2019 Tech And Career Events For Bay Area Summer Interns
Why I'm Writing This Guide (And Why I Love Silicon Valley)
I had the privilege of interning as a Software Engineer at Google’s Nest Labs in the summer of 2016. That summer, I lived in Palo Alto, worked on a cool internship project, went to many tech & career events, and made some great friends along the way. Most importantly, at the end of the summer, I realized that I wanted to live in the bay area after graduation. This was a significant moment in my life trajectory because I didn’t always think I’d end up in the bay area.
For context, the summer before, I had interned at Microsoft in Seattle. Between the great outdoors scene, reasonable cost of living, and excellent work culture at Microsoft I thought Seattle would be my future home for sure. And then there was always my home-town of Northern Virginia. With good jobs, reasonable cost of living, and being close to friends and family, I wasn’t seriously considering Silicon Valley.
But a close mentor of mine convinced me to give the bay area a chance. He said that for someone with startup interests, young in their tech career, who enjoyed spending time with like-minded people, SF was THE place to be. I begrudgingly gave up my return internship offer with Microsoft to play the interview lottery so that I could try to land an internship that would allow me to try out the bay area.
And I’m glad I did it. My mentor was absolutely right.
It clicked to me at the end of my silicon valley summer when I compared all the cool events I went to in SF - that were uniquely in SF - with the lack of tech/career-related events I didn't Seattle and the lack of ecosystem I saw first hand in Northern Virginia. The events I went to helped me realize how startup & tech-centric the bay area was, and how high the concentration of like-minded people was. And that it was personally the best place for me to be. That’s why I’m writing this guide today. This guide is for:
- People who aren’t in the bay area and are curious to learn more about the events and communities uniquely in the bay area in case they are considering moving out here
- People who are fortunate to spend the summer in the bay area and want to attend similar events to the ones that left such a strong impression on me
December 2019 Update
This guide was first published in mid-May 2019, and then updated again in mid-July 2019. All the specific Eventbrite, Meetup, and Facebook links to events have expired. Luckily, all the tactics I mention of using Facebook, connecting with interns at other companies, cold-emailing recruiters, and more still apply.
Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter to get the updated 2020 Bay Area Summer Intern Event Guide which I'll send in mid-May. I'll also email the details of the summer meetup I'm hosting. I did one last year with 150+ interns & new grads showing up to nerd out about tech & drink White Claws in Dolores Park and it was hella fun.
Why You Should Go To Events
Before I dive into the event specifics, it’s worth answering: Why should you even go to these events? It’s worth explaining this implicit assumption just so people who are on the fence can understand how attending these events can change your life. Here are three personal anecdotes of mine.
How I Got The Nest Labs Internship Interview
In the summer of 2015, while I was in Seattle, I came across an open house event onFacebook from Nest Labs. I filled out the RSVP form even though I wasn’t interning in the bay area and so couldn’t physically attend the event. I didn’t think much of it.
Then, a month later, I got an email along the lines of: “hey, thanks for RSVPing to our intern open house this summer. Bummer you couldn’t make it out, but we saw your resume, and we’d like to interview you". Boom - the interview process was started. A few months and a few interviews later, I was in. All because of an event RSVP (a good resume didn’t hurt either).
How I Got A Facebook Interview
In the summer of 2016, while I was interning at Nest Labs in Palo Alto, a friend of mine invited me to the Facebook Summer Intern Fest. A week later she also referred me.I don’t remember the order of events, but generally, I was reached out to because of both my intern fest attendance and the referral. Fast forward a year later and I started as a new grad Software Engineer at Facebook.
It’s A Small World After All
Last anecdote. Silicon Valley is a really, really, small place. The types of people who get invited and go to the events all kind of know each other. And they keep in touch. I still meet and see friends who I met initially 3 years ago at parties and coffee shops in SF these days.
For example, a few weeks ago, at SafeGraph I had a sales call (for my company’s very niche product) where the person on the other end (a key PM on the team we were selling to) was a friend I initially met at the Accel Summer Bash. The sales call went a lot smoother with a friend on the other end of the line.
Tech Company Open Houses
Background on Company Open Houses
Companies have events for interns throughout the summer to showcase their unique culture and office. Often, there’s a tech talk and swag giveaway. These events usually happen during the weekday, and are held between early-June and early August, to get the maximum number of summer interns to attend.
Unfortunately, most of these events are invite-only.
How To Get Invited
Many of the company open house events are invite only, and there is no public information or application page. Some ways around this: Ask a friend who works / interns there about it. They can usually get you on the list. If that doesn't work, cold email a recruiter and express interest in the company. If you haven’t cold-emailed recruiters before here are 8 tips I wrote.
Companies With Intern Open Houses In The Past (That Likely Will Have It Again This Summer)
Since I’m writing this in mid-May, many of the events for this summer aren’t up yet. But giving you a list of events from years prior is helpful since companies tend to do it every year:
- Facebook Summer Internfest. Happens every year. Huge event (2,000+ interns). A current FB intern needs to invite you. No public application or event page. Photos from the event
- Instart Open House - hosted event in 2019
- Pager Duty Intern Open House - hosted event in 2019
- Intern Demo Day from Plaid, Eero, Clever, & Shift- Quora - hosted Q&A with Adam D’Angelo in 2018
- Palantir - hosted quiz night in 2018
- Slack - hosted an intern hackathon in 2018
- Blend - hosted event in 2018. Here is old event page from 2016
- Plaid - hosted event in 2018
- Affirm - hosted event in 2016
- Microsoft (Yammer) Summer Intern Party. Happened in 2016. Funny news article about the event. I went to the event and confirm it was liiiiit
- Nylas Intern Open House. Old Facebook event page from 2016
- Lob Summer Intern Fest. Old Facebook event page from 2016
Companies I'm Missing
I’m missing companies that may have only started doing intern open houses this year. Your best bet is to look at Series-C and Series-D startups. They are flush with VC funding, dying for talent, and okay with hiring interns & new-grads. Here is a list of companies I suspect might have summer events. Go cold email the recruiter or ask a friend who works at these companies:
Also, keep your eye out on Facebook. Seeing intern friends RSVP to events on FB is an excellent way of finding the more popular/public events. You can also search ‘open house’ or ‘intern open house’ to find events as the summer progresses.
Other Miscellaneous Company Events(Not Exclusively For Interns, But Still Cool)
While not exclusively intern focused, these events are hosted by top-tier tech companies for the general tech community. These events are still a great way to network with engineers, designers, and PMs. Folks at the companies will love you for showing up, and you can ask them for referrals later. These events are also a great way to learn.
- Brex & Bolt On Finding Product-Market Fit in FinTech
- Chegg UX Coffee Chat
- Learn about Figma, And Collaboratively Design Something @ Asana HQ-
- Machine Learning Tech Talk from VP of ML & AI @ Unity Technologies-
- Indiegogo’s Hardware Startup Bootcamp
- Product Vision & Strategy Talk at Optimizely
- Honest Finance & Design @ Affirm
- Tech Talk On Transportation From Lyft’s Design, Product, & Policy Teams
- Healthcare Data Sharing & Analytics Talk From Datavant
- Blockchain Meetup: Blockdaemon, Hyperledger, & Google @ Heavybit
- React Tech Talks @ Sonder HQ
- Android Tech Talk w/Postmates
You can find more events on Eventbrite.
Other Events & Resources
Events Sponsored By Venture Capital Firms
VC events are usually very well done, with great food, activities, and speakers. You can cold-email the talent / recruiting person at your favorite firms to learn more or find out about intern open house events occurring at their portfolio companies. Some of the VC events I went to in Summer of 2016:
- Greylock Techfair. Super high-quality event but hard to get into. A variety of great startups attend (e.g Airbnb, Stripe, Coinbase, Flexport, Slack, Thumbtack etc.), and it’s a really effective way of landing interviews
- Greylock Hackfest. The best hackathon I have ever attended with the highest caliber projects I’ve seen. Many of the things I learned can be found in my long “Win Hackathons: A How-To Guide” Happened 2015-2017, but might have been discontinued since then
- YC Summer Expo - I attended in 2018. Not meant for interns but they do accept them. Hearing Justin Kan (Founder of Twitch & Atrium) give a talk was super cool.
- a16z Summer Campfire - Can’t find any public info on it but attended in 2016
- Accel Partners Summer Bash - Can’t find any public info on it but attended in 2016
Folks in summer fellowship programs are usually clued into many more events and are great people to ask. Some fellowship programs include KPCB Fellows, Pear Fellows, Summer @Highland Partners, True Ventures Fellows, 8VC Fellows, & Code2040 Fellows.
Internapalooza is a career fair on steroids, held in AT&T Park. When I attended in 2016, there were thousands of people lined up outside of the stadium waiting to get in even before the event started. This year it seems they are limiting it to 1,000 people.
Along with the intern only hackathons sponsored by VC’s and companies, there are some Hackathons open to the public too.
- Draper University Hackathon. Draper University is an offshoot from the well-known VC firm, DFJ Capital (Draper-Fisher-Jurvetson)
- DocuSign & Google Cloud Hackathon
- BUIDL SF - Blockchain Hackathon
- AngelHack 2019: Silicon Valley
p.s. before going to a hackathon read my guide on How To Win Hackathons
Meetups are another great source of events to go to. I’m a big fan of the Mobile Growth SF Bay Area meetup. You can say hi to me at the next event! Some other upcoming meetup events:
- How GrowthHackers.com Grew - Talk From Head of Growth
- Spark @ Scale - Data Infra @ Lyft & Uber-
- Innovation In Healthcare - Talk From VP of Product at One Medical
- Monetizing Product Experience - Talk from Product Lead at Pandora
Your university likely has an alumni group/club in the bay area. Here’s the UVA Club of SF and the Penn Club of SF. Ask your career office or search on Facebook. They often organize events, and mostly young alumni (only a few years out of school or less) show up. For UVA folks, here’s a summer networking reception. Here’s a Stanford-Princeton Young Alumni mixer. Here’s a Stanford-Harvard mixer.
Some other resources & communities:
- The Real Intern SF - a friend of a friend highly recommends this. They host events like the Intern Supper Club.
- Summer Playbook - a friend started this
- Intern.Community - has groups for NYC & Seattle as well.
Women In Tech Events
- The Violet Society helps ambitious women achieve their dreams. They ran a pilot product manager fellowship with early-to-mid-career PMs and are now hosting a celebration / showcase of their first PM Cohort. They are also hosting a Hackathon at Github
- Women In Tech is hosting a talk on How To Prioritize When You Want It All at Rakuten’s office in San Mateo
- Women Who Code SF is hosting an Algorithms & Interview Prep Night. Once at Cloudflare’s HQ and once at Atrium’s HQ
- Women In Security & Privacy is hosting a Tech Talk About DEF CON at AirBnB
The Power Of Facebook
I know Instagram and Snap are all the rage these days and I know I’m biased since I worked at Facebook and I know I sound cultish still talking about Facebook but I think even in 2019 Facebook is really really good product for people who are new to the bay area because:
- Facebook Marketplace works better than craigslist for finding free furniture
- Facebook groups are a great way to connect to other interns if you work at a big company. For example, here are the bay area intern groups for Google, Amazon, Microsoft, & Adobe
- Facebook groups are a great way to find housing. Here are a few groups
- Facebook events are the best way to find public intern open house events.
A heartfelt thanks for reading this and I hope this genuinely helped.
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As mentioned at the start of the post, last summer, I hosted a meetup in SF's Dolores Park where 150+ interns and new grads talked about tech and drank white claws. It was lit.
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