Getting your first internship is HARD

How you have you found success in your interviews?

I received this question in responses to a post I made. Instead of answering it directly, I want to take a step back and answer a broader question which includes it.

How did you get your internships?

The short answer is repeated failures and learning from your failures. At the time of writing this article, I’ve completed 5 internships and failed many, many times. Let me show you what I mean.

What do you mean by repeated failures?

In my opinion, there are 2 kinds of failure related to internship/job searching. There’s failing to get the interview, and then there’s failing to pass the interview. I’ve done both of these plenty of times. I can quantify these failures with some personal statistics.

Job searching statistics

1st internship: I applied to 50 jobs (the maximum amount for the 1st round of my university’s job board). Most of these jobs had low requirements, and some of them weren’t even tech related. I only got 1 interview, and to one of the non technical jobs. Luckily, I aced it and got the job.

2nd internship: I applied to 50 jobs, mostly tech related. About half were developer roles, half were QA and other stuff. I got 6 interviews. I failed most of the interviews and only received 1 offer.

3rd internship: I applied to 40 jobs, all software developer roles. I got ~12 interviews and received 3-4 offers.

4th internship: Google host matching came through before I participated in the big job search.

5th internship: I applied to 30 software developer jobs, and only at well known companies. Think of big names like Snap, Uber, Microsoft, Facebook, etc… I had a whopping 13 interviews (13 companies, but most of them had at least 2 rounds of interviews). I received 6 offers.

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In the very beginning, I had abysmal conversion rates! Only 2% of my applications turned into interviews/offers. After a few internships, lots of failure, and lots of learning, my interview conversion rate is now above 40%, and my offer rate is 20%.

One thing that I couldn’t quantify (easily) is that the types of jobs I applied to got more and more “prestigious” with each successive internship search. This means that if I applied to the same type of companies for each job search, the difference would be even more pronounced.

Key Takeaway: Job searching gets much easier with time and experience, but the first one is really hard to get