As this year’s summer internship period comes to a close, I wished to share the inspiring standpoint of a computer software engineering (SWE) intern that we ended up privileged to get the job done with above the earlier handful of months in the hope that it assists some others searching for or navigating their first startup tech internship. Intimidated or not certain where by to start? Browse on.

From Shreya Sridhar, SWE intern and senior at UC Berkeley learning Pc Science:

SWE, AI, ML, FAANG, startups — with all the coveted tech jargon you are certain to hear throughout recruiting time, it’s uncomplicated to get bombarded and discouraged. I know I was. As a junior in higher education, I was in the middle of the most infamous and pivotal semester, a person that would ascertain my internship for the past summer months before graduation. Alright, I could have been a tad melodramatic there, but that’s truly how it appeared, with all people around me echoing identical sentiments. In this do’s-and-don’ts guide, I will share my activities navigating the recruiting course of action and, a lot more importantly, how I built the most of my internship, giving you with precious insights and an edge into the journey.

A little bit of background about me: when I was recruiting for 2023 summertime internships, I was a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Computer Science with two prior internships less than my belt. All those internships ended up at much larger, regular businesses, and both ended up excellent ordeals. Nonetheless, living in the Bay Area and listening to the continuous talk bordering tech begin-ups coupled with the generative AI and LLM revolution, I was remaining with a significant case of FOMO. This propelled me to make it my mission to secure an internship at an AI startup.

Phase One particular: Getting the Internship

Do: Demonstrate Up

Recruiting for start-ups is very distinctive from the common Workday application→HackerRank/ CodeSignal assessment→ Job interview(s) screening approach. My major piece of guidance is to go to vocation/ start off-up fairs, hackathons, and any other occasions involving rising companies or merchandise. These events are a fantastic way to network with visionary leaders, showcase your techniques, and preserve abreast with the most recent innovation. Facial area-to-deal with connections are significantly essential in start out-ups as their lesser measurement necessitates ensuring that each personnel shares their core values to assistance build the DNA of their escalating organization.

My encounter: 1 weekday following acquiring back from an primarily grueling day of courses, I was so near to disregarding the post I experienced seen for a get started-up good and calling it a day. But if I hadn’t printed out my resumés and walked across campus, I would never ever have satisfied Aparna Dhinakaran and Jason Lopatecki, with whom I shared a incredibly inspiring conversation. Though these fairs are likely to draw huge crowds of hungry students, there is a little something exhilarating about becoming surrounded by outstanding individuals and tips. Fairly than emotion conquer soon after the truthful, I located myself emotion fairly the reverse – enthused and re-energized at the prospect of joining a get started-up. So make positive to check with your self “Why not?” the future time an prospect comes knocking. Likelihood are you are going to answer specifically why you ought to just do it.

Do: Present initiative

There’s a explanation “initiative” is a term you’ve listened to time and time once more, and which is since people acknowledge and appreciate proactive men and women. This couldn’t be more genuine for start out-ups as their employees are self-starters them selves. Following building connections at an occasion, be positive to follow up with the alternatives that excite you the most. Considering that startups are substantially more compact than common corporations, they probably don’t have a using the services of crew who sends automated e-mails to all applicants. This means you may possibly will need to make the initially transfer to get a observe-up, whether that’s in the type of a LinkedIn request or thank-you e-mail. Also keep in mind that showing initiative doesn’t halt at recruitment – preserving the very same stage of proactivity in the course of your internship as perfectly can be fruitful.

My experience: I was carefully amazed with the company’s product and could tell just how passionate the founders ended up about their mission. I made guaranteed to arrive at out about pursuing an internship and continuously expressed my interest.

Never: Assume you have to know everything to use

You really don’t need to have to know everything about an place that a start-up specializes in to show desire. However, you ought to get on each individual topic as a learning option to conduct your have investigate both equally for your personal learning and to clearly show initiative. Make confident to study by means of any means the get started-up you’re making use of to has, like their web page, weblog, LinkedIn posts, and so on. Then, request thoughts for the duration of abide by-ups and interviews where by you are genuinely curious to fill in the gaps in what you researched. Interviews can be an chance to not only showcase why you would be a superior match for the business, but to realize more about the merchandise or services the firm presents. In addition, creating confident to implement what you have learned from one particular job interview to the upcoming ensures you aren’t asking the similar concerns yet again and once again. Finally, it’s critical to assure that you are technically proficient in what you claim to know by getting important steps to keep updated (this kind of as training LeetCode, brushing up on info buildings, and knowledge the data science lifecycle).

My encounter: Even though I had taken some AI and Knowledge Science coursework in university and built types in advance of, I had no understanding of or experience with deployment within the ML lifecycle (which is not ordinarily explored in coursework but vital in sector), checking products in manufacturing, or the need to have for ML observability. Even so, I did use this excellent point termed the Web to master a lot more about these extremely subject areas in advance of my interviews. This aided me understand the product or service greater and established me up effectively to have productive and fulfilling conversations.

Phase Two: Thriving In the course of the Internship

Fantastic, with a good deal of difficult work and some luck, you have managed to snag an internship at an ML startup! Now, the authentic do the job begins…

Do: Come to be a sponge

All through your very first couple weeks at a tech startup, expect to be inundated with a deluge of info. Relatively than emotion confused, embrace the option to come to be a sponge and eagerly soak up as substantially knowledge as you can. Believe in me, this will pay out off during the relaxation of your internship. It supplies you with a stable foundation that boosts your self esteem and for that reason, empowers you to ask insightful issues and lead meaningfully in team conversations.

Fingers-on apply is a excellent way to find out, so if you have time in the course of your 1st couple weeks of onboarding, consider to check out your commence-up’s products and expertise it from a customer perspective. It’s a excellent way to present your curiosity about the merchandise, and start off-ups commonly benefit opinions from a new viewpoint.

My experience: In my initial months, I committed time to finding out about the business structure, culture, and tech stack. With the assist of the company’s assets (docs, blog site posts, guides, and the system itself), I learned about the merchandise, ML observability, and the ML toolchain in common.

Do not: Blunder everyday environment for a laid-back again perform environment

Individuals at start-ups have a tendency to gown additional casually than those people from regular businesses, swapping collared-shirts for T-shirts and slacks for denims. Owing to the flatter hierarchy, quite a few also make themselves much extra approachable – foremost to a much more inviting and “chill” environment. Nonetheless, do not mistake form, unpretentious people for being relaxed and laid-again.

My encounter: Throughout this internship, I encountered some of the most difficult workers I have observed in my experienced lifestyle. A start-up team’s motivation to excellence drives the company’s achievements, building it a fantastic blend of a helpful and extremely effective workplace.

Do: Embrace the society

Each individual startup has its personal specific lifestyle that tends to make it special. It pays to learn about a company’s core values, seeing how many others exemplify them and subsequent go well with. Though most corporations share values – like integrity, empathy, and diligence – begin-ups notably could have additional values like openness, in which they persuade interns to get to out to and community with any one. This differs considerably from a firm with hundreds of personnel and a a lot more stratified company framework.

My practical experience: Two precise mottos are “DO, not SAY” and “Keep a finding out frame of mind.” The previous is significant in proving to your staff that you are anyone who retains their word. Although words and phrases are powerful, from time to time which is all they are, so you need to again them up with your steps. I created sure that whichever I was saying in my day by day standup, I was actually undertaking. Standups are good at holding you on observe, but it’s important to make positive to often give sincere updates and supply on any guarantees built. I simply cannot stress how vital the latter motto (which is a recurring topic through this post) is. At the close of the working day, you are an intern, indicating you are there to master. Be humble, make clear what you don’t know, and study as considerably as you can in your time there, because you in all probability will not get a lot of alternatives like this.

Really don’t: Let your preceding experiences cloud new learnings

You were being selected to be an intern partly due to the know-how you have accumulated as a result of former ordeals, this kind of as coursework, personalized assignments, and earlier internships. That becoming mentioned, although it is really important to use what you previously know, it is similarly critical to manage an open up thoughts and embrace unfamiliar troubles to strike a equilibrium among the outdated and new. It is also critical to take note that ideas you’ve uncovered via coursework or a various company may well not extrapolate effectively in all scenarios.

My practical experience: Though I’m a big believer in item-oriented programming (OOP), I figured out why selected tasks may well profit from a purposeful programming strategy. If you are uncertain why a start out-up does matters in a different way from how you envisioned, be guaranteed to ask why so you can continuously increase your understanding base.

Do: Acquire Possession of Your Projects

Acquiring recurrent test-ins and open communication can showcase your do the job ethic and design and style as properly as enable you supply what is predicted of you and much more. Voice your opinion for possibilities you make, and request opinions to iteratively strengthen your get the job done.

My expertise: I produced a design knowledge generator that automates the generation of model knowledge that can be effortlessly customized by developers to emulate distinct use situations and difficulties found in the genuine globe, relating to difficulties in facts drift, general performance, and quality. In the course of my challenge, I intended tech specs for every milestone and had tech spec opinions with my supervisor.

Really don’t: Confine collaboration

While you will possibly have your palms complete with your assigned intern project, be sure to undertaking out outside of your precise team. A startup is a wonderful put to conveniently fulfill new people from various backgrounds and careers. Get edge of the reasonably flatter hierarchy to link with persons from distinct groups.

My encounter: I not only invested time doing work as an Software Engineer supporting the Fullstack workforce, but also realized how significant other teams – these as Product, Marketing, Purchaser Accomplishment, and Income – are to the accomplishment of the corporation. In the system, I was in a position to develop my business enterprise acumen and intuition. Speaking to these diverse groups and learning about pieces of the business other than tech place the work I was performing in perspective and will generally be helpful awareness to retain down the line.

Do: Enjoy the time properly-put in

Though you will work diligently to verify your match in just the business, also try to remember to have pleasurable! Test to meet up with or connect with people today in a social setting at the very least the moment. It’s enjoyable to learn about other’s pursuits and many lived ordeals, which can also support you imagine your put amid them.

My expertise: As I am crafting this submit and reflecting on my encounter, I understand just how a lot I actually realized in excess of this past summertime. It’s a great deal! Whether or not it is introducing to my expertise about tools and languages like Python, Git, and Jupyter or finding an introduction to totally new concepts like embeddings and LLMs or discovering about the commence-up’s company model, I figured out and did so a lot in these kinds of a limited interval of time – and that’s truly a as soon as in a life span prospect!


At a startup, interns frequently have an chance to make an outsized impression. So to all the possible and present-day interns out there: great luck! We are rooting for you.