“Landing My Dream Internship at Spotify: How I applied for an internship...

“Landing My Dream Internship at Spotify: How I applied for an internship that didn’t exist!” – by Andrea Tiutan.

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This article was first published on Medium.120411 SpotifySpotify

Andrea.
Andrea.

I have been a huge Spotify fan for years. They have an amazing product, great company culture and it had always been my dream to work for one their offices. However, I never had the courage to even take a glimpse at their job listings for internships. But during the first month I was back to school, a friend mentioned that she was intent on applying to Spotify for the upcoming summer, and I thought, “if she could dream of doing it, why can’t I?

It was the fall semester of my junior year — career fairs and recruiting events were in motion and all my friends were stressed about summer internships. I had just returned from my last internship at a San Francisco startup and my heart was dead set on working for another tech company. However, I knew most tech startups began recruitment much later than the large companies my friends were applying for. I spent most of my fall semester in anxiety, especially since most of my friends had accepted offers by the end of November.

I spent my winter break reading every article I could find that concerned how to get a job at Spotify. Aside from having noteworthy past experience and internal referrals, it seemed like the majority of Spotify employees used creative methods to get their application noticed. This gave me my strategy: I needed to submit a creative application to make myself stand out.

1. No one cares about your resume (kind of):
Making a creative application is easier said than done. I spent many long weeks brainstorming for ideas. I thought about constructing 3D models representing music and sending it to their NYC headquarters. I considered making a music video or attempting to write a catchy rap song about my love for Spotify (thankfully that idea never materialized). Eventually, I realized that I not only had to do something creative, but I needed to present something that would provide instant value to the company. If Spotify wanted to know about my previous work experiences or education, they would look at my Linkedin profile. My application needed to show them not just what I HADDONE, but also demonstrate what I WOULD DO when hired.

I wanted to work for their marketing team, but I had no idea what would impress them. I let one question guide my ideation: “What information would I want to know if I was CMO of Spotify?”

Although Spotify seemed to be dominating the music streaming market, the growth of Apple Music was accelerating. I realized that running a market research project on how consumers were reacting to Apple Music could help Spotify’s marketing team better understand the strengths and weaknesses of Apple’s streaming service and simultaneously reveal growth opportunities for Spotify to maintain their competitive advantage.

My project was set: I would do a survey-based market research study comparing Spotify with Apple Music and present data-backed ideas on how Spotify could maintain market dominance. I also decided to code a website to present my findings. This would not only show off my technical skills, but make my application as shareable as possible, encouraging recruiters to easily send my application to decision makers with a click of a button.

The one thing I’ve learned from conducting surveys in my business classes is that nobody likes to take them! If I wanted 100 responses, I needed a survey platform that was aesthetically pleasing and frictionless for the survey taker. I decided to use Typeform, a web-based platform, to create an engaging survey. The results were better than I could have imagined. I was concerned that I would not reach 100 responses, but I received over 200.

2. Becoming the Perfect Candidate:
Now that I had a compelling idea to show Spotify the kind of work I could do, the next step was to actually work on becoming the perfect candidate for the job. First, I thought I should research and interview former Spotify marketing interns. This was actually harder than I thought it would be, as I quickly realized that most Spotify interns were hired onto their engineering or sales teams. I did not let this deter me however.

Eventually, I was able to find one person, and only one person, who was a former marketing intern at Spotify. Lucky for me, she was connected with a former coworker of mine. He introduced us via Facebook and the former intern was kind enough to give me advice. She shared that her experience with the statistical software package SPSS, a tool that marketing teams use for data analysis, was one of the main reasons why she was hired. Taking her advice, I borrowed assignments from my friends who used SPSS in their classes and taught myself how to use the platform.

I also studied the Linkedin profiles of Spotify’s marketing leadership, because I wanted to understand how their past experiences helped them get hired at Spotify, and how I could make myself a competitive candidate. I tried to answer:

  • What do they value in the workplace?
  • What software platforms do they use in their job?
  • What skills are essential as a marketing associate at Spotify?

I knew that researching and understanding my future hiring managers would help me cater my answers to their interview questions to what they wanted to hear. All this would also help me know how to present my market research project in the most compelling way.

3. Applying for an Internship that Did Not Exist:
Spring had finally arrived. I had a value-adding project, a creative way to present it, and research on everything I needed to know to be a competitive candidate. I had everything I needed to make an amazing application, but I was still missing one thing: Spotify had still not posted their internships!

Suddenly, I was worried. Were they even going to post internships this year? What if they only hired interns for their engineering or sales teams? What if I did all this work, spending countless nights working on my application and becoming the perfect candidate and I didn’t even get the chance to apply?

As stressful as these uncertainties were, I knew that I would have felt even worse had I not tried to begin with. What did I really have to lose? I knew from the beginning that there was no guarantee and that this would require many long weekends of work. I was mentally prepared to give my all if it meant that I had even the slightest chance of working at my dream company. Regardless of the outcome, I knew that my experience would help me develop skills for my future profession, show me that my passion to succeed had no bounds, and prove that I was willing to work hard and sacrifice for my dreams.

Despite this resolve to come out a winner no matter the outcome, I knew that I had to take action. If Spotify wasn’t going to post open internships, then I would have to get their attention in other ways.

I took a weekend and used my amaetur HTML skills to present my research results on a website (thank you Myspace). I emailed my website to a few Spotify recruiters that I found on LinkedIn; however, my ultimate goal was to get the attention of marketing leadership. I figured recruiters probably received a ton of cold emails, so a better approach would be to target the people that I wanted to work with directly. During my last internship, I learned how to scrape email addresses of company employees from the internet. I used this skill to find the emails of target Spotify employees and sent my application directly to the marketing managers in Spotify’s US and Swedish offices.

4. The Response:

A few hours after I sent my emails, I received my first response. I was shocked. It had worked. The email was from one of the recruiters. She gave a link to a hidden application with some words of advice:

I was thrilled. An internship application DID exist, but it just wasn’t publically available. My initiative had paid off.

An hour later, I received another email. This time it was from a Swedish marketing manager. He was impressed with my website! Then, the next day, I received an email from one of their US marketing managers. My plan had worked. I had made a impression, and they were sharing my website with each other.

The US manager wrote:

“I was forwarded along your Apple Music vs. Spotify work, which is fantastic. The “hire” button was a nice touch. 🙂 I will get you set up with our internship coordinator, then let’s set aside some time to chat.”

I was ecstatic. All my months of hard work was paying off. I could already hear the New York traffic and taste the sweet victory of biting into that famous New York hotdog.

Our email thread seemed to be going great. But then when I sent a few follow up emails, silence. Weeks passed, and I still had no response from their HR team concerning the interview process. It was nearly mid-March and although they liked my website, I still had no guarantee of an internship.

5. My “Interview”:
I was planning on flying to New York in late March for spring break — maybe Spotify would want to meet if I was in town. I sent some emails to the people I had been in contact with and asked if they wanted to have coffee. They all said yes. Two weeks later, I toured their NYC headquarters and met with one of their marketing managers. Our meeting wasn’t suppose to be an interview (or so I thought). It was just a “casual conversation.” We talked about my project, how I quantified the data, where I got the idea, and my future goals.

I was called back the next day to have a quick meeting with another associate. Then a day after that, minutes before I was about to watch my first Broadway play, I received an email from their marketing team. They were offering me the opportunity to be a summer intern for their Strategic Consumer Insights team!

*Squeal*

6. Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do:
Getting my Spotify internship was difficult. I was stressed for months. I struggled to juggle 20 units of classes, work, school clubs and still have energy to work on my Spotify application. My friends would complain that they didn’t see me anymore and that I spent too many long weeks doubting myself.

Through it all, I not only landed my dream internship, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. I learned SPSS and how to develop a website, the true meaning of time management and how to conduct an amateur market research study. But mostly I learned the power in believing in myself and chasing my dreams.

At the end of everyday, when I would sit at my desk and try to convince myself to fight against exhaustion and work on my Spotify application, I would stare at two green sticky notes. One said, “Spotify.” The other said, “DREAMS DON’T WORK UNLESS YOU DO.” As cliche as it sounds, I attribute these words to the success of my project.

If you would like to see the full website I built from my market research project, check out my insights here: www.AndreaTiutan.com/Spotify


Andrea Tiutan is a student at the University of Arizona graduating in Spring 2017. She is majoring in Management Information Systems and receiving her second degree in Spanish with a concentration in Portuguese. She has held several marketing positions via her internship at Netpulse and her experiences as the website development director for UofA’s student led marketing team. She has a passion for tech culture and hopes to work on the west coast upon graduation. You can contact Andrea through LinkedIn.

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