Below is a guide written by Matthew Whyte, 2022 Summer Marketing Intern at HubSpot. This guide is written for college students looking for an internship or their first job in tech. Throughout this guide, a framework will be provided on how to get an internship/job in tech with tips & tricks from a student who has been in your shoes.
A common misconception: you must be a computer science major to work in tech. This is 100% not true. In 5 minutes or less, you’ll get a run-down of how to break into the tech world from someone who was in your shoes last year. I myself am a Public Relations and Finance major working as a Marketing intern at HubSpot. Regardless of your major, there is a place for you at a tech company. You see it all over TikTok, with Software Engineers making over 200K but still, I assure you there are plenty of lucrative roles that are non-technical, like being a Business Development Rep (BDR) or a Product Marketing Manager (PMM).
My number one piece of advice is to explore your interests early on. I have often found that involving myself in new clubs through school and internships has helped me obtain direction for my career. You can explore your interests in various ways, from taking a class outside your course of study, applying for internships, or attending a new club at school.
So, why work in tech? These are just a few of the observations I have experienced so far.
- #1: Work-life balance – It is likely you will have a good work-life balance compared to many other professions. Many tech companies value getting to know you as a person. Companies like HubSpot and LinkedIn do things like having a week of rest.
- #2: Engaging projects – The work is probably going to be interesting. If you are fascinated by technology and like to work in a fast-paced environment, technology is a beautiful place to be. Compared to college, working in tech can help you take your studies to a new level by learning the real-world application of concepts.
- #3: Benefits – You will likely have a decent salary and insane perks. Yes, the rumors are true. At HubSpot, I have been able to experience an endless supply of snacks and an occasional ping pong game. Tech companies are notorious for offering free food, a gym/gym stipend, cool merchandise, charger vending machines, etc.
Here is my 5 step process that helped me start my journey into the technology sector.
- #1: Identify what interests you – First, find out what companies/products interest you. I’d start with thinking about what technology you use every day. Do you use an iPhone or an Android? Do you have an Xbox or a Playstation? After that, move to specific comprehensive technology categories that interest you. For example, are you interested in working on software that businesses use daily to run their business? Look into HubSpot or Square. Trust me – a company is probably out there that matches your interests.
- #2: Determine your requirements for your internship/job – Think of this as a checklist. Let’s say you want to work in Houston, Texas, make a salary of at least 85K, be at a larger company, and have great perks, such as health benefits and paid time off. After you make a checklist, determine which companies match your criteria. I’d start with identifying what area you want to live in along with using a cost of living calculator like this one. Don’t get me wrong, this can be pretty challenging as a student to know these things early on but focusing on the place you want to live is a great starting point.
- #3: Create a LinkedIn – Next, create a LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one yet), then enter the company/employees you want to learn more about. After that, make sure to turn on a job alert using keywords and the location you are interested in. Viola! Now you have access to employees at the company, and you’ll be notified of new jobs.
- #4: Be yourself – Reach out to professionals with a personalized message and ask them if you could set up an informational coffee chat with them. In this message, you want to demonstrate your interest in the company, make it personal to the individual, and be straightforward. The purpose of this step is for you to get to meet someone new and learn more about their career. An added bonus is if the person also attended your school or if you share another commonality with them because that’ll likely increase the chances of you getting a response.
- #5: Coffee chat time – The time has come. You got the coffee chat. From this call/meet-up, your goal is to learn as much as you can about what the person does. Can you envision yourself in the role? Ask questions like, what does your day-to-day look like? What is the work culture like at [COMPANY]? In what ways can I prepare myself for this role?
These steps are also key to networking, which is a critical step in breaking into tech and discovering more about your career aspirations! Keep in mind that networking is a continuous process even while you are applying for internships/jobs. Especially in tech, there is always something new to learn and explore.
Once you start applying, start by asking your network if there are any open roles at their company. I’ll give you a great company to start with – Go here and apply for positions at HubSpot (you will thank me later).
Now I know this is not the end-all-be-all, definitive way to get a job, but I know that you will find your way through this seemingly daunting and endless world of tech. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn for any questions, and I can’t wait to see where you’ll end up!
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