5 Simple Steps to Getting an Internship at Google

The Internship

Now, who doesn’t dream of working at Google? You get to enjoy amazing perks like a free, never-ending supply of gourmet food and snacks, as well as fitness classes and onsite wellness and healthcare services. Not to mention the generous parental leave and retirement savings plans, extensive opportunities for personal and professional development, and diverse and inclusive work environment. But that’s not all: you’re also allowed to bring your dog to work!

If that sounds like your kind of workplace and you’re still at uni, then getting an internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door and start planning for your, hopefully successful, career.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to get an internship at Google in five simple steps!

1. Find the Right Role

First things first, explore Google’s job board for available internship opportunities that match your skills and interests based on your preferred location. Make sure to select ‘Google’ in the Division dropdown (you can also search YouTube, Google Fiber and X for opportunities if you wish) and ‘Intern’ under Type.

Google offers different types of internships, which are outlined below along with minimum requirements:

Engineering and Technology Internships

  • Associate Product Manager: Must be currently pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree in computer science or related field
  • Engineering Practicum: Must be a first - or second-year undergraduate student currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related technical field at a 4-year North American university – applications open in October
  • Hardware Engineering: Must be currently pursuing a full-time bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or related field
  • Mechanical Engineering: Must be currently pursuing a full-time bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree in mechanical engineering or related technical field – applications open in January
  • Software Engineering: Must be currently pursuing a PhD in computer science or related technical field
  • STEP (Summer Trainee Engineering Program): Must be currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field – offered outside of North America
  • User Experience: Must be currently pursuing a full-time BA/BS degree in graphic design, human-computer interaction, computer science or related field

Business Internships

  • BOLD: Must be currently enrolled in any 4-year BA/BS programme in the United States – applications open in October
  • Business: Must be currently pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related business field – offered outside of North America
  • Career: Must have a minimum of 4 years’ experience in digital advertising, marketing, project management, sales or service delivery and currently on a career break – offered outside of North America
  • Legal: Must be currently pursuing an undergraduate or postgraduate law degree – applications open in October
  • MBA: Must be currently enrolled in an MBA programme – applications open in September and October

Depending on your chosen programme, internships typically last between three and six months.

2. Focus on Your CV

Your CV is the first thing recruiters and hiring managers will see – this means that it needs to help you stand out from the competition (which, without a doubt, will be high) and get your application moved to the ‘yes’ pile.

Here are a few insider tips (courtesy of Google) to get your CV noticed:

  • Tailor your CV to the particular internship you’re applying for: Carefully read the job description to identify keywords and phrases and incorporate them into your CV. Make sure your skills and experience align with the job description.
  • Mention key skills and achievements: Now’s not the time to be modest. Mention any projects you’ve worked on or managed, what the outcome was and how you measure success and don’t shy away from talking about any leadership positions you held. If you have little to no work experience, then talk about school-related projects or coursework that demonstrate your skills and present yourself as a problem-solver.
  • Keep it short: While the general rule of thumb is to stick to a maximum of two A4 pages, Google recommends just one.

Make sure you check out our complete list of CV writing tips!

3. Send Your Application

Once you’ve found the perfect internship you’d like to apply to and have created a well-written CV, the next step you need to take is to actually send your application.

There are three main ways to do this:

  • Online: Go back to Google’s job board, find the internship you’re interested in and click the ‘Apply’ button. Fill in the application form and upload your CV (in PDF) and transcript. You can also add an optional cover letter (we highly recommend this).
  • Referrals: Do a little bit of networking on LinkedIn and ask someone you know (who works at Google, of course) to refer you. This will typically only get you past the CV screening process. After that, you’re pretty much on your own.
  • Through your college/university: If your college/university is registered with Google, then you can directly apply for a summer internship from there.

Note that when applying for most internships, your application will be submitted to a number of locations all over the world, unless otherwise specified.

You may also want to consider looking into the Google Summer of Code programme. Though not exactly an internship, successful applicants spend their summer break writing code and learning about open-source development.

4. Prepare for the Interview

As I’m sure you’ll agree, interviews are quite possibly the most difficult and terrorising part of the hiring process. But, as long as you come prepared, you should be alright. Here are some interview tips to keep in mind:

  • Do your research: Learn as much as you can about Google’s different products and services, and the people behind them.
  • Practise questions: Ask a trusted friend or family member to roleplay with you and practise answering common interview questions like ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘What can you tell us about yourself?’ On that note, Google is notoriously famous for asking candidates curveball questions like ‘What would you do with $100 million?’ and ‘How would you explain AdSense to my grandmother?’ The key is to showcase your technical skills and knowledge.
  • Bring your own questions: Even if all your questions have been answered during the course of the conversation, make sure you have a couple of backup questions to ask the interviewer to confirm your interest in the position. You might also want to ask questions during the interview if and when they flow with the conversation.

The interviewing process begins with a phone or Google Hangouts interview. Interviews for software engineering positions will typically last between 30 and 60 minutes and covers data structures and algorithms. You’ll be expected to write 20–30 lines of code in Google Docs that you will share with the interviewer. For all other roles, interviews usually last 30–45 minutes and are mainly comprised of hypothetical, behavioural and case-based questions.

This is then followed by an onsite interview. You’ll meet with four Googlers (that’s what Google employees are called, by the way) for 30–45 minutes each, and you’ll be tested on your general cognitive ability, leadership skills, role-related knowledge and ‘Googleyness’ (how well you’re able to work as part of a team, help others, etc).

Some others tips to keep in mind for software engineering and technology roles include:

  • Practising coding questions (sites like Stack Overflow can prove to be an excellent resource)
  • Knowing at least one programming language (preferably C++, Java, Python, Go or C)
  • Being familiar with common sorting functions
  • Understanding algorithms and being able to improve/change them
  • Being able to think recursively
  • Understanding basic maths
  • Studying up on as many data structures as possible

5. Get an Offer

Once you’ve completed the interview stage of Google’s hiring process, a hiring committee will review your application (including your CV, references, interview performance and any work samples you submitted), and will base their decision to hire you on this.

If you’re accepted into the Google family and you’re extended a job offer, congratulations are in order! After all, Google’s acceptance rate for full-time jobs is a little under 1% – and significantly less for interns! So if you are accepted, be extremely proud of yourself.

As a Googler, you can expect to earn a median salary of $6,666 (£4,949) a month, which when multiplied works out to about $80,000 (£59,421) a year! And that’s on top of all the amazing perks Google offers to its employees!

Don’t forget to read our guide on how to turn your summer internship into a full-time job!

Are you considering getting an internship at Google? Have you successfully completed one of the tech giant’s internship programmes and are now a part of the Google family? Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!


Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 8 December 2017.