How to land an internship at Google, from someone who did

For most people, landing an internship at Google seems unattainable.

I mean, who actually gets to work at Google? That one genius kid from high school that you never talked to … but perhaps should have befriended, right?

It’s unfortunate, because such assumptions deter many people from applying, since they feel as though they don’t stand a chance.

The summer before my senior year in college, I received an offer to intern at Google. When I applied, I thought I had no chance since I wasn’t an Ivy Leaguer nor did I have a perfect 4.0 GPA. But lo and behold, I got it.

According to the recruiters, landing an internship at Google is harder than getting into Stanford or Harvard. The year I applied, they accepted about 2% of their applicants (1,600 people applied). I’m no genius, so how did I stand out from the crowd?

1. Put interesting stuff on your resume

Here are a few things I had on mine:

You may be thinking that you don’t have anything cool like that to put on your resume. On the contrary, you might. Talk about your hobbies and interests. Perhaps you’ve been an avid rock collector since age five. Maybe you have every single Beanie Baby ever released. That’s interesting.

They want to know a little bit about you, and what you can bring to Google. This is your time to shine, and share some of the quirkier aspects of your personality that other, more traditional companies may not appreciate.

2. Prepare (as much as you can) for the phone interview

I had two phone screens, a preliminary one and one with a more seasoned Googler. To my surprise, the interview was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be. The recruiter asked me questions about myself, and of course, what I knew about the advertising product. They also asked me to discuss some of my favorite websites/blogs.

Here are a few questions they asked me and other Google interns in the past:

  • What would you do with 100 million dollars?
  • What’s the next big thing?
  • Tell us about a non-Google product that you like. How would you improve it? In what ways would you re-market it? What strategies would you use?
  • How would you explain AdSense to my grandmother?
  • Tell us something about yourself that is NOT on your resume

3. Googliness: You either have it or you don’t

The on-site interview was the last step in the process. The purpose was to check for “Googliness.” Essentially, they are checking out your personality to see if you play well with others and uphold the mantra of Sergey Brin and Larry Page (the founders), which is “Don’t Be Evil.”

Two final tips

Clean up your social media:

This one is self-explanatory. However, it is surprising that people still think that in this day and age companies don’t check your social media. I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth (i.e., a recruiter from Google).

They mentioned during our orientation that they looked up all of us on Facebook. Google is one of most competitive companies, so they would obviously screen their candidates thoroughly.

Leverage your network:

Google is big on referrals. Their way of thinking is, since you’re amazing, you must know other amazing people. Do you know anyone that already works there? Do you have a friend that knows someone that works there? Any connection, even if it’s a third-party connection, is better than none.