As a computer science major at Rutgers University-Newark, Katie Wilcox learned a lot about technology theory in the classroom, but like many students, she didn’t gain much hands-on work experience. That is, until she participated in the technical summer internship program at Audible.
Before the 10- to 12-week program begins, interns are given the chance to choose the tech team they want to work with, such as development, consumer domains, or quality assurance. They also receive support from a dedicated mentor, technical guidance from a manager, and ample networking opportunities. During her first summer, in 2019, Wilcox learned all about front-end app development and researched ways to improve the Audible app. When she returned for her second summer, she focused on back-end development, working on a new social experience for the app.
“The first summer, the amount that I learned was honestly astonishing to me, so I felt like I wanted to learn more,” Wilcox says. “At the end of my second internship, I could confidently say I was a full-stack developer because if given the opportunity, I have the skills to create an entire feature, end to end.”
Today, Wilcox works as a full-time software engineer for Audible—a role she qualified for because of those internships. Her summers at the company also enabled her to get a feel for what it would be like to be an employee there. And according to Kate Byrnes, a recruiter for the program, that’s one of the goals.
“Internships are a great opportunity to experience an organization's culture and some of the work you can expect to be doing,” Byrnes says. “It gives you a glimpse without having to make a commitment upfront.”
For tech professionals in training like Wilcox, an internship at Audible means having access to cutting-edge tools and software, as well as seasoned experts in the industry. These benefits, paired with the chance to network across the organization, do meaningful work, and ultimately earn a job offer, make Audible’s internship program deeply advantageous for launching a career in tech.
Growth opportunities from day one
When Jeremy Bradshaw, a senior manager of campus recruiting at Audible, relaunched the tech internship program in the summer of 2016, he structured it to include a two-week onboarding process, tangible products for interns to work on, a midpoint check-in, and a final presentation. He also strengthened the mentorship element, encouraging managers to be diligent and intentional with their mentees.
Having designated check-ins with her manager certainly helped Suzette Islam during her time as a quality assurance intern. “I'm a person who does better when I have one-on-one interactions, especially when I have complicated questions,” says Islam, who is now a full-time quality assurance engineer.
Coming into the program, Islam had very little experience testing features or working on automation. But after the summer, where she was able to build these skills with support from her manager, she says, “the insight I gained was really valuable.” The experience and mentorship expanded her skill set, making her a stronger and more employable engineer.
Wilcox agrees having go-to support in place helped her excel during her internships and continues to benefit her today as a full-time employee. “My mentor really pushed me,” she says. “Instead of telling me what to research, he would ask me questions or recommend certain developer documentation or internal tools that might be a good place to start seeking information. This would lead me to think, ‘Oh! Maybe I should look into this.’ I still find this support valuable.”
From intern to full-time employee
At Audible, every intern who proves themself is almost guaranteed a full-time job. In fact, 30 of the 31 technical summer interns eligible for open software developer positions received offers in 2021.
“The internship serves as our interview,” Bradshaw says. “We get a lot more data to evaluate during an internship versus an external candidate who only comes in for a four- or five-hour interview. As a result, the internship is more likely going to provide a stronger opportunity to get a full-time offer.”
Also, those who are hired through the program tend to have a seamless transition to full-time status. After 12 weeks as a quality assurance intern, Islam went from assisting on projects to leading them as a full-time engineer. It was a jump she was prepared for, she says, because she already knew how her team operated and she’d had ample time to learn from her mentor and ask questions when needed.
Wilcox agrees that her time in Audible’s internship program made the prospect of launching her career there less intimidating since she was already familiar with the infrastructure. “They actually try to mock what being a full-time employee is like, including working on a project from start to finish,” she says. “So when you get your first job, you’re fully prepared.”