enthusiasm for their company
### Why care about recently funded companies?
Companies that had a recent fundraising round might be high priority targets. Recent money in the bank usually means they have more $$$ to grow the company and **hire**. You can find this out very easily at [CrunchBase.com](https://www.crunchbase.com/search/organization.companies) to see company info on fundraising rounds, amount raised, company size etc.
### Where to find open roles
To find open roles, you can use sites like:
- **Google search**: [role type] + [internship] + [city]. It sounds simple, but Google sometimes lists real job openings in larger cities. Plus there are many local job aggregators that you may be able to find in your city
- **Matching sites**. Sometimes you can create a profile or 'common application' & search for companies by industry, size, location, role-type etc.
- [First Round Capital](http://firstround.com/talent/)
- [LinkedIn Jobs Search](https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/)
- Many many more: Here's a [great site for links to other job searching sites](https://skillcrush.com/2015/07/14/job-sites-to-find-your-first-developer-job/), with descriptions of types of roles
- **Reputable investment firms' portfolio companies**. This is one way to narrow down your search often well-funded/high-performing. We've listed a few here as examples. This is by no means exhaustive.
- [Kleiner Perkins](http://www.kpcb.com/companies), [Sequoia](https://www.sequoiacap.com/companies/), [First Round Capital](http://firstround.com/companies/), [A16Z](https://a16z.com/portfolio/), [Social Capital](http://www.socialcapital.com/portfolio/), [Union Square Ventures](http://www.usv.com/portfolio)
### Go above and beyond 'Follow-Up'
[Here are some good insights on how to follow up on a job application.](https://www.wayup.com/guide/the-ultimate-guide-to-following-up/) You want to balance the art of being professional, not annoying:
- Being professional is politely following up once every 7-10 days
- Being annoying is emailing them everyday demanding a response
If you have some extra time or *really* love a company, then try leveraging your network. Introductions can **incredibly powerful**; a company is more likely to hire someone who has good recommendations from someone they trust over someone they know nothing about. Networks are a powerful thing: do you know someone at those companies? Alumni? Family/friends? Professors? Can they:
- do some introductions/recommendations
- share information about working there/company culture
- share insights into their hiring process
### Prepare for the technical interview!
The truth is, your performance in school and your programming classes doesn't really correlate to the technical interview. It requires several months of additional preparation. Once you've started applying and done the bulk of the research, it's time to get ready for the technical interview.
Here are a few resources we recommend for you:
- Sign up for the [CodePath.org Advanced Interview Prep course](http://codepath.org/classes/?utm_source=Blog&utm_campaign=JobSearchTips#fourth-course)
- [GitHub repo of great study links](https://github.com/jwasham/coding-interview-university)
- [Walkthrough of the fundamental building blocks of basic algorithmic computer science topics](http://www.primaryobjects.com/2017/03/28/preparing-for-a-technical-interview-algorithms-data-structures-and-computer-science/)
- [GitHub repo of links to interview prep resources](https://github.com/andreis/interview)
- [Detailed blog post on how to prepare for the coding interview](http://louisrli.github.io/blog/2014/01/18/tips-for-computer-science-internship-interviews/#.WpBVABPwbOR)