Being in the Bay Area has its advantages. Like, being able to take public transit anywhere. Getting to admire Tesla’s at every corner. Or attending job fairs with 5,000 other interns in the bay.
Internapalooza wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It was my first job fair, and while they don’t market it as such, it’s a bunch of hot companies in the area that have set up booths and swoon young interns with pounds of t-shirts, sunglasses, flip-flops, stickers, and business cards, for hopeful new-hires next summer.
As a not-even-college-freshman, I know I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for positions like these. I’m not a computer science major (MIS is a business-computer science mix, but it’s in the business school), and I’ve taken zero real programming courses other than when I took AP Computer Science. But didn’t everyone? I wanted to get my name in, make an impression on the recruiters, dazzle them with my accomplishments and talent as a high-school-graduate turned Mozilla intern, and it’s no wonder that with with thousands and thousands of other interns, they probably don’t even remember my face.
Looking at the sponsors was encouraging. I saw Twitter, Andresseen Horowitz, Google, Square, and Uber, to name a few. These are all places that sound like amazing opportunities. My primary interests were Twitter and Square, however. They’re innovative companies, their stories are inspiring, and most notably, I would have the chance to work under the leadership of Jack Dorsey, my entrepreneurial role model and man I aim to become.
After budging through the hordes of people, I was greeted to the Square booth, stickers laid out and friendly faces in beautiful minimalist t-shirts with an iPad app only Square could design to take down our information. I had high expectations for the conversation that was about to follow. But that was it. They had no extra information to offer, nothing to make them stand out, and nothing to make me feel like they were going to remember me. The conversation went something like all the other conversations did.
Hello! We have a lot of positions open. We’re a growing and innovative company looking to hire interns for software engineering! We need all kinds of people. Here fill out your name and we’ll contact you if you fit our needs!
Oh look, another one! We have a lot of positions open but since I had to select your school from “Other” they’re probably not open to you. We need more interns and also diversity! Here’s an iPad, we probably won’t have time to email all 5,000 of you, but thanks for stopping by!
A pessimistic outlook, sure. But I think I’d have more attention sending my resume through an actual application than trying to yell over the giant crowd and trying to explain why me, a rising freshman, should work for them next summer.
I really wanted to talk to Twitter though, and that was one of my primary reasons for going. I made it a point to think of questions to ask and a pitch for myself, but alas, Twitter was a no-show, and after fighting through the crowd to talk to Google and attempting to grab a Google t-shirt (only to find out they only had Large, X-Large, and XXL left), I decided to call it a night and go out with some people I had met for dinner.
I didn’t stay for the speaker session, though part of me wishes I had, but it’s nothing I can’t find on YouTube from people I actually know, and it’s not like I would’ve been able to ask an individual question or hear more from the speaker without waiting for hours in line.
Speaking of hours in line, some people waited for hours and didn’t get to go in, because they never closed registration. You could register to attend right up until the event, and once you got in, no one checked to see if you had registered, so anyone could have waltzed their way in, which may have added to the chaos and packed environment.
I don’t think I like job fairs. But hey, the t-shirts are cool.