Hung Truong: The Blog!

Internship Searching Season 2008

January 06, 2008 | 6 Minute Read

So January (and in some ways, December) is the time to start looking for internships. I’ve already done quite a bit of looking along with sprucing up my portfolio site (the projects section has accordion effects now!) and updating my resume.

I think part of the reason it’s difficult to search for internships is because I’d like to define the internship rather than the employer defining it for me. I understand the need to succinctly say, here’s what the internship position is, but too often I end up seeing generic “software engineering” of which I have no idea what they entail. Hey, maybe some potential companies are looking at my blog! Then I can define what I’m looking for in an internship and they can contact me if they agree! But part of the problem is that I’m also unsure of what I’m looking for in an internship. Okay, perhaps a lengthy blog post will fix that.

I’m originally a classically trained Computer Scientist. That’s what my B.S. is in, and that’s what I can do on paper. So I should qualify for all of these generic Software Engineering positions. Going into grad school, I’ve been under the impression that maybe there is something more interesting than vanilla software engineering. Of course, my knowledge of “vanilla software engineering” is not really based on facts of any kind. I did some freelance software engineering work for a company over the Summer, but I don’t think that’s indicative of any typical SE work. Actually, it’s probably generally false to assume that there exists a typical software engineering job. Maybe I’m oversimplifying. Anyway, let’s move along.

So far, I’ve been happy with my grad school experience. There are a lot of ideas floating around, a lot of real research being done, and smart people all around. I’ve done a project in my Networks class that could theoretically be considered research, and I find it interesting to just investigate things for the sole purpose of learning stuff.

My question is, what should I look for in an internship?

Of course I want to learn something. Do I want to get a research internship? Would a software engineering internship betray the academic lifestyle I’ve so enjoyed? Am I being an internship snob?

This is what’s going on in my head. Let’s take a brief interlude by checking out the internships I think are totally awesome, and why I think they’re awesome!

Not surprisingly, Google is on the top of my list for their internships. One reason is that their recruiting is second to none, seriously. Just look at Google’s internship page (which is fairly simple to find from their homepage) and compare it to Yahoo’s… oh wait, they don’t have an internship page to speak of. The Yahoo one just tells you to type “intern” in their way bad job search engine…

Okay, so onto the Google internships. The single internship I want most is “Associate Product Manager Intern.” Tangent: I was at the Google info session last year and talked to someone about opportunities for someone who was an engineer but has become slightly “more.” Again, I don’t want to sound like a snob or anything, I’m just talking about additional education. The Google guy told me I might want to apply as a PM. Apparently, Product Manager is an entry level position. I always thought that Software Engineers were promoted to PM status after working for a while. Anyway, the description leads me to believe that this is right up my alley:

The area: Product Management

Google’s Product Management group leads the processes that enable our company to bring innovative, world-changing products to market. Our team works closely with Engineering to help design and develop technologies that improve access to the world’s information. We’re responsible for analyzing user needs and guiding our products throughout the execution cycle. Our team offers a range of opportunities for candidates with less than two years of job experience who desire breadth and variety in their job responsibilities.

The role: Associate Product Manager Intern

As an Associate Product Manager Intern, you’ll work with engineers to define new features for existing products based on your understanding of user needs. You’ll also conduct research on markets and our competitors, focus on strategies that impact the direction of future products and develop leadership experience in a variety of Google’s product areas. Associate Product Manager Interns are given important responsibilities, generous access to resources and many opportunities to learn about other areas the organization. Technical, analytical and strategic planning skills are vital to performing successfully in this position.


  • Understanding and analyzing user needs.
  • Helping to define a product vision and strategy.
  • Working with world-class engineers to build and launch new features.


  • Currently pursuing a BA/BS in Computer Science or related field, and graduating in 2009.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills.
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills.
  • Strong technical abilities.
  • Demonstrated capacity for developing and understanding strategy.
  • Deep interest in creating and analyzing products.

At this point, I think this position is about as close to my ideal internship as any will get. I really enjoy coming up with new products and applications. I like designing and building them, and analyzing them! It seems like it would balance creativity and practice pretty well.

Do any other companies take interns for PM positions? It still seems a bit strange to me, not that I would complain if I got it…

Google also has an internship for Software Engineering Statistician Intern. I think the requirements for that one are maybe a bit out of reach for me (I’m taking a stats course this semester) but it seems interesting.

As far as other prospects go, I was already shot down for a Facebook Internship, but that one was in Software Engineering. There is a full time position for “Data Insights” that seems interesting. I want to apply for it and ask if they’ll take me as an intern.

Another interesting “make mine an internship” internship could be the Research Analyst position on Digg’s job page. I’ve read that companies aren’t as averse to internship-ifying jobs as one might think. It shows I have the proactivity to get things done, right? Right!?

There are a few research labs that I was thinking of applying to as well. PARC, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo (if they ever get any posts up). All of those labs have some group that is interested in social computing in one way or another. Yahoo is actually especially interesting because their labs have access data to Yahoo properties like Flickr, Delicious and Yahoo 360.

And those are just about all the places that I have considered so far. I think at this point, it is difficult for me to find an “appropriate” internship because there haven’t been any graduates from the University of Michigan School of Information with the specialization in Social Computing yet. It’s new from last semester!

Anyway, if you have any good suggestions, please leave a comment, or you can use my contact form that’s on my about page, too!