Landing a job as a fresh graduate in tech companies gets very competitive as leading companies hire only those with proven experience. This is where internships can help — they provide practical know-how and are an ideal opportunity to network and get your foot in the door. However, with such a vast talent pool, getting ahead of the competition isn’t always easy.
Alexandra Foote knows first-hand what a huge difference the right internship can make. The Founder of Tech Job Shop, Alexandra has built her own career by stacking her internships. Today, she guides others to securing six-figure starting salaries even before they graduate college. “Many of these companies don’t hire people without any type of experience. Usually, they have some type of project experience or previous internship experience before they make it to one of the really big companies,” she says.
The young entrepreneur certainly knows what she’s talking about. Around 18 months before graduation, she already had a full-time job offer with a salary, signing bonus, and a stock package of over $350,000. In fact, she helped hundreds of her fellow college students launch their careers before she even started charging for the service. “I had plenty of success stories that fuelled my reputation before launching Tech Job Shop,” she says.
Alexandra realized early on that her career would be an uphill battle unless she figured something out to get her foot in the door. “I got an internship with a great startup for the summer after I graduated high school and before I started at Georgia Tech,” she says. “That gave me an idea of what it was like to have an internship like a first real job.”
As a freshman, she heard other students talking about how they spent the last summer interning at Apple, Facebook, or Google. “It just made it feel very attainable, and it made me believe that it was possible for me too,” she says.
“I was paying attention to what upperclassmen were doing, reading many books, and just researching how to make this stuff pan out. I found that the earlier you start, the better off you are in the end. If you wait until your junior year, you’re already two or three years behind everyone who started early. So you’re at an extreme disadvantage if you wait until later.”
Stand Out From the Pack
While landing an internship with leading tech giants isn’t a piece of cake, it’s by no means unattainable. After all, they are on the lookout for fresh talent just as you are searching for opportunities. According to Alexandra, it’s all about ensuring that you’re being seen. And this isn’t just about good grades. Leadership skills, volunteer experience, and personal projects all speak volumes.
“Instead of telling a company what it is you can do, show them,” Alexandra says. “Your application should have links to your class projects, personal websites, and anything else you have been working on. At the end of the day, it all counts.”
Make Things Happen
According to Alexandra, landing those top-tier tech internships and careers requires commitment. And unfortunately, this means no free summers when you’re in college. “I realized very quickly that you don’t just get to take time off or get to study abroad and then hope for the best. You have to do internships,” she says. “If you waste a summer studying abroad, you’re losing time and letting other students get ahead of you.”
In Alexandra’s mind, experience at the right companies positions you for being hired for better roles with better pay and more negotiation power. She’s also adamant that there’s one path that will put you at the top of the game: internships. “I cracked the code for myself and then I was able to help other students. So it just became a very logical next step to turn it into a business,” she says.
While Alexandra says that her success required a lot of motivation and determination, she wouldn’t have been able to be where she’s today without her mentors. “Over the years, I’ve had a lot of mentors teaching and pushing me,” she says. “I don’t think there is any such thing as true self-made success — it always takes a village.”