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The Freshman Year Internship Search

by Angela Lee

I’ve recently had quite a few freshmen come to me for advice about finding a summer internship. Though I’m by no means a professional at this, I do have some experience garnered through personal trials and articles and posts read over the years; note that it’s very tech- and consulting-centered, as those are the fields I have most commonly come into contact with, but many items in the list below could be applied generally. Without further delay, here are some tips:

  1. First and foremost, recognize that it’s perfectly fine to not have an internship the summer before your sophomore year. Trust me (and an enormous chunk of people currently in amazing roles), you’ll be just fine. Now that we’ve gotten that established, let’s move on to some more actionable items.
  2. Start early! Many companies — particularly in tech and consulting — start recruiting as early as August. So, if you can, before apps even open, make a list of places you’d like to apply to and when apps open (and set reminders to yourself to apply when they do open).
  3. Before you apply anywhere, (get other people to) review your resume. For form, you can find some great templates on sites like Overleaf. For content, you can Google phrases that are a combination of keywords like “resume”, “tips”, “how”, “examples”, “tech”, etc. to find dozens of great articles with fantastic advice, read through resume-related posts and critiques on professional groups (for example, Product Buds), or — I highly recommend this one — ask your peers (particularly those who have been through the job search before) to review your resume. Whatever your resume ends up looking like, always be mindful of ATS-friendliness — essentially, companies are now using software to parse your resume for certain keywords during the application process, and if your resume is unparseable, then they likely won’t reach out to you with an interview for a position even if you are qualified. There are ATS checkers online that you can use to ensure compliance.
  4. LinkedIn is your best friend. So make sure that your LinkedIn is up-to-date and -shape; popular job application services like Workday and Greenhouse allow applicants to fill information directly from their LinkedIn (no worries about odd commas/extra spaces/other quirks from resume parsing, though again — be mindful of ATS!). Most of the jobs that I’ve applied to have been through LinkedIn, since I’ve found it to be the most comprehensive database of available positions, listing out qualifications and job descriptions in a (usually) very clear manner. A quirk that I’ve found, however, is that using the filtering (i.e. for “Internship”) may actually get rid of some great intern roles — I’ve been better off searching for “[Ideal Position] Intern” and ignoring the filtering options, though you should definitely play around and see what works for you. An added bonus of using LinkedIn is that recruiters may also reach out to you through the platform! Another great usage of LinkedIn is to see what people in internship/job positions that you are interested in did in freshman year of university (probably easier to find on the profiles of current sophomores/juniors in university); this can help whittle down your own list of places to apply to or cue you into opportunities you might (God forbid) not be able to find through Google searching.
  5. “I’ve applied to everything that I can find on LinkedIn. What next?” This bleeds a bit into the next item, but platforms like Angellist are great for finding jobs at startups that may not cross-post to LinkedIn. You can also check out sites workatastartup (YCombinator) for great job opportunities at rising companies. A quick Google search (do you see a trend here?) involving the keywords “startup” and “internship” will provide additional insights. There are also large compilations/lists/repos of job opportunities on sites like GitHub; you can also find Google Sheets with postings floating around on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  6. Whether or not you find an internship hinges on your openness to industries, companies, and pay (and, of course, your willingness to apply). There are many famous tech internships programs specifically for freshmen and sophomores (discoverable through a quick Google search) — if software, design, and other tech-adjacent fields appeal to you, give them a shot! For those interested in tech and finance, there are a variety of discovery programs (again, Google search) available that can serve as great networking opportunities and, to some extent, a stepping stone to future roles at those companies or similar ones. While it’s true that freshmen traditionally have a much better shot at the aformentioned programs compared to other roles at those companies, don’t forget that the “compared to other roles at such companies’’ part of it. For example, when it comes to things like Facebook University, you’re still competing with thousands of other freshmen and sophomores, but if you apply to a position at a startup that only has 10 other applicants — freshmen or not — you’re only competing with, well, 10 total people. So, if you’re adamant about landing an internship, be open to applying positions at smaller companies (particularly start-ups)! Additionally, startups are a great starting point to positions at larger companies, and you’ll have a lot more end-to-end responsibilities that will provide great experiences for use in answering future interview questions. As for the number of jobs applied to — the sky’s the limit! Frankly speaking, most of the people that I’ve talked to in tech — myself included — apply for upwards of 50 jobs a recruiting season.
  7. “I’ve applied on every platform I’ve been able to find. Now what?” An option now is to transition to cold emailing, which is a subject so saturated that it would take me another Medium article to even brush the surface of. There are plenty of great templates out there (again with the Google searching, yes) that you can customize for your own needs. Make sure, above all, to stay mindful and respectful of others’ time and inboxes — you don’t want to burn any potential bridges.
  8. “I’ve done everything you’ve listed out here and more, and still haven’t heard back!” Don’t panic — many jobs/opportunities can take weeks to go through applications! Also, don’t forget item 1 on this list; you’ll be just fine.

There are many more articles out there regarding the freshman year job search, but the eight items above are the things I myself found most helpful when looking for internships freshman year. Best of luck!

Angela Lee is a junior at UC Berkeley studying Computer Science and BCDI. She is a consultant on the Edmodo team this semester. In her free time, she enjoys halfheartedly following recipes while cooking, reading, and decking (yes, as a hobby).

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The leading student technology consulting organization at UC Berkeley. We combine engineering, design and business principles to create dynamic recommendations.