Despite the antagonistic title, this post is intended to help give Stanford students – especially frosh and sophs – a leg up on finding positions this summer.
You may wonder why I think I can help. Allow me to rewind to the Kristi of 2009.
In fall 2009, when I entered Stanford, I was not just a n00b. I was the n00biest of n00bs. The Grand Poobah of n00bs. You see, two weeks into my Stanford career, I strutted into Stanford’s Computer Forum Fair with my CV. And oh, what a CV it was.
Freshman Kristi believed that “MOAR information is ALWAYS better!”, so my whopping six-page CV included every accomplishment ever in my entire life leading chronologically backwards to the “progress card” comments from my early childhood development center. Which is just a fancy way of saying “preschool.” Looking back now, it’s pretty comical, but at the time I naively thought, “awww yeah, everybody’s gonna wanna get a piece of this ‘good listener’ who ‘likes to share’! Get at me, Google!”
Needless to say, I showed up first at the HP booth, where the well-intentioned rep kindly suppressed giggles long enough to provide some editing advice. I pedaled forlornly back to Stern, trying to keep the metaphorical tail between my legs from getting caught in my bike chain.
Young padawans, I’ve been there and done that so you never have to. Below I’ve listed my top tips for finding the job that works for you this summer. I don’t claim to know nearly everything, though, so fellow old-timers are welcome to supplement my advice in the comments! Hopefully this is a good starting place. Happy exploring!
Get on lists!
Student groups and departments alike have email lists galore which are a goldmine of opportunities. The best places to look are minority or special interest groups that are specific to you, like SWE, the Women’s Community Center, SSCLES, the Native American Cultural Center, and SBSE, which often have specific recruitment lists that you can sign up for. (Forgive me if my examples tend towards techy offerings – it’s what I’m most familiar with!)
Undecided between different departments? That’s totally fine! In fact, it might be even better: the more lists you sign up for, the more chances you’ll have at finding your dream summer job. Not too shabby.
But… so much email! This is a risk you’ll have to be willing to face, but through the clever use of Gmail filters (dude, they will change your life), you can eliminate clutter in your inbox and check postings in batches when you have time.
Keep an eye out for research opportunities
This echoes the previous point, since many research positions are posted on department email listservs. Many departments throughout Stanford, especially in engineering, have summer-long, stipend-funded research programs specifically catered to undergrads. You usually get mentorship from both faculty and grad students, and with Stanford donating over $4 million a year to undergraduate research, you know you’ll be well taken care of. This website has a pretty thorough listing of programs you can start checking out now – before their applications open up!
Kristi pro tip: I did research the summer after my freshman year and loved it. Usually after freshman year you don’t quite have the skills to work in industry, but you can still contribute meaningfully to a research group, learn valuable skills, and get to play with fun and expensive equipment. Depending on your advisor, you may also be allowed to take a class simultaneously to get ahead on your degree, and the summer environment/community at Stanford is really fun.
Get to know the CDC (Career Development Center)
If I had the power to bop every Stanford student on the head with a foam pool noodle Rafiki-style and convey a message, this would be it: use the CDC!! Every time I’ve been there, their wonderful staff have fallen all over themselves to help me. Cardinal Careers has a vast online listing of available internships, their library has resources and scholarship listings galore, and Stanford Alumni Mentoring pairs you up according to your interests with rockstar Stanford alums. What’s not to love?
Their Career Planning Handbook has great resume and cover letter tips, and you can even schedule one-on-one sessions with their advisors to do practice interviews and more. Don’t be a n00b like me: take advantage of these resources!
Freshmen, they’re even holding an open house, JUST FOR YOU, on January 10: link here!
Check out a career fair
There’s a full listing here, but my personal favorite is the Engineering Opportunity Job Fair, which is January 26 this year at the Huang Engineering Building. There are always tons of companies in attendance, and with such a huge concentration of employers right at the start of internship hiring season, it’s your one-stop shopping for this summer.
Non-techies: despair not. There’s a Humanities and Sciences Fair on February 5 that will rock your world.
So while you’re diggin’ into the holiday spirit, consider diggin’ into some summertime offerings. It’s much easier to make headway on applications without the distraction of classes. Good luck!