Freshman Advice: Summer Internships

Freshman (or sophomore) year just started and you can count all the computer science classes you’ve taken on one hand, but you’re itching to get some industry experience. First, a disclaimer: whether or not you do an internship during your underclass years does not determine your success! If school feels like a lot and you’re not ready for more work, feel free to relax or travel. Research is also an exciting opportunity (Stanford students, check out CURIS).

That said, if you are looking for a summer internship after your freshman or sophomore year but are worried about having limited experience, consider applying to the following underclassmen internship programs. Below, we’ve compiled the important deadlines and procedures, as well as some insights from WiCS members.

Facebook University

8 weeks in Menlo Park or Seattle for freshmen and sophomores. Interns spend three weeks learning iOS (Menlo Park) or Android (Seattle) development and five weeks in groups of three to create an mobile application from scratch.

Application

Timeline

  • Opens: December 1st
  • Closes: January 15th

Components

  • One-page essay question (something along the lines of “how do mobile applications or social media make the world more connected” or “other than writing code, what are other responsibilities software engineers should keep in mind”)
  • High school and college transcripts
  • Resume

Interviews

  • 1 behavioral phone interview

Tips

In answering the essay question, do some research and figure out what Facebook’s stance is. See if there are points you align with and expand on those. The phone interview is not technical, so make sure you’re ready to talk about interesting projects you’ve done, what excites you about computer science, and the like.

Words from WiCS

“Facebook University was an incredible opportunity for me to gain insight into the inner workings of a large tech company. My intern project was less time consuming than a 12-week internship project, especially since the work was split among a three-person team. Because of this, I had time to explore the city (Seattle), as well as reach out to engineers in positions outside of my manager’s team. I feel like it was a great stepping stone into the industry; I left the program with more confidence, knowledge, and a sense of certainty that CS is a path I want to take.”

- Gina, FBU 2018

Microsoft Explore

12 weeks at Redmond or Bellevue campus for freshmen and sophomores. Interns work in groups of three and rotate between program management and software engineering roles — hence the program’s name, “explore.” Interns are placed on a Microsoft team and work on projects that actually contribute to Microsoft’s business, but at a more manageable scale and stronger support system.

Application

Timeline

  • Opens: Mid August
  • Closes: rolling (but apply early!)

Components

  • Resume

Interviews

  • 1 behavioral/technical phone interview
  • 2–3 onsite technical interviews (at Redmond campus!)

Tips

Microsoft Explore fills up early, so apply as soon as possible — preferably before September.

Words from WiCS

“I had an incredible time as an Explorer Intern at Microsoft. I had the opportunity to work on AzureStack, Microsoft’s hybrid cloud solution, as both a software engineer and a program manager. Aside from learning about the cloud industry, I was able to hear from inspiring Microsoft leaders, explore the Seattle area, and meet new friends.”

- Kasey, Microsoft Explore 2018

Amazon Future Engineer Program

12 weeks at Amazon offices across the country for freshmen and sophomores. Interns work in groups of two or three on projects within actual Amazon teams. The program is relatively new (started in 2017) and so is still small and working out the kinks. In the past, AFE intern projects have largely been Alexa skills or web applications within Amazon Business, but this might change with growth of the program.

Application

Timeline

  • Opens: Late September
  • Closes: January

Components

  • Resume

Interviews

  • 2 behavioral/technical phone interviews

Tips

Amazon is huge on their Leadership Principles. Remember these for your behavioral questions, and try to sprinkle some in your answers. Your interviewers will be impressed.

Words from WiCS

“The Future Engineer program does a great job at guiding without handholding, which made for an amazing learning experience. I was extremely lost the first few weeks of my internship, but through the incredible support of my mentors, manager, and fellow interns, I managed to learn so much about software development practices and processes in the real world. Throughout the summer, I also had many opportunities to speak with different engineers working on various teams and projects, and it was extremely insightful to see such a wide-reaching company in the works.”

- Jenny, AFE 2018

Google Engineering Practicum

12 weeks at Google offices across the country for freshmen and sophomores. Interns are put in pairs (but may or may not actually work together on the same project) and are hosted by an actual team. EP tends to prioritize sophomores over freshmen. After interviews, EP interns go through host matching, which are additional interviews with specific teams; EP interns are guaranteed to be matched.

Application

Timeline

  • Opens: early September
  • Closes: rolling (but apply early!)

Components

  • 3 200-word essays (“why are you interesting in computer science,” “what diverse viewpoints can you bring to the table,” and the like) and 2 short answer questions about classes and extracurriculars
  • Resume
  • College transcript

Interviews

  • For freshmen: 2 behavioral/technical phone interviews that are heavily behavioral
  • For sophomores: 2 technical phone interviews

Tips

Through the initial essays, Google is trying to gauge interest and potential in computer science. Show passion, and tell your story of how you got interested in computer science. Once you communicate that properly through the initial application, the following interview experience is standard.

Additional Internship Programs

Our members are finite, and so is our insider knowledge. Here are a few more similar underclassmen internship programs that we unfortunately don’t have so much personal experience with. If you’ve gone through the recruitment processes or have participated in these programs, please do reach out with your experiences! We’d love to hear and include them in the blog.

  • Dropbox Launch (freshmen)
  • Two Sigma Freshman Internship (freshmen)
  • Twitter Academy (sophomores)

Best of luck!

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Stanford Women in Computer Science is a student organization that aims to promote and support the growing community of women in CS and technology.

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Stanford Women in Computer Science

Stanford Women in Computer Science

Stanford Women in Computer Science is a student organization that aims to promote and support the growing community of women in CS and technology.

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