2.2.4 Interviews for internships vs. for full-time positions

It’s typically much easier to interview for an internship and then get a return offer as a full-time employee than to interview for a full-time position directly. The interview process is a proxy to predict how well you will perform on the job. If you’ve already interned with a team, they know your ability and fit, and therefore might prefer you to an unknown candidate.

At major tech companies, intern programs exist to provide a steady, reliable source for full-time talent. An average intern at Facebook makes $8,000/month, almost twice as much as an average American full-time worker43, and Facebook isn’t even the highest bidder44. It’s hard to justify this salary unless it can offset the recruiting cost later.

The interview process for interns is less complicated because an internship is less of a commitment. If a company doesn’t like an intern, that intern will be gone in three months. But if they don’t like a full-time employee, firing that person is expensive. The number of full-time positions is subjected to a strict headcount, but the number of interns often isn’t. Even when a company freezes the hiring process, such as to cut costs, they might still hire interns.

If your internship doesn’t go terribly wrong and the company is hiring, you’ll likely get an intern-to-full-time offer. At NVIDIA, the majority of full-time offers for new graduates go to their interns. Rachelle Gupta, an ex-recruiter for Google and GitHub, wrote in one of her answers on Quora that:

Ranges [of the intern conversion rates] are between the high 60’s% and can be as high as the low 90’s% at top tech companies. I am defining conversion to mean ‘eligible to convert to full time employment’ and not just eligible for an internship next year. At Google, when a team gets an internship it comes with a full-time role that the intern can convert to.45

If you’re a student, it’s never too early to start looking for internships. It’s not uncommon to intern as high school students. However, if you’ve already passed that phase, don’t fret. This book is to help you with the process.

43: Some college internships pay twice what regular workers earn (CNBC, 2019).

44: “Snapchat interns earn $10,000 per month, plus $1,500 for housing, while Pinterest interns earn $9,000 per month, plus $1,000 towards relocation and another $3,000 for housing.

45: What are intern conversion rates at top tech companies?

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