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Getting a term-time internship role at a startup

I'm a college junior who is home now because of COVID-19. I have a lot of free time on my hands for this semester and want to explore different career options before my senior year. I am worried my summer internship will be moved to remote or even cancelled so I want to build up some more experience in case anything happens.

Any tips on how to secure a remote internship at a startup, especially if there's no formal recruitment process? I have experience in growth marketing and want to explore data analytics and product management.


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Lauren’s Answer

Hi Belinda!

I'm Lauren and I've worked at 4 startups in the bay area! The company I am at now just went public in October and I think it's safe to say, has transitioned out of the start-up phase thankfully. With that being said, I know that startups are ALWAYS short-staffed while they try to get their feet off the ground, with as little money as possible. Employees often have to wear multiple hats and perform multiple roles within the company. It is a GREAT experience and resume builder for someone just starting out.

My best advice to you would be to research companies that you would want to work for and who to contact in their recruiting department (if they are a small start-up and don't have a recruiter, I would look to reach out to people within the departments you want to work in, please note that reaching out directly to senior staff is a bit risky. If they have executive assistants or an office manager I would try there first). Once you have a list of companies and contacts, make an individualized 1 page internship curriculum vitae. You could also write a short cover letter, but I've done recruiting and also believe a short individualized email intro also suffices.

Next, email each contact person letting them know:
- You are inquiring about a possible remote internships
- That you would be glad to help with any overflow work during this time of quarantine, so as to gain experience and that you have attached your CV for review. I would mention that you are conscious of employees having to adjust to working from home with young children or older parents to take care of and that you are looking to help with whatever tasks need to be done.
- If you are reaching out to someone outside of recruiting, ask in your email if your contact is the correct person to reach out to, and if not, if they could kindly direct you to the proper person to speak to about internship possibilities
- Asking if they have time to discuss further possibilities this week or next, or at a time that would be most convenient for them.
- Thank them for their time!

Because so many lives have been impacted by COVID and smaller start-up companies are now even more short-staffed, I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities out there for you to help with overflow work and projects, so don't worry!

I hope this helps!
Best of luck,
- L

Thank you comment icon Thanks Lauren! This is super helpful. Belinda
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Celia’s Answer

Hi Belinda,

This is a great idea and startups will allow you to grow and test things out much more freely than most big corporations.
You could have a look at angel. io to find lots of startups in whatever industry you like, or check local startup hubs. My advice would be to find startups you like and then jump on linkedin to find product managers or other relevant people from that company, add them to your network and message them about your interest for data analytics and their specific product. You can also ask for an informal interview with them if they get back to you and you can start a conversation. The cool part with startups is that you can absolutely be yourself, people are really open and easy to talk to!

Good luck!
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Alvaro’s Answer

Hello Belinda,

I would recommend you to have a look at AngelList (, since it is a huge Startup community where you can find lots of opportunities. There are usually plenty of remote opportunities (I have collaborated with two remotely, I am based in Europe), so in these hard times I would expect even more.

I would also recommend you update your LinkedIn profile (create one if you don't have one). There are plenty of resources/advices on how to have a good profile such as this one:

Once you have done the 2 steps above, it's time to show them your interest! Feel free to do a bit of research of the startups working in the fields you would like to grow/learn:
- Make a list of the startups you might be interested in
- Browse their websites, articles, etc. Usually all this info is in their LinkedIn profile, but Google is also a good friend here
- Browse the profiles of the co-founders and workers to find out possible interests and to identify the right person to contact
- Feel free to contact by message. Please, make it as customised as you can, avoid generic messages

A message I always love receiving (and always answer) has:
- Personal touch - Sth like: "Hi Álvaro, I hope you are doing great in these hard times / I hope this email finds you well / ..."
- Quick intro about yourself: Who you are, what are you doing, a bit of background experience
- Why are you reaching: professional growth in X area, mention sth they are working on..
- Open closing: "I would love to hear from you / please do not hesitate to reach me back / ...

Startups are companies where personal relationships are very important and this first approach by contacting them can make a huge difference!

Hope it helps and good luck!
Álvaro Lamas
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice Alvaro! Belinda
Thank you comment icon These are great suggestions. Relationships in Startups are key. Good luck and keep safe! Ruth Whalen