Internship Opportunities for Freshmen

By Daniela Gonzalez

Applying for technology internships as a freshman in college can seem daunting, but it’s definitely worth a shot. Although most companies offering SWE internships are looking for students with a bit more experience, many offer freshman-specific opportunities that are highly supportive and educational. Some of these programs don’t even require applicants to have declared a major or to have taken anything beyond CS106A, and all can provide you with a better understanding of what it’s like to work in tech. Here are a few to consider:

Facebook University for Engineering

Facebook University for Engineering (FBU) is a paid eight-week program in which diverse students learn mobile development in Menlo Park, CA or Seattle, WA. The program is structured such that the first three weeks consist of mobile development training, and the last five involve working in small teams to build a final mobile app. Teams are given an engineering mentor to guide them in the creation of their project, and two winning teams are chosen after demo day to have a 15-minute meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The application consists of submitting your resume, transcripts, and an answer to an essay question. A second stage involves a non-technical interview.

Google Engineering Practicum

Google Engineering Practicum (Google EP) is a 12-week program intended primarily for underrepresented students in CS. The program is available at multiple offices, including Mountain View, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago, among others. Interns get to complete a technical project related to one of Google’s product areas and work alongside other EP interns with the mentorship of Google engineers. The program also provides various opportunities for enrichment, such as the chance to attend tech talks by senior Googlers. The application consists of submitting your resume, transcripts, and answers to multiple essay questions. A second stage involves two interviews, one of which is more technical than the other. Google EP’s deadline has unfortunately already passed, but the program is also available to sophomores, so it’s something to keep in mind for next summer.

Explore Microsoft

Explore Microsoft is a 12-week program in Redmond, WA that allows interns to rotationally experience different software engineering roles. Interns receive formal training and do group project work with other Explorers. Like with FBU and Google EP, interns receive mentorship and have the opportunity to attend talks and discussions about Microsoft products. The application simply consists of submitting your resume, with a second stage involving an interview.

I worked as an FBU intern last summer and had an absolute blast. The program was a great way to learn mobile development — something that isn’t normally taught in core CS classes — while getting internship experience under my belt. My friend Maggie, a Stanford WiCS Executive Board Member, got to present her team’s winning app to Mark Zuckerberg. What I loved most about Facebook was the company’s openness with its employees — even just us FBU interns. On Fridays, Zuckerberg held company Q&As at which he would answer questions about everything from diversity initiatives to product updates. I felt like I really knew what was going on at Facebook and what direction the company was going in, even though I wasn’t working on the product myself. Another highlight, of course, was the perks. Facebook has amazing food, great athletic facilities, and shuttles to and from work. Interns get to live in corporate apartments, and the company plans plenty of social events.

One of the best things about FBU, however, is that it gives you a great shot at a return offer for a SWE internship. The program itself is a sort of application, and interns even do technical interviews in the final weeks. And FBU itself doesn’t require much prior experience — the only technical prerequisite listed on the application is “knowledge of at least one programming language.” These internships are selective, but very much within reach. If you’re looking to get a taste of the tech industry and an opportunity to learn and grow as a software engineer, I highly encourage you to apply.

Daniela Gonzalez is a Stanford sophomore pursuing a joint degree in Computer Science and English. She is a former and future Facebook intern, and currently works as a coding instructor for young children at Breakout Mentors. Daniela is deeply interested in the diversification of the tech field through the improvement of CS education.

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