How To Hack The Internship Process: Guess What? It’s Just Like Online Dating.


The internship process is long and arduous. As a current graduate student at Syracuse University it was a painstaking process. If you are reading this article I assume you are freaking out because you don’t have an internship. Or maybe you do, but you want to learn a cool hack to use in the future or share with a friend. Well I went through the process of endlessly applying for internships. It feels like a dark tunnel that would never end, but remember, all you need is one company to give you an internship offer. In order to succeed, I quickly learned that I had to preach patience as well as be strategic. In order to differentiate myself from my peers, I realized the key was to reverse engineer and hack the internship process. This process is similar to the one described by Amy Webb’s Ted Talk, “How I Hacked Online Dating.”

By using the exact hack that I have highlighted step-by-step below, I was able to land my dream internship.

I recommend that you begin the internship process at least 4-5 months in advance. Employers will appreciate your chutzpah, since 99.99% of students are not doing this. First, you reverse engineer the employer’s email and second, email them. If the employer does not respond or gets upset at you for cold emailing them, screw ‘em and go on to the next one.

While writing this article I explained the hack to my friend, and once he took the steps outlined above, within 24 hours a recruiter got back to him. His exact message was below:

Thank you Rob. I have sent your information to our recruiting manager and HRBP that support our analytics function.

Kind Regards,

Here are the steps to hack the internship process. Remember have fun, be patient, and be organized.

1. Apply to your favorite companies beforehand

If your goal is to land your dream internship, begin by applying to your favorite companies. Before you email employers individually, you must apply to the companies on their general Careers Page, since it is often protocol for you to submit the necessary documentation and fill out their legal agreements.

Here are some tips when applying to companies:

  • Companies that you use or hear about on a daily basis.
  • Companies that you believe in and are passionate about.
  • Companies that recruit heavily from your University or major.

2. Download Rapportive plugin for Gmail

In order to hack an employer’s email I recommend that you use the tool Rapportive. Once you begin to reverse engineer the employer’s email address, Rapportive will reveal whether the email is linked to the person you are looking to email.

3. Search for the company and employee title on LinkedIn

Let’s take the company HP for example. I would first begin with two different searches on LinkedIn. One search can be “recruiter” and the other search can be for the specific department you are applying to. For example, if you are applying for a business analyst position search for “business analyst” and identify who your future boss may be. That is the person you want to email, since they can influence HR’s decision if you make a good impression on them.

4. Browse LinkedIn

If you have no idea what to search for on LinkedIn, you can begin by browsing the employees from the specific company that you are applying to. Once you apply the search, I recommend that you use the LinkedIn filters to help narrow down your search results.

5. Identify your target

Once you have identified your possible boss or someone in the HR department, the hard work is done.

6. Find the URL of the company

Once you have identified your target, find the URL of the company. For example, if you are applying to HP, the company’s URL is This means that the person’s email will end with

For the example below I have used a made up recruiter that works at HP named Alex Smith.

7. Try different email combinations

Once you have identified the employee you wish to email, copy and paste their name and company URL into your Gmail where it says “To”. As I mentioned before, HP’s URL is, so you can start first name, last name, @, URL (exclude http and www from the URL and make sure there are no spaces). So, the first email you would try with Alex Smith would be If your first combination does not work, try others. I’ve highlighted a list of the most popular company email combinations below.

You will know you have successfully reverse engineered the employee’s email when their picture appears on the right hand side of your Gmail thanks to the Rapportive plugin.

To further explain this hack, I have used my personal email address. When I type in my email,, into the To section of Gmail, Rapportive displays my name and image, which can be seen below. This means that Zachary Schleien is indeed a real person.

8. Possible email combinations

Let’s go back to our made up employee Alex Smith from HP. When trying to crack and reverse engineer Alex’s email, I recommend trying the combinations below. In my opinion first name dot last name @ the URL of the company is the most common email address. Possible email combinations may include:

  • (I believe the most common)
  • Alex Smith’s twitter handle

You get the point. If you try all of these combinations and none of them hit, move onto another person or company.

9. Once you reverse engineer the email

Once you nail it do the Cha-cha-cha, give a fist pump, and pray that the individual will get back to you.

Tip: Make sure not to overdo it. I recommend limiting your emails to one person per company every 3-5 days. It is obnoxious to email the whole department. If that person does not respond to your email after a few days, try someone else from the company.

Below is a sample email:

(Employee’s first or last name,)

I’m an avid user of (the company name). I applied for the (business analyst) position. I came across you on LinkedIn, and was very interested in your expertise.

I’m a grad student in the (Information Management Program) at (Syracuse University). My passion lies in (community engagement and digital marketing). During college (state your achievement and describe what you did).

This summer my goals are to contribute to a (tech company) as well as to be in a strong learning environment. Given my experience, I know I can be a valuable asset to your company. I know you are busy, but if you have sometime to chat over the phone or grab coffee, I would really appreciate it. I can be contacted at ( and reached at (555) 555 – 5555. My resume is attached.


(your name)

Tip: If you are not an avid user of their service say something that caught your eye about their company, whether that is a news item, achievement, or something about the company that you appreciate.

10. Record your progress

It is extremely important to stay organized during the internship process. I recommend that you make a list of your emails. List the company name, the employee’s name, title, email, and the date you emailed them. You can email someone else from their company if they don’t respond within 3-5 days. If you do end up emailing someone else from the company, the likelihood is that they use the same email format, so there is very little guess-work.

A mock example below (names are made up):

11. Next steps

Once the potential employer emails you to setup a phone or in-person interview the hard work is not done. If my readers love this post I will highlight the next hack on how to come prepared to the table.

If you do use this hack and find success or have any recommendations feel free to email me at!