Who gets tech internships?
"Big tech" internships offer excellent pay, challenging work and valuable networking opportunities, writes Natasha Singer in the New York Times. Many lead to full-time job offers. However, "with sometimes more than 100,000 students applying for just thousands of slots, securing an elite tech internship can be as cutthroat as getting into Harvard."
The story focuses on inequity: Tech firms tend to hire from top-ranked computer science programs and consider recommendations from current employees, writes Singer.
In addition, the selection process is "biased toward students who have more free time to devote to side projects, hackathons and studying for technical interviews — characteristics that conflate privilege with student potential.” said Ruthe Farmer, the founder and chief executive of the Last Mile Education Fund, which helps lower-income students in technical fields complete college degrees.
However, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon and other large tech companies have "set up a variety of introductory internship or mentorship programs" usually aimed at "female, Black, Latino and lower-income students," who are under-represented in tech, writes Singer.
Bowie State, a historically black college in Maryland, created its own internship placement service, writes Singer, and now partners with Adobe to place cybersecurity interns.
Unpaid internships, which often provide valuable experience and contacts, do raise equity issues: Lower-income students can't afford to work for nothing, so they miss out. But the fact that the best-prepared candidates are the most likely to get highly sought-after jobs doesn't strike me as inequity, except in the sense that life is unfair.