Apple internships, which promise applicants the opportunity to work with some of the best product teams in the world, are highly sought after and notoriously difficult to land. Read on to learn more about how to get a foot in the door with an Apple internship.
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As one of the most influential and aspirational technology companies in the world, Apple’s coveted internships are designed to attract the best and brightest across all its departments—from software and hardware engineering to data science, marketing, and design.
The company offers two kinds of internships: a conventional summer program, which runs for at least twelve weeks during summer break, and a full-time program that runs for at least six months during a regular semester. Former interns and current employees report that interns who do a good job often receive offers to join the company full-time once they graduate from their degree programs. Internships also come with opportunities to meet and hear from the company’s highest executives such as Tim Cook and John Kerr through a regular speaker series.
The skills and experience levels of data science interns vary depending on the kind of internship undertaken. At Apple, data science interns are expected to be familiar with programming and scripting languages such as Java, Python, and SQL. More advanced internships in areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence require applicants to be in the process of obtaining a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in computer science, statistical machine learning, statistics, natural language processing, deep learning, or computer vision.
On the whole, whether an intern is an undergraduate student or someone completing a graduate program, Apple expects its data science interns to be ambitious problem solvers; enthusiastic about analytics, advanced algorithmic solutions, data structures, and different areas of machine learning; and ready to contribute new innovative ideas to Apple’s teams.
Apple’s internship listings include responsibilities such as collaborating with robotics and automation specialists to apply machine learning to industrial problems and situations; using big data and machine learning to develop new Smart Factory tools; and mining data to evaluate the quality of cellular transmissions.
Landing an internship at Apple means showing an Apple recruiter that you have both the chops to solve ambitious technical problems and the right attitude to thrive in a competitive environment that prioritizes innovation and, as far as industry reputation goes, the highest standards of quality.
The ability to be a member of the team is also a plus, according to former Apple intern Caitlin Connerney, who said that in addition to being asked technical questions, her hiring manager also asked a series of questions about her interests and why she wanted to intern at Apple. Connerney believes that she ultimately scored the internship because she was able to show her interviewer that she was personable, could work well with teams, and knew her own strengths and weaknesses.
“These interviewers aren’t just looking for someone who is very good in one specific field,” Connerney said. “They’re also looking for a coworker, a teammate, and a friend. For Apple, you need to be good in every applicable area.”
So, how do you highlight your best qualities to increase your chances of scoring an Apple internship? The below steps are a useful starting point.
A baseline requirement for qualified applicants is knowledge of programming languages such as SQL or Python, and some experience in solving analytical problems using quantitative approaches. If your prior degree-program didn’t help you develop these skills, or if you’re rusty, consider doing a refresher through independent study or a mentor-supported bootcamp.
Other skills that are useful include familiarity with machine learning (ML) algorithms and generative models, familiarity with human-computer interaction and related areas, knowledge of common ML frameworks and pattern recognition fields, experience with Spark and Tensorflow, and having good presentation skills and the ability to communicate findings to stakeholders.
A strong portfolio will help hiring managers see who has the drive and initiative to solve problems and complete projects. If you’ve contributed to innovative research or worked with professors or graduate students on projects, share it. If you’ve worked on your own projects by wrangling publicly available data sets, document it. If you have strong programming skills or a strong publication record, have participated in conference talks, can meet tight production deadlines, have revised and improved projects by taking on feedback, or have benefited from technical mentorship, show it.
Julie Ahn, a UX designer who landed a summer internship with Apple in 2020, submitted a portfolio with her application that included several projects showcasing her design capabilities.
“I’m assuming they called back to interview me because they liked what they saw,” Ahn said.
In addition to showing that you’re an excellent problem solver, a strong portfolio can also help a hiring manager visualize how you might contribute your skills to future Apple products.
The Apple internship application process requires the submission of a résumé. But there are also optional fields for a cover letter, portfolio, letters of recommendation, and any supporting documentation that can highlight your capabilities, depth expertise, diversity of skills, and the positive qualities and characteristics that you can bring to a team.
Some of the common interview questions asked of internship applicants include why they’re interested in working at Apple, a run-through of their résumé, and the broad prompt of “Tell me about yourself.” Julie Ahn, the Apple UX design intern, went through two rounds of phone interviews before being offered a position. In both interviews she was asked to tell the interviewer about herself, why she had chosen to study and work in her particular field, and if she had to identify one thing she found efficient and one thing she found inefficient about Apple products, what would it be?
The interview is an opportunity to show that you get along well with people, are able to reflect critically on your work, and take into account the product experiences of Apple customers.
Apple interns are among the most well-compensated at any internet company, with Glassdoor reporting that Apple interns are paid nearly $7,000/month.
In addition to generous monetary compensation, Apple interns are also given complimentary housing, a relocation stipend, and health benefits.
Apple has a notorious culture of secrecy, and this extends to the internship experience, according to former interns.
“It was super cool to get to be intimately involved in particular products before they came out, and to see the gritty details of past products, even some that never made it to market,” said former intern Nate Sharpe. “It should be noted, however, that this only applies within your immediate department, as everything outside of your department is on a need-to-know basis.”
This culture of secrecy was confirmed by another former intern, who told Business Insider that everyone has a particular focus within their team, so much so that one of his peers worked on a 9.7-inch display without ever knowing what it was for.
“They didn’t know if it was a big phone or a small laptop,” the intern said. “It wasn’t until the product release where Steve Jobs went on stage and showed the iPad that they realized this is what we worked on for the past two years.”
That said, interns who have shared their experiences online have spoken highly of Apple’s internship culture and the kinds of work they do. Many find immense satisfaction working on popular products such as the iPhone and Macbook, identifying opportunities for optimization across software, hardware, and services used by millions of people. Graduates often return to Apple to assume full-time roles.
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