How to get an internship at a top tech company

how to get an internship
Here's what top tech companies like Google are looking for in their interns. Source: Noah Berger/AFP

A common conundrum for most students on summer break is how to get an internship. After all, summer is not only the best time not only to recharge from assignments and life, but also to continue learning in a way that is both productive and beneficial for your future. 

For most students, this usually takes the form of tech internships. Much of this is because employees regularly rate big tech companies as some of the best places to work at. More than that, however, are the opportunities that internships at such companies often end up opening more doors — which can do wonders in advancing your career after graduation. 

Among some of the top tech companies to apply for internships at are Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, and more. Better yet, these come in all forms — from software engineering to data science and digital marketing.

However, the process of how to get an internship at a tech company is notoriously difficult. The good news is that most of these companies — especially those on the top of the chain — advertise their internship vacancies a year in advance. 

Still, this doesn’t take away from the fact that they are incredibly competitive. For example, Google was recently found to be more selective than Harvard, speaking of the high expectations placed on every candidate considered. 

This doesn’t mean that a summer internship at a top tech company is impossible — just challenging. With that, here’s a look into how to get an internship at a top tech company as an international student: 

Applying to companies overseas might have different processes compared to that of your home country. Source: Noel Celis/AFP

How to get an internship at a top tech company

Be well organised. Any ambitious student knows that to achieve your goals, you have to not only be motivated and driven, but organised in your approach to get there. This is doubly important if you hope to land an internship at a top tech company. 

Procrastination is especially deadly at this stage. Our advice? Keep track of all the internships you hope to apply for via a spreadsheet. Gather all the materials, references and deadlines associated with them and apply accordingly. This way, you won’t be caught off-guard and will be well-prepared to meet the conditions of your application. 

Take advantage of networking opportunities. If you are an international student, you’ll be exposed to a host of resources and opportunities granted to you by your university — and this is something you should take full advantage of. 

Much of this has to do with the fact that the process of how to get an internship will most likely differ from what you might be used to in your home country. 

For example, Kanishka Agarwal, an international student who managed to land a role as a Prime Brokerage intern at Morgan Stanley in Glasgow told efinancialcareers: “There were differences in getting a job in the UK compared to the process in India, with more levels of assessment with bigger companies. Make full use of the career resources at your university. Look at the company culture and value statements and try to match these in your cover letter.”

It’s important to make sure your CV shows versatility, so that you’re always prepared to apply for a role you find interesting, regardless of how different they might be. Source: Paul Faith/AFP

Brush up your CV for multiple roles. Not every role will be the same — and because of this, you shouldn’t box yourself into one. In this, it’s important to make sure your CV shows versatility so that you’re always prepared to apply for a role you find interesting, regardless of how different they might be. 

“Your CV and cover letter need to be robust and unique for each opportunity,” Agarwal says. “It is time-consuming but really pays off. I applied for around 70 jobs. Keep applying and learn from your experiences. Apply for work experience. Network — if you can find contact details in a job ad — reach out.”

Stay up to date with your industry. The process of how to get an internship in tech is constantly evolving, which means it’s doubly important for you to always stay informed. This often means that you might have to spend extra time keeping up to date with your industry — though, if landing an internship is important to you, it will be worth it. 

“Keep up to date with market information, well beyond what you learn on your course,” Chunzhi Zhou, who successfully landed an internship at HSBC in London, shares to efinancialcareers. “For a financial sector role, you need to stand out from the competition so your knowledge should demonstrate this. 

“Different sectors have different systems of recruitment so be aware of the process and practice. Prepare thoroughly for interviews, come across confidently showing an ability to learn, as you will be expected to improve constantly.”