How to Prep for your Tech Internship

By Kristy Willard, MBA ’21, Core Fellow

Last summer I had the opportunity to intern at Facebook as a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) on the WhatsApp team. I absolutely loved my time with the team and will be returning full-time after graduating Sloan.

Here are three things I wish I had known to best prepare for my tech internship.

1. Relax. I had never worked in Big Tech or Product before, so I was naturally a bit nervous and anxious before my internship started. Due to COVID, I ended up pushing my start date back so I could move back home with my family. These few weeks of relaxation after the semester ended and before my internship started were key. If you have the opportunity to take a short break between your internship and start date, I highly recommend it. Take the time to unwind from a busy semester before jumping headfirst into a new environment and company. This will make you a much more productive and effective intern.

2. Get to know the company. During my interview prep, I made sure to read up on public companies’ 10Ks and listened to a few investor calls. Once I committed to Facebook, I continued to dial into the quarterly earnings calls and kept updated on the all top news, which gave me the perspective of how my work fit into the larger company strategy. For example, during COVID, one of Facebook’s key priorities was Commerce (helping small businesses facilitate sales during the pandemic). At WhatsApp, my summer project primarily dealt with helping businesses in emerging markets use WhatsApp better to connect with new customers, make payments, sell goods and services, etc. Understanding how my work fit in with this overarching pillar made me more invested and empowered in my work. It also gave me the ability to plug my work into bigger projects, for example, WhatsApp’s integration with Instagram Shops.

3. Get to know the people. One of the greatest parts of any internship is meeting new teammates and colleagues. I would recommend reaching out to colleagues in different teams and functions to get a sense of their experiences and work. Before starting my internship, I began my outreach strategy by looking up Sloan alumni, alumni from my undergrad, etc. and kept track of their names in a Google Sheet. Once I gained access to company emails, I started reaching out to these peers. I made sure to pace myself by always setting up at least 1-2 internal coffee chats with Facebook employees on other teams, from Libra to Oculus, to broaden my view of Facebook products. My internship was 12 weeks, but it flew by—I highly recommend setting up a similar structure to keep yourself accountable during your busy internship.

Best of luck! Reach out with any questions, kwillard@mit.edu.

By Kristy Willard, MBA '21
Kristy Willard, MBA '21 Kristy Willard, MBA