How To Secure A Tesla Intern Position?

JUN 21 2017 BY EVANNEX 7


Tesla’s Fremont Factory


Those of us who only dimly remember our college days may have an outdated view of what it means to be an intern. Days of tedious trips to the copy machine for no pay? Not in today’s Silicon Valley.

According to the web site Glassdoor, interns at Tesla make a median monthly pay of $4,480, and SpaceX interns make $4,080. And that’s low by Valley standards – Facebook pays its interns an average of $8,000 per month.

At Tesla, it doesn’t sound like interns are emptying wastebaskets or making coffee.

“The role I was in was very similar to that of a full-time mechanical engineer,” said one anonymous Tesla intern (thanks to BGR, Quora and CNBC for the quotes). “I was thrown in the deep end with my projects, having received very little help from my superiors,” said another. “They wanted to whip me into shape, ready to perform as a full-time engineer. I initially saw this as a negative, but I prevailed and am glad they treated me this way.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of Evannex (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.


A glimpse of work at Tesla (Source: Tesla)

Comments from various interns, some of whom later landed full-time jobs, confirm some of our preconceptions about Tesla. Total dedication and very hard work is expected – the phrase “unrealistic deadlines” comes up a lot.

“Tesla is not a typical company and you should not work for them unless you’re willing to put in 200%,” says one intern. “Working at Tesla is a lot like drinking from a firehose,” says another. “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.”

Noting that you are likely to be assigned a project “that needs to be completed in a ridiculously short timeframe, utilizing skills that are either unfamiliar or underdeveloped,” one intern advises that you leave some slots open in the day to “panic.”

However, there’s a reason that team members are willing to work so hard. “I absolutely love it here!” writes one trainee. “Everyone shares the same vision and works so hard voluntarily. Haven’t met a single person who’s an a**hole here, everyone is super-helpful and nice. Interns get treated like [full-time employees], given the trust to take on major projects.”


Interns at Tesla’s Fremont Factory (Twitter: @RyanHLevenson)

Many others echo these sentiments: “Great environment. The culture is amazing because you are surrounded by smart people.” “Fast-paced, dynamic work environment with employees that are incredibly enthusiastic about what they do.”

There’s no question that Tesla offers a challenging work environment, but former interns report that it isn’t the sweatshop that some reports make it out to be. Work/life balance is valued, and there are breaks for ping-pong and plenty of guidance from employees. “Long hours are often needed to get work done but not required,” notes one intern. “You work on your main project for most of the day and side projects are fillers for when you need a break. Have lunch with other interns. Mentors always there for consulting and the work hours are reasonable so you can have a life outside of Tesla (if that’s what you are into).”

Is Elon Musk a difficult boss? “I have met him personally and I do not believe this is accurate,” says one trainee. “Use common sense and don’t approach him while he is working away at his desk. Several interns have done this and I’m not sure what they were thinking.” However, there’s no doubt that the man inspires awe. The word “cult” comes up more than once in these accounts. “I am as big a Musk fanboy as anybody, but working at Tesla does sort of have a cultish feel to it. Everyone is a fanboy and Musk’s word is law.”

So, how to land such a coveted gig? It helps to understand the overall ethos at Tesla. The consensus is that only those with strong practical skills need apply. “Your academic background is important but not as much as your technical skills.”

Tufts University, which has prepared a number of young people for careers at Tesla, has collected a few tips from those who made the cut. Do your research, and be prepared for a lot of highly technical questions, one intern advises. “Connections matter,” says another. “When somebody introduces you to HR, they’re recommending you for the position themselves. However, when you apply online, who’s recommending you?”

“Don’t apply for the jobs you want to be doing, but the jobs that will get you to where you want to be,” says one veteran of the process. “An internship is a stepping stone, and is anything but permanent.”

Blast from the past: An old 2011 recruiting video that centers mostly around work at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters location (Source: Tesla)

A bit of advice that will probably serve you well in any interview: ask questions. “While it isn’t mandatory that you ask things, it always helps to show your interest in the position,” says one who made it. “Asking questions at the end also makes sure you don’t finish the session off in an awkward silence.”

At least one thing hasn’t changed since our college days: it sounds like the interns are always hungry. Many of them write about the culinary perks at Tesla, which include free breakfast and unlimited trendy beverages.

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

Categories: Tesla

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

7 Comments on "How To Secure A Tesla Intern Position?"

newest oldest most voted

As someone who showed up to an event where Tesla was hiring, I can tell you what not to do. When they’re looking for mechanical engineers and you’re a computer engineer, don’t go.

Wait… no, that was probably fine. The issue was you were supposed to book an appointment in advance, but the flyers on campus didn’t mention that. Mech engineers were told about that by their professors, but as someone in computer engineering, I didn’t hear until I showed up to the event.

Anyways… gave them my resume and never heard back. Now I’m married and own a home in Boston, so it’ll be awhile before I feel comfortable pursuing a Silicon Valley job again.

By law, interns must be paid if they do any work related to the company. Tesla is paying peanuts, I’m not sure if this will be ok with the labor dept. Of course, they could have the interns emptying the trash and say they didn’t really do the work related to the bottom line.

Even we paid the interns more, and it wasn’t even the silicon valley.

There would a hell of a lot more interns if they didn’t need to be paid at all, depending on their experience / expertise. Unfortunately, law prevents that from happening, and kids suffer by not being able to gain experience before getting a real job.

Nonsense. $4000/month is above the median per capita income in the US. As an intern this is just fine.

Sure Facebook pays more, but Facebook isn’t exactly that interesting unless you work for their experimental projects. Hmm, do you want to tweak the performance of an ad server or help revolutionize the automotive industry?

In Silly Valley $4,000/month (subtract payroll taxes) is just a notch above the poverty line.

Yes but these aren’t full time positions. The experience is worth 10 times the salary.

Experience is worth infinitely more than the the salary. However, paying them less than going rate for people doing similar jobs could be considered illegal. The law is completely idiotic, but that’s what it is.

No one will work in SiVly if you paid them the “national median”. That means these interns could be getting paid far less than what is legal.

When I was looking for interns, many of them asked me not to get paid or paid minimum wage so that they can get more experience. Sadly, that wasn’t possible due to legal reasons.

The low pay and the super high cost of living in San Fransisco is why I wouldn’t go move to Silicon Valley no mater how much respect it would have on a resume in that I would be left broke form it.

If Tesla was in my area and they where paying $4,000 a month for a inturnship I would be living like a King.