The most important piece of advice I can offer anyone looking for an internship during college is to “be interested, not interesting.” It worked for me. Let’s flashback to my junior year in college when I was struggling to connect the post-graduation dots. At the time I was (and still am) deeply passionate about startups and venture capital and wanted to get my foot in the door at a startup.
I would routinely crawl the web for internship positions in hopes to snatch one up quickly. I found that for every startup website I visited there were only two to three engineering internship positions and nothing else. Talk about lacking major technical chops (tip: learn to program as soon as possible). It was clear that I would have to think of different ways to add value for startups to be interested in giving me an internship.
Just like any millennial equipped with Wi-Fi, I use social media primarily as a way to follow my peers and keep up on the news. When job boards weren’t cutting it, I thought to myself “why not get to know the recruiters and founders from the companies I wanted to work for on social media?”
I started researching the mega startup evaluations coming out of Utah (Domo, Qualtrics, and InsideSales.com just to name a few) and began tweeting about what I thought of Utah’s growing tech scene. I learned that by being genuinely interested in both the people and company you want to work for makes all the difference in your success of landing a college internship.
I didn’t ask for a job, startup swag or even an office tour. I just wanted to learn from them as much as I could. I didn’t have the immediate skills needed, but I had the passion to hustle to learn.
I was lucky enough to meet the right company on social media at the right time. I came across the Utah-based startup HireVue and chatted with their social media and culture team (remember to be genuine!).
As fate would have it, HireVue had an opening for a social media internship and asked if I was interested. They recognized that I was passionate about startups and interested in their company. HireVue recruited me using Twitter. A year later I have graduated from the University of Utah and have transitioned from an intern at HireVue to a full-time team member. And you guessed it, I recruit people using social media for HireVue.
The lessons I have learned throughout my experience are:
- Don’t give up, create your own opportunity.
- Add value before asking for something.
- Be interested, and not interesting.