*This article originally appeared on medium.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the views of companies I previously worked for.
This piece was inspired by ambitious professionals asking how I did it. It is intended to shine light on the internship process, be relevant to internships generally, and share my personal experiences.
GoPro is the one of the coolest companies in the world — and also one of the most challenging. If you’re up for it, this is for you.
Writing on this topic was not easy because hiring strategies are constantly evolving. There are also many articles about getting internships already. My favorite is by my friend, Andre Tacuyan, and his design internship at Google. Give it a read. It will broaden your perspective for this topic. My article will explore areas he did not.
Those articles are great for a design internship at Google or a startup job. But, this article is about landing any great internship.
Recruiters at elite companies are elusive. They are trying to solve million dollar people problems everyday. They are dealing with full-time hires, participating in interviews, integrating complex hiring systems, and working cross-functionally on projects. So, when it comes to the application it must be quick & powerful. Cut out all the bullshit and simplify your message.
Here are the keys to landing an internship at GoPro.
It has to be great. To give you a taste, here is mine.
Notice the feel, layout, and aesthetics. What a resume is doing is giving the hiring manager an emotional taste of the person. It’s visual communication. Kind of like dating. Will it give a good first impression? Will the viewer be intrigued to learn more?
Build the automated application.
I recommend playing the long game. The intern process will start in August ending in May, worst case scenario. If you fail to secure an offer in the fall you still have the spring to fall back on. When I accepted my offer from GoPro, I had sent over 2000 applications in an 8-month period, been selected for 40+ phone interviews, and 12 in-person interviews from New York to San Francisco. Out of those 12 interviews, I was given 4 legitimate job offers. I gambled and turned 2 down because they were shitty offers. But in the end, GoPro prevailed.
How do you efficiently send 2000 applications? It is not easy, but you have to use software to save time. Build or download software to assist with filling out forms (demographic information, education history, work experience, military status, and minority status). I wrote my own scripts to fill out forms, but Dashlane is sufficient and Autofill occasionally works. Once you enter your information, create a user account with the website and save it. Anytime an application asks you to answer an open-ended question or write an essay, append it to a word document so you can reuse it. A good rule of thumb is to avoid doing any task twice. Take advantage of career sites allowing you to add and apply to multiple jobs with one job profile. If you are an engineer there are a variety of positions with overlapping skill sets. The same applies to the business side.
Use links. Many applications ask for a resume, portfolio, blog, or social media accounts. Use software to build and organize all this into a personal website and point to it. Here is mine. Build a core version of your resume and cover letter, then create tailored variations for each specific company & position.
One overlyzealous mistake is applying to all and as many companies as possible. In this case, quantity over quality is not always better. Focusing on 200 quality companies or less is ideal. To be clear, the goal of the automated application is to free up hours originally intended for repetitive tasks to do productive tasks like creative thinking for open-ended questions, essays, software projects, portfolio design, and community building.
Investing all of your time into one company during the hiring process is dangerous. I would not recommend it. Being opportunistic is a more practical strategy. What this means is the best offer will likely come from company 2, 3, 4 or 5 on your list. Do not be defeated, just embrace the opportunity.
Building the automated application is one part in a larger strategy of being opportunistic. It assumes change is the only constant in today’s environment. It is the premise of Reid Hoffman’s book “The Start-Up Of You”. Having an extremely diverse skill set makes you opportunistic and will increase your odds. Chris Messina calls her or him the ‘full-stack employee’.
Be patient & poised.
Sometimes the job offer is not immediate. One company may interview you 5 times, or string you out, and that is OK. A very good piece of advice I received from a former Google recruiter is “we will call you”. This simply means the recruiter controls when hiring progress is made. In March, I sat without a legitimate offer because nothing was the right fit. I patiently waited. It eventually came and changed everything.
Sometimes it is all about the story. As Chris Sacca says: “Good stories always beat good spreadsheets.”
Here are 2 awesome short stories on landing internships.
- How a College Student Used a LinkedIn Ad to Land an Internship
- Catch your employers eye with a $5 Google Ad
Let this sink in and allow your mind to explore all the untapped ways to attract an employer.
On-boarding at GoPro is straightforward. In 2015, there were roughly 40 summer interns at headquarters in San Mateo, California. Every Thursday, all employees get 2 hours of “Live It, Love It, Eat It” time in the afternoon to do whatever they want. Common activities included surfing, playing soccer, slack lining, and going out to eat. The only requirement is to use the GoPro camera. My most memorable experiences during “Live It, Love It, Eat It” times were surfing with coworkers. It was a blast!
When I was selected for my interview, it is likely my skydiving and surfing pictures on social media helped my case as a cultural fit. So, if you do cool stuff post it to the internet; tag it with #GoPro, #GoProIntern, or #GoProLiveIt. Employees monitor these channels. GoPro runs contests frequently and may reward you with money. These are all chances to show how you can add value before employment and fit into the GoPro culture.
All of the internship opportunities are posted on the GoPro website.
Most technical internships appear in the fall and non-technical in the spring. I remember looking at the GoPro career page thinking, I do not know what the hell some of the positions are. This is normal. Every company has a different organizational structure and creates unique job titles. If the position remotely aligns with your skills apply for it. In the tech world, interns often have multiple interviews for different positions within a company and are fought over. This is great.
The best place to learn: the /r/GoPro subreddit.
Sometimes the best thing to do is the most obvious. Be yourself and invest in yourself. The internship game can be grueling and it is just a small slice of the big career pie. Do not sweat it.
For specific questions, email me at mitch(dot)mclaughlin1(at)gmail(dot)com.
Here is a 1-minute video I made of my time at GoPro.
 This is a sample copy of my resume as of January, 2015. It does not include my GoPro experience. I did not have a 4.0. Feel free to reuse and distribute this work however you please. Consider it open-sourced. Email me for .psd file.
 ‘full-stack’ is a repurposed computer science term meaning every part of a technology product — design, hardware, and software.
Thanks to Suzanne Nguyen, Nathan Bashaw, Andre Tacuyan, and Ruben Harris for reading drafts of this.