Dan Kang

Why You Should Intern At A Big Company

Friends doing pushups

Yes, that is a picture of me and some friends doing pushups. Yes, this was at a party last night. I’ll come back to why this is important in a second.

Having interned at both a “big” company (Facebook) and a “small” company (Twilio), I often get asked whether I would recommend interning at a decent-sized company or at a smaller one. I know this sounds like a cop out answer, but it really depends on what you’re looking for and what you want out of an internship.

That said, I would highly, highly, highly recommend interning at a big company at least once regardless of what your goals are. Especially if this will be your first internship and you don’t know many people in the tech community. Yes, this still applies to those of you who plan to work in startups for the rest of your lives.

The reason behind this recommendation is simple: You’ll become friends with a crazy number of other smart interns. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll meet smart interns (and smart full-time employees) pretty much wherever you go. But at a big company with a big internship program, it’s easy to meet and develop friendships with a large number of people, many of whom will not be working at that company in the future.

That last point is pretty important. Most interns that you meet will have one or two (or 9000 if they’re from Waterloo) more internships before graduating and will end up in many different companies. As a result, instead of having connections to people at just one company, you’ll have connections to people at Google, Dropbox, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Palantir, Square, Path, and every startup your mom has never heard of. Needless to say, a major benefit of this is that you’ll have trusted sources whose experiences you can draw on to make better decisions. All this aside, making a ton of friends who are intelligent and ambitious is always a good thing.

Alright, back to the ridiculous picture. I became friends with every single person there either directly or indirectly through my Facebook internship. Although we’re at different companies/places in our lives now, we make it a point to meet up pretty regularly to hang out. Getting to know a ton of other interns (there were around 500 during my summer at Facebook, if I remember correctly) makes it easy to find people that you get along with really well. And then you can meet up every now and then to hang out and do pushups.