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Mixpanel - Internships. A story.
98 points by suhail on Jan 4, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments
Mixpanel is looking for summer interns.

In 2008, I interned at Slide, Inc and it was one of the most valuable summers of my life. I went from college hacker interested in starting a company to learning deeply about product design and what it was like to work on a team.

That summer I was fortunate enough to work with an awesome PM, Adora (who taught me the essentials of product development) and Max Levchin. I am still not sure why Max ended up working so closely on the product we working on. Our product was new and had the least business value of all the things Slide was working on but it was still exciting. If I had to say, I think he just liked that we worked so hard on it.

At Slide, I was determined to work hard. I wanted to know if hard work paid off so I worked from 10am to 12am. It did: Slide offered me a full-time but I declined.

At the end of the summer I had huge takeaways:

- I knew I wanted to start a company. Immediately.

- I knew grad school didn't matter out in California

- I didn't realize it at the time but I grew a huge network of fellow Slide people ("Slide" mafia). Some of these people are my closest friends now.

- I learned so much about product, working with others, and how real companies "do it."

- I learned smaller things like: git, python, vim, etc.

- I could've never built Mixpanel without having been at Slide first.

If you're looking for a similar experience to my own, Mixpanel can provide this. Apply for an internship: http://mixpanel.com/internships/ or jobs@mixpanel.com


Suhail Doshi


Good luck finding great interns!

I do want to point out the flaw in this line: "I wanted to know if hard work paid off so I worked from 10am to 12am. It did: Slide offered me a full-time but I declined."

You might have received an offer doing good work 7 hours a day.

I agree. I never worked overtime in my internship but was extended an offer. My review doesn't say how much I worked but what I accomplished and delivered.

Yeah, I worked 6.5 - 7 hours a day at MSFT and got a full time offer as well [1], which is what made me think of pointing this out in the first place.

[1] And left my team happy, having finished my project beyond what they expected. Plus, those days were short largely because of all the entertainment stuff MSFT did for us interns. I don't want to give the impression I was slacking off for the sake of it.

Wow... you just explained my experience at Twitter. I went from being a future PhD looking for a fun summer to someone who forgot about grad school and wanted to stay creating "real" stuff in 4th and Folsom for ever.

Suffice it to say, I ended my internship, left grad school (including a fellowship by Google via GEM) and stayed at Twitter.

Get an internship, it can change (or confirm) your vision about a career and your future in general.

Great to hear Miguel, sorry we never got to really catch a proper meal together last summer... (can you guess who this is? ;) )

Let me know if you are out NYC / Boston way.

To chime on on this subject: Several internships at Google have offered tremendous learning experiences and network-building opportunities, and the subtleties picked up by immersion in the communities around the SF Bay area - or wherever you might fight yourself - are truly valuable. Internships are great, if you are a student reading this - go forth!

I felt exactly the same way after my internships. I was dead set on getting either my Masters or my PhD and after two internships at small businesses in my home city work felt like a holiday compared to more university.

I wanted to know if hard work paid off so I worked from 10am to 12am

While I agree that an internship can be a great motivator (or an early de-motivator for people that chose the wrong career), I don't think this kind of extreme behavior should be encouraged. I'm not beneath doing extreme hours for a project, a few weeks ago I didn't leave the office for almost 72 hours to finish up some polishing of a product because of a sudden client imposed deadline. I did it knowing that I would then take a few days off and that it was an extreme measure to a extremely retarded requirement. It shouldn't be the rule since it can easily lead to tired and unhappy employees, and of course disgruntled employees who think they are being undervalued because they don't stay the same time the over-worker does.

If you have a very motivated employee, by all means let him do his overtime if he really wants to, but there has to be a line where you say "stop, go home". In any case, have some good luck looking for great interns. I'm pretty sure you can do wonders for all the new kids that're just starting out.

I don't know if its encouragement but its definitely what he did.

So we can take away one or two things:

1. His rapid maturity as a developer, and deeply expanded network came at a cost to time. If he had worked less, perhaps he would have known less people, been talked about less, and consequently had a smaller network. Also, the amount of time he put into the job might be directly related to the expertise he got out of it ("Practice makes perfect").

2. His type might just be your competition at an internship.

To be honest, while you're young spending 12 hours per day away from home isn't so bad. In high-school track, we'd regularly put in 3 hours mandatory after a 7 hour school day, then do one or two more hours if we were varsity. We were just teenagers.

Now adays, I can't imagine expending that much time on a single thing (school related stuff in this case), because I have so many competing interests but then single-minded devotion was the name of the game.

I never meant to say that the intern should not do such things. I just meant that it's not behavior to be encouraged on the workplace because it can have negative connotations that can hurt the social aspect of the team and/or can cause burnout which will inherently hinder productivity. If an intern wants to work 12 hours for any reason by all means let him. But if he's doing 12 hours + each and every day to basically prove his worth, there needs to be a limit before all parties come out losers in the relationship.

If the intern finds that he is learning a lot, having fun, and working with a great group of people, I don't see why s/he wouldn't want to spend 12-14+ per day working at a startup.

Disclosure: startup intern who commuted 3-4 hours per day.

Quick question,

The link says,

>We think the best way for you to learn about software engineering is to actually do it

Does this mean that I can apply for an internship without any coding experience?

Because I'd love this.

What's keeping you from getting any coding experience?

You would need to know how to code =)

Well written explanation of how internships are amazing. Mine were all similar growing up.

Same here. I learned the same things as OP did too. Git, vim etc..

Are you looking only for current undergrads, or would someone about to transition to university be fine if we have demonstrable work experience and recommendations?

Great story Suhail -- a strong testament to not only why internships are critical in career exploration (something left out of much of the college experience) but also as to why startups in particular offer such fantastic opportunities for interns to grow.

From direct access to founders, CEO's, and advisers to being part of creating products that go live to working long hours in the trenches which creates a glue between interns and co-workers -- these experiences make startups an invaluable place to get early experience as a student.

Looking at mixpanel's internship opportunity it looks like it will be just as standout -- thanks for sharing what a great internship program can offer.

I'd like to post this story up on the InternMatch blog with your approval. We can also put the position up for free on the site. Feel free to shoot me an email for a promo code nathan@internmatch.com.

Great stuff!

Do you accept students with J-1 visas?

Is there any place where it is easy to find high quality summer internships for students?

I did research at GA Tech when I was working on my Chemistry degree and had a blast / learned quite a few interesting things.

I would like to do something similar for the CS degree I am also working on this summer, but it has been difficult to find a "list" of companies offering quality summer internships.

Could anyone offer any directions?

Keep an eye on HN Jobs - there will be a flood of listings in the coming weeks/months (there's already one).

And Quora as well - here's one to start with - http://www.quora.com/Startup-Internships/Which-startups-will...

If you are looking for startup internships, you can pretty much find one at almost all of them these days (in the Bay Area and probably NYC). Hit up www.startuply.com for a huge list of startups. Find ones you like, look into their jobs page or email someone there. The more proactive you are, the better your chances.

I assume you are complaining about ATL? Even then, I find it hard to believe it's difficult to find companies here. Go to some networking events, I am sure you will find plenty of them in Tech Square :-)

i did computer science in undergrad and did a summer with an investment bank. it made me want to shoot myself in the face. so i went to law school to get out of tech. now i'm trying to do startups, which probably would've been nice to do all along.

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