The following contribution was made by Quentin Pleplé, 2nd year student at Ecole Polytechnique, after a summer internship in Silicon Valley while hosted by Xavier Wartelle, AFAM Board Member ...
Finding an internship in Silicon Valley
The area is very active and there are a lot of startups that are looking for interns. Networking is the best way to find an internship: meet people, tell them what you are looking for, and ask them if they know someone who might be able to help you.
First, I am going to tell you how I found myself an internship. I wrote on my meetup.com profile that I was a French guy, staying in the Silicon Valley for 3 weeks. I added that I didn't know anything about cloud computing (it was a cloud computing meetup) but I was interested by hearing about it. The day after the meetup, the founder of the meetup group send me this one-line-email : "Hi, I saw that you're visiting the valley for the next 3 weeks. Care to meet for lunch some time?" After meeting him couple times, he offered me a 3-month-internship. Yes, it is that simple.
Go to meetups
I would recommend you to go to as many meetups as possible. What are meetups? Meetups are arranged informal meetings about a topic (or not, sometimes only for networking) organized on the website meetup.com. The process is very simple: you just have to sign in, fill out your profile and browse meetups. The objective is to meet the maximum amount of people. Pick up all the meetups that interest you and that you can reach (buy car/train/bike/...), and don't forget networking meetups (not specific topic, only networking).
Fill in your Meetup profile
Say who you are and what you are looking for. People may want to look at your meetup profile if they try to find a way to contact you, or in order to understand well what you need. So, you would better have well documented profiles on social networks.
Speak about you
It is very interesting to listen to startup founders to talk about their project, but they will eventually ask you what you do in the bay area. Make sure not to elude the question. Speak about yourself. It can be hard the first times but how can you find an internship without speaking about it?
Conversations turn often the same way: basically, they meet, talk about their occupation/need, and exchange their business card. So, you should think about this, and build your own speech : What do I need from other people ? What am I looking for?
Be as precise as possible
What to do if you don't know exactly what your are looking for? Consider that people you meet will either forget you or remember one thing about you, only one. By being too widely open to internship offers, people may forget you. It is better to insist on one precise idea even if you are open to more than that ("I am looking for an administrative assistant internship in the sale department of a company with more than 100 employees."), and get people remember you rather than being too vague ("I am looking a internship in a sales department, in any company").
Get a personal business card
If you want people to contact you back, you have to find an easy way to give them your contact information. Your can have some basic business card printed for less than $15 for 50 cards.
Meet new people
If you are going to many meetups, you will certainly meet some people several times. Although it is important to speak to them to maintain your network, you should try as much as possible to meet new people every time. It can be hard to go meet people you don't know when you have some friends in the same room, but it is important in order to keep your network growing.
After talking to people who may be able to help you during a meetup, stay in touch: send them a short email resuming what you are looking for, connect with them on social networks like Linked In, Facebook or Twitter.