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Intern at a YC Company (ycombinator.com)
129 points by snowmaker 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



I really like this line: Finding summer housing in the Bay Area is usually a big chore, so we’re excited to be rolling out a program (more details soon) with some great YC companies to make it easy

That will open up the internships to a larger group of students.


There should honestly be a Common App for internships: one application, a standardized coding challenge, and then interviews. TripleByte seems to be trying to do something similar for full-time, but they don't cover internships.


I think the Common App is awful. Many of my friends out of high school applied to a few colleges. I applied to 17. Why? The cost of a college app is ~$75. The Common App turns careful consideration of where you want to study into a monetary game. I was lucky to afford it. Most people can't.

As for TypeByte, I think it's okay. My girlfriend went through it, passed with flying colors and got many interviews. The problem is jobs like colleges differ vasty.

Perhaps a better solution for the problem is a meaningful certification. Then you can simply focus on the specifics of the role and company to see if it's a good fit. Determining qualification is a solved problem in many other fields.


When I was referring to CommonApp, I didn’t mean to also include along it’s heavy fee per application.

Beyond the medical field and lawyers, what other fields do you believe that qualifications is a solved problem? Mind that a certification itself can also be cost prohibitive — that’s ok if it can be amortized over many apps though.


Almost all trades have certifications.

Everything from air conditioner repairmen to physical therapists.


So you are saying the current system is better, because rich students have better chances as they can afford more applications?

The current college system in the US is entirely flawed. College education should be free and slots given based on merit and not money. What you pointed out is that this bad system already starts at the cost for an application.

University education in Germany is basically free (~300€ per year) and application costs are printing 2-3 pages and sending them in or bringing them personally. And that's only for the final step, everything else is already online.


Some slight corrections/comments (source, German who went through our education system)

1. Depending on the university, you might not even have to print anything out, I applied to TUM purely digital IIRC 2. While I was studying they abolished the study fees. What you pay is student unions dues, which depending on which state include a public transportation ticket, access to additional medical consultations and career services and other stuff 3. We can also apply for federal study aid, depending on need. I worked and had parents who could support me, so I "only" got around 6000€ for all of my studies (plus an additional 3000 for studying abroad in Switzerland for a while) of which I'll have to repay 50% interest free, less if I can pay it off in a lump sum. 4. This is a very social-democratic German perspective, but I'd argue education is a right and should be given to everyone, limited only by the available resources. Conditional on limited resources split it between prioritising need (e.g., increasing social mobility) and prioritising ROI (in a rough sense, merit)

As an aside, I will be happily corrected if this is wrong, but I remember reading that in 2012 Germany graduated almost as many engineers (3 years bachelor plus master graduates, most of whom did a bachelor before) as the US (4 year bachelor with most people not going for the master of not as part of a PhD, if I understand correctly?). While I'm sure you can't exactly equate these numbers, with population numbers of 82e6 Vs 300e6 this seemed to me like the German system was doing something right - especially given German engineers seem(?) to be well qualified in the international comparison


> 1. Depending on the university, you might not even have to print anything out, I applied to TUM purely digital IIRC

I'm also a TUM graduate. At least a few years ago, you had to send in or hand in your signed final application papers (not even all documents) to the "Immatrukulationsamt". But so much of the process is purely online, that you might have forgotten about it.


Ah, true, at the very end you print out a form, sign and then mail it or hand it over. Thanks for jogging my memory


I certainly didn't say it was better.

"Entirely flawed" is also incorrect. At least according to this UK-based ranking: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankin...

The problem in the US is that too many people go to college to study things that cannot possibly afford to repay the cost of learning those skills. High school students are lied to by making them think college is the only path to success. Many 2-year trades exist (that you can apprentice - so earn while you learn) and pay much better than the opportunities available to 4-year students.

I do believe there should some cheaper public options but the biggest problem by far is too many people buy into the "you need college to succeed" myth.


In my reply I didn't get that the "Common App" is similar or even more expensive, but reduces the effort for each application. So, yes absolutely no help in the "this costs too much to begin with" scenario and I went a little overboard with my reply.

> "Entirely flawed" is also incorrect. At least according to this UK-based ranking:

The ratings are not about cost for education and accessibility, i.e. a fair system for the population. They are about elitism.

I can't speak for other countries, but German universities are also underrated in these university rankings. Not on purpose, but because in the German system a huge part of the world class research does not happen at the universities, but at external research facilities like the Frauenhofer or Max Planck institutes. Those are afaik not included in the research and citation scores of universities.

And to come back to entirely flawed: There is also a lot of bad research happening just to boost publications and citation counts, two metrics that heavily influence the university ranking and "scientist rankings". If the university optimizes for ranking positions rather than high quality research, I would also call that a flawed system.


I think what I'm trying to get at with the Common App is that it turns a time problem into a money one. If I had to write separate essays for every college app, I could've only applied to maybe 6 or 7. Instead, I could pay money to apply to more schools.

As for the quality of the American college system. I think it's hard to argue that many of the best universities are generally in the US. (I choose the UK ranking initially b/c it was the least friendly to American Universities). Many of these universities are also public and fairly low cost. My gauge on the problem of American universities is the bubble in demand. Too many people want to go to college for skills that aren't needed widely. This demand drives up cost to its currently crazy levels and creates long term debt issues.

As for the bad research to boost publication counts, I think basically every university does that. Maybe you'd like this source better: http://www.leidenranking.com/ranking/2018/list


Someone's tried with https://www.internblitz.com/, I've never used it though and now I'm out of the university system.


February is a bit late for summer internships in my experience–most students have probably already accepted one already for fear of not having one over the summer.


+1. It's a little insane how early the internship "season" is these days (I know interns who signed offers in Aug/Sept 2018 for summer 2019 internships).

Maybe YC & YC companies can bring some order to this internship arms race by establishing clear application/decision timelines for YC companies? My sense is February is too late, but September-October applications for November decisions might work well.


Can we just push deadlines back to December? That's around the same time as most college apps are due, and they're basically the same process.


From my experience, most of the August/September signings are return offers or chance encounters for people’s “dream” company, which they are happy to accept even if it limits their options. I think the bulk of internship hiring at large companies happens in November/December.


(Also, my company Clever still has one or two internship slots for 2019! https://clever.com/about/jobs/software-engineering-intern#gh...)


This is something I see startups miss a lot and I'm sometimes surprised they are able to get good interns. Usually by the end of October and especially by the end of November most good students already have an internship lined up at some big company and I see startups that I would consider pretty high caliber recruiting interns in February.


MIT has two main career fairs: Fall and Spring (April). Fall is best for Juniors and Spring is best for Sophomores/Freshman.


How’s the quality of the companies that show up? I’ve often seen that “good” companies are less like to show up for Spring career fairs.


The difference between MITs fall and spring career fair is night and day. For the fall career fair, there's usually a long line to the gym (most of the gym is used) if you don't get there early (or go later in the day but risk recruiters being tired). The spring career fair is much smaller and if I remember correctly it is mostly comprised of research based opportunities. There isn't much presence from SV software/tech companies. I think the fall career fair is about an order of magnitude larger than the spring one.


I wouldn't say an order of magnitude, probably about 3 times the size.

As a former student and then recruiter for the SV company types, the Spring career fair was pretty good at filling up the intern roster. Definitely the fall is much much better for full-time & junior candidates.


> They’re all well-funded, growing rapidly, and have competitive salaries for interns.

Excellent. Unpaid internships should be illegal.


Actually, my understanding is that it is in fact illegal to have unpaid interns do work that you would otherwise pay someone for. Internships are for the edification of the intern, not the company. That's the reason they're allowed to exist at all in spite of minimum wage laws.

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-r...


In theory, sure, sometimes?

1) The determination if an intership covers a function they would have otherwise performed is very deferential to the company.

2) Interns do not have the resources to litigate if they believe their position is illegal. Even if they did, they would likely recover less than their costs. They also do not uniformly have access to competent labour regulators who follow-up on these matters.

3) The protections offered vary by jurisdiction as well as by industry/profession.

4) Interns also require networking and references in order to gain the full benefit of their work. Sounding the alarm on a company's hiring practices is a great way to poison the well.


Unpaid internships seem to be a way for unscrupulous companies to ensure they hire the "right kind of people" that already come from a cashed up family.


I don’t think the phenomenon of unpaid internships is primarily driven by a wish to shape wealth dynamics of society. It’s mostly about companies thinking “why pay ... when we don’t need to”. It’s still despicable because it has the same side effect in the end - only folks from wealthy families can afford to take these internships. But I thought it was worth drawing a distinction between the primary motivation and the inevitable consequences.


> I don’t think the phenomenon of unpaid internships is primarily driven by a wish to shape wealth dynamics of society.

The person you are responding to is not at all claiming the companies are driven By "altruistically" trying to shape the wealth dynamics of society.

Their claim was that the goal is to self-select for a certain type of desirable intern, not to give a certain type of person an overall economic advantage.

I don't buy that paid vs. unpaid internships offer a significant enough difference in cost to companies to be able to dismiss non-cost motivations as "not primary" without actual evidence.


For a large enough corporation, very few employees can make a significant enough difference in cost savings. Every employee moves the needle a bit and the aggregate effort of thousands of employees is significant.

With these internships, it's possible that the person in charge of hiring interns decided an easy to way to have impact is to reduce the salaries of interns. They do it and at the end of the year claim in their performance review "reduced the cost of the intern program to $0 while not compromising on quality". Great, here's your bonus.

Another possibility is that some folks need interns but don't want to go through the hassle of fighting other departments in the organisation for budget. The workaround is to offer unpaid internships that cost nothing.

And then there's just plain greed. The Kardashians run a business empire that makes hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue annually. They offered an unpaid internship as a gopher because they were stingy and knew people would do it anyway.

All of these strike me as more plausible motivations for unpaid internships rather than wanting to shape society. I'm sure that exists in some places, like elite law firms, but I think the scenarios I highlighted are much more widespread.


> All of these strike me as more plausible motivations for unpaid internships rather than wanting to shape society.

Again, nobody made the claim that the goal is to shape society.

> With these internships, it's possible that the person in charge of hiring interns decided an easy to way to have impact is to reduce the salaries of interns. They do it and at the end of the year claim in their performance review "reduced the cost of the intern program to $0 while not compromising on quality". Great, here's your bonus.

There are legal requirement for what you must do to offer an unpaid internship.

The most likely result is not a bonus, but being reprimanded / fired for switching to an illegal internship program and exposing the company to unnecessary liability and loss of reputation.

If that hiring manager is able to do this at zero additional cost while adding no legal risk and suffering no reduction in quality of work.... well they deserve that bonus.

However, this is a work of fiction and as such does nothing to support your argument.

> They offered an unpaid internship as a gopher because they were stingy and knew people would do it anyway.

You are stating this as a fact, do you have evidence for this? I find it equally plausible that the Kardashians were intentionally trying to select for fans who are loyal, devoted and well off enough to accept an unpaid internship.


You're talking past me.

GP claimed that unpaid internships are offered by folks who want to select for candidates from wealthy families. I agreed that this was possible but it was more likely that a company would want to save money. Either because every little helps, or because it makes budget planning easier. You said "big companies don't care about small savings". I pointed out a scenario where they could. You dismissed it as fiction.

You claimed that there's some massive legal risk associated with this. There isn't. If someone from the Department of Labour asks about your unpaid internship, simply say "the student earned college credit for this, so there was an educational component", even if all they did was fetch groceries for you.

You pointed out that the Kardashians could have wanted a loyal, devoted fan for their unpaid internship. Sure, that's entirely possible. That's just as valid a reason as wanting to save money. I'm sure there are plenty of companies that justify it to themselves this way. "We don't want people who are in it for the money, we want them to be really passionate about the useless widget we're building"


You seem to have issues with reading what people actually write instead of projecting the position you want to argue against on them.

> You said "big companies don't care about small savings".

I did not say that. I said that the savings are relatively small enough that you can't just assume they are the primary goal without evidence.

> You claimed that there's some massive legal risk associated with this.

I did not characterize the level of legal risk. There most certainly is some legal risk and college credit alone is not enough to absolve you of that liability. https://www.unpaidinternslawsuit.com/


All of these strike me as more plausible motivations for unpaid internships rather than wanting to shape society.

Where exactly did I say that? I'm pretty sure I didn't speak in hyperbole. Unpaid internships are a very easy way to have a large group of people remove themselves from consideration. Many of these people are considered undesirable by the people offering the internship.


"t the goal is to self-select for a certain type of desirable intern"

It's more often than not a money issue.

People don't want to pay if they don't have to.


No they shouldn't. If someone wants to work for free they should be able to.

And forcing paid internships will reduce the number of internships available.


What if someone wants to get paid ?

Well they can't because all of the other intern positions are only available for those to do it for free. So maybe don't act like interns have any real choice here.


If they value more the money than the work itself (i.e. the experience they're going to gain from doing the internship), then they won't choose to do the internship. There is a choice, it's just that nobody controls internship wages, and you can't do anything about it, even less by regulating it..


In industries with many unpaid internships, only the children of the wealthy can afford to work for free to establish themselves. This leads to those industries being (even more) dominated by the upper classes.


I grew up quite poor, and that makes this a near-and-dear issue.


Nope. Unpaid workers depress the labor market when people who need to be paid to work have to compete against people working for free. That's one reason it's illegal.


I don't agree at all.

If you allow unpaid internship, then employers will abuse this for fields where there is a lot of unemployment. And jobless people will be forced to accept those internships because they can't find any other job due to lack of experience.

Some slaves were ok to work for free and be owned by someone. Does it mean slavery should be authorized because some slaves are ok with it?


And if you ban unpaid internships, you’d likely have no intern positions at all.

Which is better? Giving the choice of an unpaid internship or no choice at all?


Yes, a company that is not willing to pay their interns a salary (which is usually rather small), probably should not offer any internship positions at all.

The only legitimate reason that comes to mind is that they actually cannot afford to pay the intern. In which case, they really should not offer any internship positions at all.


Or you could imagine that they don't have a cash flow yet, but they could offer training in exchange of salary. Why try to regulate a number ? Salaried jobs and internship are not only about money.


I don't think that a company that is so early that it does not even have enough cash flow yet to pay an intern is well equipped, and has much incentive, to train interns.

I mean, seriously now. Do you think an executive in a company that's that new and/or that strapped for cash is going to sit there one day and think "You know what's on top of my mind right now? Training an intern, showing them the ropes, offering them some quality career experience!"

My guess is that it's more along the lines of "Man, I really wish I had some cheap labor right now".


Not all company are deemed to be unicorn. You know, you could just try to create a decent business bringing decent income, and beginning by exchanging what you know to students / young adults / dropped out is a good start if you like that path. I would certainly do it if I find the right people to train, and I would have loved it to have a serious mentor earlier in my life in this way. No one here can judge or make decision for others there's so much things in life that to pretend otherwise seems silly.

EDIT : actually, now that I think of it, I know a friend who did exactly that. He even said to me that he preferred this unpaid internship to the one he got one year later, paid, but bad environment and no mentorship.


Ok, now what if I don't care about your opinion that they "should not offer any internship positions at all" and want to take the job anyway?

There are definitely points in my life where I would definitely tell someone who had an opinion like yours to go F themselves, because I want do make decisions for myself, and not have someone else get in the way of my own consenting decisions.


Driving 180mph in a residential area is not permitted in most jurisdictions.

You can decide not to care about the opinion of the legislative bodies that came up with those rule (and tell them to "go F themselves"). You can be the best driver and 100% certain that driving 180mph at this particular moment does not pose any danger. If you get caught, you are still in serious trouble.

The reason is simply that people have determined that, in most cases, driving 180mph in a residential area is not a good idea. Most probable situations where it might be a good idea, e.g. if you are doing it while driving an ambulance, are already accounted for. Not every such situation is covered by an exception, but the alternative of letting people drive 180mph in residential areas and sort it out for themselves does not work out.

If you want to live outside of society, in an anarchy where anything goes as long as two parties consent to it, you're free to move to there.


> Driving 180mph in a residential area

This is because it has a large chance of hurting people around you. not because it would hurt the individual.

> If you get caught, you are still in serious trouble.

No, actually. You will not get in legal trouble for accepting an unpaid internship.

My point being that your opinion is extremely patronizing, and that maybe you should let people decide for themselves what jobs that do or do not want to accept.

This is an especially important concept to understand, when the people that you are trying to "protect" tell you that they do not want your "protection", which involves trying to prevent them from accepting jobs that they want.


You seem to be confused who is being protected here. It's the people who do not and, most importantly, cannot accept the unpaid internship, because they cannot afford it. They are to be protected, not the affluent person that is totally cool with taking that internship slot because they have a steady source of income anyway.

In the car analogy above, they are the ones that have a large chance to get hurt by your driving.


And what I am saying is that I know multiple people, who were definitely not affluent, who fought hard to be able to break into the industry, and would be extremely insulted and upset that there are people out there who would have tried to tear these opportunities away from them, and probably permanently prevent them from breaking into the industry.

Just be careful who's opportunities and jobs you try to take away from people. That might have been their only shot.


That's under the assumption that the companies would not have offered a paid internship instead. And as said before, I don't believe that there a many legitimate reasons where a company that is able to offer proper internships is not able or unwilling to afford a meager internship salary if not for questionable motives.

(Also, what are you trying to do with the overly emotional aspect of bringing up your friends here? How is that supposed to work, should I bring up a tearjerking story of people who are "extremely insulted and upset that they were not able to afford an internship because affluent people would intern for free"? And then repeat your last paragraph, verbatim?)


I'm going to say no because your "freedom" will hurt other people.


Come on, look outside your own country. A lot of European countries banned unpaid internships (that are longer than a few weeks). And people find plenty of 3 to 6-month internships.


I think you're referring to the US, but we've already banned most unpaid internships. They're only allowed in specific circumstances, including when they're mostly educational and do not displace any potential paid workers.

That said, it's definitely underenforced. Most unpaid internships probably don't follow the rules. When it is enforced, the penalty is typically no more than a slap on the wrist + back pay at minimum wage.


[flagged]


Supply and demand ? There would certainly be less internships (not none though), so less opportunity for everyone. Some internship might get paid a little bit, that depends on the minimum internship wage, but that won't be true for all internships


forcing paid jobs will reduce the number of jobs available.

that is correct, yet totally not useful as a statement.


The comment would be useless if a salaried job / internship was only about exchanging your workforce into money. It's not. It's about experience and real-world training. Learning by doing something useful, learning how to behave in the workplace, being introduced into a new industry etc. The employee might gain something else than money in the deal.


No, just no.


I agree with this, despite the resistance it seems to be getting.

There should be a very high bar for making illegal any activity between two consenting parties where there's no obvious and severe externalities. I don't see how this harms anyone outside of the intern/company, both of which should be free to make their own decisions.


How do you feel about the minimum wage? Do you think workers who flip burgers or stock shelves have the bargaining power to reach a fair wage? In such a negotiation who will blink first, the individual, replaceable worker or the multi billion dollar corporation?


It's not always about flipping burgers or waiting tables and even those "basic" jobs needs training. Some employers don't want to deal with untrained staff, so increasing the minimum wage or making internship illegal is going to do more harm than good and the people you want to protect will have a harder time getting trained on the job


> There should be a very high bar for making illegal any activity between two consenting parties where there's no obvious and severe externalities. I don't see how this harms anyone outside of the intern/company, both of which should be free to make their own decisions.

Why is "obvious" a requirement? A hidden or indirect but severe externality is fine?


> I don't see how this harms anyone outside of the intern/company

perhaps it harms ppl who cannot afford to do an unpaid job?


Making unpaid internship illegal is not going to magically turn current unpaid internship into good jobs for everyone, quite the contrary. So in that case those people that are supposedly harmed will be even more harmed


I could not have afforded my internships, had they been unpaid. A potentially less qualified person with more affluent parents maybe would have. As it is, those internships proved to be vital to my career, and I hope the company that I ended up with is happy that they paid me my internship salary in exchange for a later employee.

But then again I went to a highly renowned university in Germany, which I also could not have afforded if it wasn't completely free.

So, I was not free to make the decision to take unpaid internships.


The university was completely free for you because someone else paid for it.

If you're not free to make the decision of internships how did you choose the company you went into ? Also, I guess the company and their managers, because they have a budget to respect, are not free either to make decision, by the same logic ?


> The university was completely free for you because someone else paid for it.

Exactly, "everyone" did. And I probably already paid it back with my taxes already. And, one can dream, maybe in another way too, through the work I perform.

Had university or my internships been very costly, it's not unfathomable that I would have a lower salary, in addition to performing lower-quality work (in terms of knowledge going into it).


There would be others way to monetize and fund education / scholarships. The money that you won't pay in taxes could go somewhere else. There could be more businesses trying to improve the education field, which would be very useful seeing what we learn in our currently heavily subsidized schools/universities.


You mean like the model that exists for US universities? No thank you. I had quite a good experience with the public higher education system in Europe, and would want as many people as possible to be able to participate in it as well. Education should not be limited to wealthy people, and pretending that offering soul and finance crushing debt opportunities can counteract that imbalance is naive at best and malicious at worst.

I am done discussing with you. The viewpoints that you have presented so far seem shortsighted and detrimental to society to me. Luckily, you are unlikely to have any effect on standing law.


There are extremely obvious negative externalities, though. That's why minimum wage laws exist in almost every country in the world.


But there are obvious and severe externalities as mentioned by some other comments...


These are software engineering internships, where top firms pay interns around $10,000 a month. Ethics aside, it wouldn't be in a company's best interest to offer unpaid internships because they wouldn't get any good candidates.


> top firms pay interns around $10,000 a month

Source ?


Intern at a top tech company like Google or FB, and (I’ve heard as of this year) you’re looking at like $8-$9k/month plus housing and even your laundry taken care of for you (specifically FB here).

Meanwhile, the top HFs and prop traders will pay the same or better (often higher pay, no housing). Jane Street is a big one (esp. if you go to Brown), Citadel isn’t even top-notch and will offer that, and then obviously D.E. Shaw, Renaissance, Two Sigma, and so forth.


Two Sigma and Jane Street are known to pay their dev interns $10.4k monthly ($125k annualized). You can find this in #talkpay on Twitter and on Quora, and I can corroborate one of them. I don't think those are the highest, either.


Allegedly they've increased it to 12.5k this year


The # sounds about right, I work at a big well known company.


Check Glassdoor if you doubt it.

Numbers probably aren't including housing, which in Silicon Valley puts a ~$7500 monthly salary roughly up to $10k.


I always wonder if unpaid internships function like a cartel. As soon as an employer offers $$ for a given internship, do they undermine everyone else? It seems like a huge disadvantage to let the talent go where the money is when you offer experience in place of a paycheck.


Depends on what people are looking for... If I had to choose between a recently-funded startup offering 600 USD a month for grunt work with founders I don't like, compared to unpaid internship with founders (self funded) I like, seems to explain technical stuff very well, in technologies I am interested into, I would choose the latter.


If the company is so early that you cannot even afford them a meager internship salary, then what you need is co-founders, not interns.


How can you make that decision for other people ?


The same way that society decides that people are not allowed to defecate on the street, no matter how much they think it's a good idea: By issuing legislation.


Yeah you're right, let's legislate on every little things we don't like in life. I hate people wearing sandals and socks, let's ban this bad fashion yay !


Technically, unpaid internships ARE illegal, if, among other things,"the employer providing the training derives immediate advantage from the activities of the intern", or the intern's work is used as a substitute for work that would otherwise be paid.

https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-r...

Unless a Trump Department of Labor changes it's mind about implementation again, I guess. There was some point in the last decade where the Dept of Labor got more serious about enforcing this, not sure the current enforcement environment.


That would depend on what one means by internship.

If the institution doesn't care and the company expects the intern to do work they'd expect from an (however underperforming) employee, which is what all too often happens, then the case is clearcut and I fully agree.

But if the institution expects the company to show the student around and give them a lot of tutoring, then the case is less clearcut. I've mentored a few interns in that scenario myself, and it can easily take a day per week on average. Requiring companies to pay such interns more than something symbolic can make the companies a lot less willing to take interns to begin with. The side effect of that is that it then reenforces the early career problem of "all jobs require x years experience; how am I to get those years of experience if I can't apply to any job?"


In California, at least, they are


I disagree very strongly with this.

As a YC founder who's raised millions of dollars and employs dozens of people, I got my start - and may not be where I am now - without an unpaid internship.


There's nothing noble about the theft of labor. Internships can and do exist with fair wages.


No one stole anything. Two adults came to a mutually agreeable arrangement in which labour would be provided in exchange for training. Theft would at the least require that someone was deceived.

Unpaid internships are a vastly lesser evil than demanding a four year degree for an entry level job. Those four years could have been spent earning as well as learning. A six month unpaid internship is a hell of a lot cheaper than an associate’s degree, never mind a Bachelor’s.


Unpaid labor is wage theft.


They already are, and shouldn't be


Where do I report ethics violation (promised vague conditional pay and unpaid internship) at YC company? Would this stripe YC membership from an offending founder?


This looks like a great opportunity! I am a graduating high school senior and will be enrolling in an undergraduate Computer Science or Computer Engineering program in the fall. Is it still possible to apply through this application?

Thanks!


Yep! I did an internship at a startup after my senior year of high school - it was awesome.


Thank you so much!


Can I apply from outside the USA?


Yes, few countries are listed in the blog


My younger brother is in his second year of comp sci. I was wondering if has enough skills to be considered. If not, what do you guys recommend for him to work on?

This is a copy of his CV: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1shLwzU4egTm-DSt9eBRfhun87_r...


Your brother should remove 12 Rules For Life from the list of books read. It cannot possibly help and will plausibly hurt with HR. Don’t signal political views or cultural affiliation unless you’re going to signal you’re of the left.


He could easily get an internship at Facebook (non-YC) or maybe Airbnb (YC). He definitely has enough skills to get a good internship.


It's hard to get the attention of the recruiters at those companies in my experience.


I would say he has enough skills to get an interview at those companies. Solving coding interview questions is a skill that has very loose correlation with any side project/real work experience IMO.


Why do I have to be a student to qualify?


What's your current situation? While exceptions exist, internships are usually designed for full-time students who are supposed to go back to school in the fall. If you don't have a hard commitment like that, companies would typically prefer to just hire you full-time.


I've been working full time as a mobile developer for 2 years after dropping out of college nearly immediately and attending a bootcamp the subsequent summer.


I was in a similar situation as you and had the same thought about applying for internships. I had a non-CS background, was a couple years out of school, doing work that barely qualified as software development in a mediocre environment. I felt stuck and was jealous of friends still in school who seemingly breezed into Facebook and Google internships (etc.) which I wasn't even allowed to apply for. Meanwhile, trying to apply full-time to any top companies would result in automated rejection.

There is a well-oiled machine for scooping up thousands of talented CS students and funneling them into positions at top companies, but if you are on a slightly different path it is easy to be overlooked by the recruiting machine.

What eventually worked for me was continuously trying to get into companies that were better than where I was, while working hard enough that I learned lots and impressed the people I worked with. It didn't take as many steps as I thought it would to get to Google/Facebook level, and overall it was faster and probably more interesting than going back for a CS degree.


Why not apply for full time positions at these companies?


I don't qualify.

Edit: I should elaborate. There are companies out there offering internships that I would die for. I don't mean FAANG stuff or Big 5 or whatever. I'm talking small shops like Teenage Engineering or medium sized business like Ableton or Native Instruments. I have been put in an awkward position where I have experience working full time as a developer, but I'm not necessarily learning anything or developing my skills. It sucks not being able to qualify for a certain subset of entry-level opportunities because I'm not apart of the college/university institutions. I will be keeping my head up as the position I am in may just be what forces me to be extraordinary at what I do.


I don't want to be too blunt, but I think the barrier you are seeing is 25% real and 75% in your head.

Some of the best coders and ops people I've ever worked with either never went or never graduated from college.

If you've been working 2 years as a full-time mobile dev, you're qualified for a full-time role. We pay our interns industry salaries, just for 3 months instead of 12. We do take a little bit of extra care to give them a good intro to the company and make sure we take them to a factory in their first (and only) 3 months and have a few intern events over the summer, but otherwise, it's 80-90% like having a software developer job. A few places will have some HR/recruiting drone 86 your resume because of no college. Many will not and most hiring managers who are/were programmers won't care.

tl;dr: Apply anyway (for full-time).


Although OP's situation is different in that they have 2 years of experience, I can definitely say that companies won't just hire someone full-time with zero experience anymore (even into "new grad" or junior positions). College internships weren't always a thing; a career switcher might not have any tech experience to put on a resume, and a lot of companies and recruiters don't even look at personal projects. It's a very tough row to hoe starting from zero and getting a job as a developer.


Agree that it's no longer like it was back in 1998-early 2000 (where all you needed was a pulse it seemed), but I believe that competence and capability will generally overcome obstacles.

Would it be easier if you graduated 6-3 from MIT? Sure! Would it be easier if you already had 2 years at Netflix? Sure! You have to play the cards you're holding at the moment, though.

Side note: I've also heard the complaint recently that companies and recruiters are being too selective by asking about open source or personal projects, so there are definitely some out there. We don't have a set formula; I'm happy to talk about you, your goals, your skills and abilities, and anything else that comes up. If you've got a great personal project, let's talk about it.


This is wonderful advice and I appreciate your kindness. Nice job! :)


Unfortunately internships aren't really designed for you. From the company's perspective, the point of an internship is to build a relationship with students so that they're likely to join full time after they graduate. Since you're already eligible to work full time, there's no incentive for a company to hire you as an intern. If you really want to work at those companies, study I'm your free time and apply for a full time role.


Sokoloff gave you some wonderful advice and I don't want to repeat what has already been said. However, here is what I know:

- You're a good writer.

- You do have two years of experience.

- "I will be keeping my head up as the position I am in may just be what forces me to be extraordinary at what I do." -> this sentence betrays a really good attitude.

I'd apply full-time if I were you. Worst case scenario, you'll be in the same place you are now. Best case scenario, I've got someone I can bitch at when Ableton Live hurts my feelings...:)


Just apply to those jobs anyway. Past a certain amount of experience hardly anyone will care about your education. Until then, your biggest hurdle will be HR folks who might discard your CV before the hiring manager gets to see it. To maximize your chances of getting interviews, do your best to go around them (meet them and their staff at meet-ups or by working on OSS projects they participate in, etc.), or avoid them entirely (small companies don't often have any HR staff).


Internship programs at almost all tech companies are designed for students. Companies hiring interns are very likely to have full time positions as well, so you should look into applying for those.


Yep.

How about a “Senior Intern Program”?

BTW: It’s a good and underrated movie (https://youtu.be/ZU3Xban0Y6A)


I interned at a YC company as my first internship (LeadGenius, YCS11) before they had this organized a program. I had no idea what YC was before I applied, and learned about YC and HN later. The YC dinner was great, ended up making some connections and eventually applied to YC Fellowship two years later and went through myself. The YC network has been great for me, and it all started with an internship within a portfolio company.

I'm at another YC company, Starsky Robotics now, and we're open for interns! Come join and build self-driving trucks.


(Throwaway for what I think will be obvious reasons). I also had my first real internship at a YC company in the Summer of 2012 (think they were either a YCW11 or YCS10 company - they are long since dead). Was the summer after my junior year - had been doing some hackathons and side projects and was really into the startup scene in general. I still remember that my interview consisted mostly of explaining what NodeJS was (the phrase "event loop" was used quite liberally) and then after going back and forth with another company decided to fly out to Mountain View for the summer. Was pretty excited, as I didn't have too many other competing offers and seemed like an interesting, product focused company.

And I must say - what an absolute disaster of a summer. Lived in a large concrete structure where the CEO, my boss (amazing person who I credit with making the summer bearable) and 9 other interns lived. We slept in a room with 5 sets of bunk beds that led to a kitchen on one side and a back room (kind of a garage like space) behind it. Days regularly stretched from 10am to 2am. My pay was room + board and then $400 a week on top of that, which I found out was more than the other interns were making. Too much crazy stuff happened to go into exact detail but a representative listing of events(some of it good, some of it bad):

1. Somehow many of the interns + full time staff (across eng + sales) were either D1 Wrestlers or semi-professional martial artists. I actually credit them with getting me into strength training for the first time. In the back, garage-like room, however, was a wrestling mat. Many, many drunken wrestling matches were had in that room, which while no one was forced to participate in, everyone tended to get in on. I was definitely not on the more athletic side of the group and was put into many, many armbars.

2. One of the interns was very new to the software industry and a bit older. Moved to Mountain View from I think it was Kentucky. Super nice and jovial guy and a super hard worker (we played a lot of basketball that summer and did some condition training. He was not the most in shape person, but one time did sprints until he threw up), but also had a lot of emotional issues. More than once he got incredibly drunk and had to be talked down from hurting himself and others by the other interns plus staff.

3. My 21st birthday coincided with the very start of the internship. To celebrate, I chugged an entire (smaller) bottle of whiskey, and we proceeded to run around our neighborhood incredibly drunk, including a stop to Safeway carrying around a mannequin one of the founders owned. At one point snuck into someone’s backyard and chilled in their pool for a while. It was honestly a very memorable time.

4. One of the founders was going through a divorce at the time and sometimes did not handle it super well. One night he showed up at the work/live space (he had his own apartment nearby) drunk as hell and begged for one of us to go to SF to go clubbing with him. I, being a very dumb intern, acquiesced as he was pretty much refusing to leave unless somebody went with him. How did we get to SF you ask? By driving in his BMW of course! We hit easily over 100 on the 101, him blind drunk, but in the end made it out alive. Sadly, the club he had wanted to go to had closed at that point so we just ate at a Denny’s instead and went home.

5. And the last thing I’ll end with is the CEO. What an absolute scumbag. He was a physically very large human and he knew it. He would throw his weight around to intimidate those around him - thankfully all the other full time employees (who were awesome) were no slouches themselves and so were able to at least somewhat contain him. At one point, halfway through the summer, he ordered all the interns to give a status update on their projects. We all thought it was a fun way to show off what we had been working on and prepared accordingly. After the talks, he yelled at us that we weren’t pushing hard enough and that if this is how seriously we took our jobs, some of us would be fired. For a project that of course we had no way to make go faster or get more direction on (and for a lot of us was our first internship!). I forget why this next part happened, but he tried to organize a MANDATORY company camping trip the week before it was supposed to happen for us all to bond. The entire company revolted, and basically told him to go to hell. He was a lot more calm for the rest of the summer, and then (from what I remember) was basically forced out later that fall for utterly failing to do his job.

So many other things happened (we had the world’s weirdest office manager who at one point made out with an intern against his will and then felt very hurt that he wasn’t into her, despite the fact she was at least 20 years his senior) that I have seriously considered trying to get everyone back together to do an oral history as something, as I’m sure it was a time that no one will ever forget. After that I basically came back to school and did not code on the side for 3 months as I was so burned out, but eventually got an awesome job afterwards and things have been pretty good since!

EDIT: Reposted for better formatting


> ...the CEO, my boss (amazing person who I credit with making the summer bearable)...

> the last thing I’ll end with is the CEO. What an absolute scumbag

My head is having a hard time reconciling these 2 statements.


Ahh sorry for the confusing grammar. I was trying to imply in the first sentence that my boss was an awesome person, but only him, not the CEO.


Very nice recruiting method. Subtle, but powerful because of it.


On behalf of YC or Starsky?

For YC, it was pretty damn slick, but made possible only because a close-knit bond between companies exists to an extent. I remember being super interested in self driving cars, really wanting to work at Cruise and getting their founders email from a YC Partner at the dinner. I was just out of my freshman year, and extremely nervous about emailing the cruise folks, and some of my coworkers at LeadGenius helped me draft intro emails. They were just really great people. My managers at LeadGenius (YC alums themselves) were the first people I told when I got into the fellowship. There were a lot of signals along the way that the folks involved in YC, from the partners to the founders, were __good__ people. I wanted to be part of that. And still am, and still do.


I think people might be misconstruing my comment as negative. Just to reiterate, I was complimenting you on your use of storytelling to weave in a message.


I would ask people to stay away from Starsky. Terrible recruiting practices -- I met some of their senior staff and they assured me, well even guaranteed that someone will get back, but no one did.

As job-seekers, we should start maintaining a black list of firms that treat prospective employees badly, and urge others to not apply.


Can you email me at daniel@starskyrobotics.com? I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience - that does not match how we aim to recruit and no one should get lost in our process. I personally hate companies ghosting people - we don't do that.


It feels like you’re bending over backwards to mollify this person only because you got called out publicly and you’re getting downvoted because of it.

I don’t even know how emailing you about it is supposed to help. If GP has been ghosted by you years ago, in what way does it help them to contact you now? All it does is provide an easy way for you to improve your hiring process while giving the other person nothing in return. The dynamic is similar to the unpaid internships we’re railing about in this thread.


I would prefer not to.

I expressed my concerns about not hearing back from employers to Kartik -- I applied only because he reassured me that every application "in their system" (sic, iirc) gets a response.

"We don't do that", hah. If a founder wants to lie to prospective hires, that too when they are meeting them for the first time, it suggests that something is really rotten at the company. If you don't treat people nicely, well, there's a tonne of other firms in the area that are hiring...


There's no need to be a jerk about it.


Folks who are downvoting, please care to explain your reasoning. Thanks.


What's your background, and what position was the company looking to fill?

I was accused of this same thing on a "Who is Hiring" thread a while back. I posted about looking specifically for senior front end engineers. What I got instead was close to 50 emails from boot camp grads, many of them data science.

If candidates feel the need to disregard what I say, why exactly do they deserve my time in return?


@neonate I am interested in knowing how am I being a "jerk" here.


Ok. Throwing someone's words back at them with "hah" is being a jerk. Claiming someone "wants to lie" when there are plenty of other obvious explanations is being a jerk. So is venting your frustration on some dude just because he happens to work for the company, especially when he was trying to be nice and you prefer to assume bad faith. So is overposting about this instead of saying your piece once and letting it go. And actually, acting like your bad experience generalizes universally and justifies your being vengeful, is also kind of being a jerk.


Interesting rationalization. Thanks for putting it into words.

I agree that my tone was could have been better.

I don't buy the rest of your arguments, and would not comment on them for the sake of being misinterpreted again -- following the Golden rule of not feeding the trolls.

Thanks.


This reminds me a lot of HackNY (https://apply.hackny.org/) - it's a non-profit in NYC that handles housing, activities, and placement for NYC startup interns


The application process is really smooth! Kudos to whoever built it.



I agree it was very nice!


Is this purely for software development/engineering or does applied research still qualify?




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