First-Hand Accounts Of Interning At Tesla And SpaceX




Tesla Model S and Model X at the factory in Fremont, California

Interns at Tesla and SpaceX provide telling anonymous firsthand accounts.

What do interns think of working for Tesla … SpaceX … Elon Musk? CNBC compiled some comments from Glassdoor (a website that showcases employees’ and former employees’ anonymous workplace reviews).


Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

According to CNBC, and not surprisingly, getting an internship at Tesla or SpaceX is no easy task. Once hired, expect to work hard and long. But, the resume material, and potentially listing Elon Musk as a reference, is surely well worth the effort.

Tesla pays its interns about $4,480 a month (median), and those interning at SpaceX will get about $400 less, based on information from Glassdoor. This is pretty good money, especially for an internship, though other tech companies – particularly those based in Silicon Valley – tend to pay well. CNBC notes that Facebook pays an average of about $8,000 per month.

Let’s take a look at what the interns had to share.  (via Glassdoor as compiled/via by CNBC)

What’s it like to intern at Tesla?


“Working at Tesla is a lot like drinking from a firehose of sorts; you will be pushed beyond your comfort zone, be given an immense amount of responsibility, and learn a ton in a very short amount of time. I would consider all of these ‘pros’ of working at the company, since these are the conditions under which I thrive the most. But, understandably, not everyone likes to be constantly under the pressure of unrealistic deadlines or working more hours than you would at most other companies. It is, though, a great place to grow in a very short amount of time, and it sure does look good on a resume.

“I am as big a Musk fanboy as anybody, but working at Tesla does sort of have a cult-ish feel to it. Everyone is a fanboy and Musk’s word is law.

“For most people, the lower-than-average salary might not justify the immense workload.”

— Electrical engineering intern in Palo Alto, Calif.

“Unrealistic deadlines”

“Fast-paced, dynamic work environment with employees that are incredibly enthusiastic about what they do. Communication is key and they focus heavily on making sure everyone is on the same page so projects get completed efficiently and surpass expectations.

“Some projects had unrealistic deadlines, which was somewhat discouraging.”

— Manufacturing test engineering in Fremont, Calif.

“There’s really nobody … doing as exciting stuff”

“It is a company filled with energetic and bright people who are the best at what they do! The products are exciting and there’s really nobody else in the Bay area that’s doing as exciting stuff as Tesla is.

“Long hours and hard work but anything that’s worth it doesn’t come easy! The pay and perks aren’t as great as other surrounding companies in the Bay but that will soon change when [Tesla] Model 3 takes off! I have strong faith in the company’s long term success.”

— Engineering intern in Fremont, Calif.

“Love the free breakfast”

“I absolutely love it here! Everyone shares the same vision and works so hard voluntarily. Love the free breakfast and unlimited juice and fountain drinks. Haven’t met a single person who’s an a*****e here, everyone is super helpful and nice. Interns get treated like a full-time [employee], given the trust to take on major projects.

“Long hours are often needed to get work done but not required. The parking situation is frustrating. Toilet stalls are always full in the office. Conference rooms are hard to book.”

— Hourly intern in Fremont, Calif.

SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California

What’s it like to intern at SpaceX?

“You see Elon Musk in person”

“Pros: Comprehensive industry exposure, real responsibilities, future employment opportunities, working close to production, good pay, inside look at Mars efforts, living and working with other interns, subsidized meal prices, seeing Elon Musk in person, free frozen yogurt.

“Cons: Long hours, steep learning curve, some self-teaching, little room for error, strict deadlines, not in a great part of LA, free frozen yogurt.”

— Hourly intern in Hawthorne, Calif.

“Pretty much everyone is overworked”

“In general, the expectations are stressful and demanding but the work is awesome. There is no other company that parallels. You will learn a lot as an intern.

“Pretty much everyone is overworked. The days are long and the work is intense. Workers are expected to be self-reliant. For that reason, management sometimes is less involved. Could be a pro or a con depending on what type of worker you are.”

— Propulsion development engineer intern in Hawthorne, Calif.

“You go to work every morning at a rocket factory. Just think about that for a second”

“The culture here is just amazing. The bulk of the Hawthorne office is laid out with an open floor plan, so you’re working in the close vicinity of hundreds of other engineers who are just as passionate as you about the company. Just standing up from your desk, you can look across the entire office floor and see the hustle and bustle of everyone working on different things.

“You are working alongside some of the most talented engineers in the world. Find any employee to talk to and it is guaranteed they have swaths of knowledge to share with you of which you knew nothing about before.

“Great employee benefits. Subsidized meals (and you never have to eat the same thing twice) and company swag, free coffee and froyo?! This one speaks for itself.

“You go to work every morning at a rocket factory. Just think about that for a second. …

“Starting at the company can be a little bit intimidating. Everyone is extremely focused on their work so there’s somewhat little in the way of guidance. To really succeed here, you need to be motivated and take the initiative to ask questions to understand how the company operates.”

— Intern in Hawthorne, Calif.

“You make history”

“You build rockets. You make history. SpaceX is one of the most high profile companies that you can work for, and there is nothing cooler than seeing all the progress that you make being talked about around the world.

“Saying that you’re surrounded by smart people is an understatement. You are constantly challenged to be the best that you can be, and you will always have to be innovating to keep up. I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time it’s amazing to think that I’ve only been here for a few months.

“Three-year anniversaries are treated like 30-year anniversaries. Highly intense work comes at the cost of high employee turnover.

“Prospects of moving up are also very low. You will most likely be stuck in your current job unless there is a shakeup or your superior leaves.”

— Intern in Hawthorne, Calif.

Source: GlassdoorCNBC

Categories: Tesla


Leave a Reply

8 Comments on "First-Hand Accounts Of Interning At Tesla And SpaceX"

newest oldest most voted

Working on new rockets or EV technology at half the pay or working at Facebook creating fake news for twice the pay?
Seems like an easy decision.

Sounds like I have the working mindset to be a Tesla and SpaceX employee or possible higher up

At my current job I work hundreds of times harder than everyone and am always working throughout the duration of my shift while everyone else just does the least possible and goes on their phones whenever there is a chance. I myself never go on my phone because there is no need to. You are at work to work. I live in the moment and there are always things to do. I even do others work sometimes because I always have the working mindset while others are always lazy. I’m always multitasking, handle issues extremely calm and relaxed, never get pressured. People talk about gossip and other people while I talk about ideas and no one can really even discuss what I talk about to them…

Maybe I should intern for one of them…

“But, understandably, not everyone likes to be constantly under the pressure of unrealistic deadlines or working more hours than you would at most other companies.”

That’s sad to hear. So family and a social life are sacrificed. Sustainable doesn’t apply just to the products but also to the people. Kids need to see parents and parents need to have balanced home life to do well on the job.

And these are the interns, likely the pressures and lack of a sustainable life are felt more by the employees.

My son did an Electrical Engineering multiple co-op/intern with General Electric. The paid $24/hour in 2009, 2010 and $25.50 in 2012. And they rented an apartment for interns. He was paid overtime. Did not work crazy overtime either and made more than what Tesla is paying. My company pays interns/co-ops currently $23/hr. plus they get a housing allowance of $700/month. Which is easy to find a good apartment in NE Wisconsin.

Yeah, but do you study at a company that creates a new level of product every day. As an intern the object is to gain experience and knowledge that will propel you into your career not find a place to settle down and start your pension or 401K.
Nothing wrong with GE, a good steady company, but I don’t recall them inventing the recoverable rocket launch system or a 300+ range car that has the closest thing to automated driving available. If were 24 and just getting started rather than 62 and working towards retirement I would choose a Musk run company in a heart beat. I started my career in Silicon Valley at startups and young companies. A very exciting place to learn. Sun Microsystems was one such place. I loved the intensity but my wife really wanted me to change as she wanted me home more.

Yes he did.

Yeah, I somewhat understand where you are coming from. His first two co-ops were at GE lighting and there is some cool energy saving stuff going on there. The last one was at GE Healthcare and he was involved in development of low(er) cost scanners for to improve health diagnostics for clinics in underserved healthcare areas.

Should have proofed this better. A little embarrassing.