Junior Year Summer - Will Tech Internship Hurt Me?

Hello, I'm currently a rising Junior at a target (not HYPS), GPA 3.5+, and an engineering major. As an overall career decision, I'm stuck between going into the tech world vs. going into business. I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy SWE, so in tech I would likely pursue PM, and in business I would look to go into something strategy-related. This summer, I'm thinking of trying PM internship to see if it is something I would enjoy. Another factor playing into this decision is the difficulty of landing a consulting internship as well as the relative insignificance that a consulting internship plays into finding a FT role compared to something like finance. Would having a tech/ PM internship my Junior summer negatively affect my chances of pivoting to consulting & the business world FT? If I decide I don't want to pursue PM, will I still be able to land a consulting role after graduation?

Having interests in two different industries is also confusing my interview prep efforts. I'm not sure if I should focus my attention in one industry or the other, or if I should try for everything at once. I.e should I practice case prep as well as product questions? There is certainly some overlap in terms of interview questions, but I'm not sure if applying all over the place will ultimately hurt me more than help me. Also, I don't know if it's even worth it at all to apply for consulting internships given how hard they are to land.

Overall, I'm looking for some direction as I begin to prepare and apply for internships. If anyone has any thoughts or advice on this crossroads I have found myself between, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Comments (26)

Jul 21, 2020 - 1:30pm

First, I am sure your parents are very proud of you! It sounds like you are an intelligent and ambitious person.

Second, I do not think any internship will harm you. If you learn and challenge yourself, then an internship will be a great experience, regardless of what industry you choose.

Third, you need to really think of where you see yourself when you are 40. You can make more money long-term in finance than engineering, but if you are passionate and love engineering, then stay in engineering. If you go into an industry just for prestige and monetary gain, you more likely than not will burn out and fail.

Fourth, the MBA program was designed for folks without a business degree to obtain a business education. My personal advice would be to finish your degree and go to business school. You can be an engineer while getting your MBA. Then, after a few years decide if you enjoy engineering or business better. You will have the credentials and work experience to go almost anywhere! Engineering majors are impressive!

Keep thinking about your future and I am sure you will do well! Good luck!

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 21, 2020 - 2:15pm

Obligatory: I'm a student, and therefore know nothing.

I'm a CS and business double major in a similar position, except I'm younger than you so I have more time. For me, PM seems like the best job out there because you get top level pay without working 80 hours a week like finance guys (or 65-70 for consulting) and without having to do SWE level tech stuff. Plus, I'm not sure how easy PM internships are to get either, at least at FAANG, which is what I assume you're targeting, so it'll be super impressive regardless. I personally am jusr worried that if I skip IB recruiting, I won't be able to get PM at FAANG or consulting at MBB, which is why I'm on the fence despite IB hours sucking so hard.

Jul 21, 2020 - 3:02pm

Makes sense. From my perspective, the experience of a PM internship is more important than the brand name of company - I think of this summer as my "last" opportunity to fully experiment & try out a career path, so any PM experience should allow me to do that. However, that leads into an interesting follow-up: would a brand name PM internship not hurt my chances of going MBB full time, but a non brand name PM internship would?

  • Intern in Consulting
Jul 21, 2020 - 7:33pm

I'm actually in a slightly similar situation. I'm a computer science major with finance minor (rising junior). I have an internship with EY next summer in technology advisory, but I really want to get into product management. super similar reasoning - want to be in tech industry, but not really interested in swe and PM seems like an interesting option. the situation I'm in is slightly different because this would also be my "last chance" for an internship before summer after graduation and I'm worried if I wanted to get into PM, I wouldn't be able to because I wouldn't have experience. anyone have any insight on how hard it would be to get a role in PM from having an internship at a big4 in tech advisory? Sorry to sidetrack but just thought it was really interesting the similar situations we are in

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jul 21, 2020 - 7:59pm

I guarantee you it will definitely not hurt. Plenty of students spend their junior summer working in finance, PM, marketing, business development, etc., and are able to land good offers at (top) consulting firms.

Jul 21, 2020 - 8:49pm

Appreciate the insight. My calculus is that it makes more sense to potentially rule out (or not) PM in the internship stage, because it would be harder to transition to something like consulting if I try PM for the first time as a FT role after graduation and realize it's not a good fit.

Jul 21, 2020 - 9:07pm

I think I can answer this question. My brother is a PM @ FAGMA and got interviews for all five and got two offers. For the ease of getting a job as a PM is heavily dependent on your demographics. Generally, for an average applicant who is Asian/White Male it probably is slightly harder, as technical Software Engineers are >90 percent Asian/White males so in order to balance out diversity team headcounts in the engineering department women and URMs are given a tremendous advantage over their male counterparts, perhaps even more so than banking. I've seen pretty head scratching female applicants get offers, while a decent Indian Male won't even get a single interview. FAGMA will typically give nothing harder than a Leetcode medium with the important criteria being our extracurriculars and leadership, which are practically not considered for SWE.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 21, 2020 - 9:34pm

This is very helpful. As always, diversity recruiting is ridiculous when taken to this level, but it's the way it is, so I'm glad to know about it now. How outstanding would you say your brother was as a candidate? It sounds like he was really successful.

Jul 21, 2020 - 10:24pm

It's just kind of a crapshoot just as getting an offer from GS is. There were tons of CS students with more technical skills and overall better resume than my brother who got zero offers. But I think the reason he got his two offers was because 1. He's part of the USA armed forces through ROTC 2. received a top security level clearance from the government through the ROTC program 3. specialized in ML/AI. As it turns out the two offers he got were on teams doing contracts for the Department of Defense on ML/AI. So If I were to suggest anything, it would be to sell yourself on a niche skill set.

Most Helpful
Jul 21, 2020 - 10:19pm

Hmm this seems incorrect. I had superdays with both FB and Uber for their new grad PM programs and my fellow candidates were overwhelmingly white+asian. Gender split was 50/50. I admit that women have an easier time, but that's probably due to the fact that being an effective PM requires good people skills, which nerdy engineers tend to lack. There is also a much lower technical bar, so people who didn't study CS but are passionate about technology are given looks - again, this is intentional because a PM doesn't actually need to code to be effective. FB and Uber both have zero leetcode in their process. Google's technical interview is literally "do you know how tech works on an abstract level", they no longer ask leetcode style questions for APMs.

Interesting that you think the only "headscratchers" who get offers are women, when you yourself didn't go through recruiting for PM, and you are obviously not a hiring manager. I assure you that incompetent men get hired at the same rate, you just notice it less because of your subconscious biases.

To answer OP's question: if you manage to land a pm internship at a prestigious company like Google, you will absolutely be fine for consulting recruiting. The difficult part is actually getting the internship - these programs already have very low headcount for full-time, and it's even lower for the internship. Most don't even offer PM internships. You say it's hard to land a consulting internship but it is 100% more difficult to land a PM internship.

My advice in terms of interview prep: definitely prep for both if you are serious about going for both. If you put in the time now while you're (probably) doing a low stakes remote internship, you'll be set for the fall. Additionally: make sure to network! Referrals help out so much for tech recruiting, it's kind of ridiculous. They basically guarantee a first round.

Jul 21, 2020 - 11:05pm

Thanks so much for your response. As a reply to a previous comment, I noted that "My calculus is that it makes more sense to potentially rule out (or not) PM in the internship stage, because it would be harder to transition to something like consulting if I try PM for the first time as a FT role after graduation and realize it's not a good fit." I know that is pretty convoluted, but essentially I feel as though this summer is my only chance to try PM and have the option of going into consulting/strategy if I don't like it. In response to what you said, if I am only able to land a non brand-name PM internship, would that hurt my chances for FT consulting the following year? Are there any internship programs you would recommend I look into given my situation, even if they are not strictly PM or consulting?

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