Kleiner Perkins wants startups to net top-notch summer interns

Startups want to lure student interns from universities like MIT (pictured.)

Startups want to lure student interns from universities like MIT (pictured).

Exclusive. If you’re a college student, a summer internship at a top Silicon Valley tech company can be a pretty sweet deal: The pay is good, the perks are many and perhaps most importantly, you get a reputable name to anchor your resume — which at this point in your life, is probably pretty short.

Of course, there are lots of great technology startups that offer great internships as well. But top engineering students often pass those opportunities because they want the money and name recognition that such companies as Google and Microsoft can provide.

That’s why Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is lending its startups a hand with a new initiative aimed at attracting top-tier engineering students to summer internships. The storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm has partnered with InternMatch to launch a new program called the KPCB Fellowship.

Leveling the playing field

Essentially, the KPCB Fellowship aims to provide students with all the benefits they would receive from a summer internship at an established tech company — but while working at a startup. The fellowship will accept up to 25 graduate and undergraduate engineering students, and each will be employed for the summer at one of Kleiner Perkins’ portfolio companies (Flipboard, Groupon, Chegg and Klout are among the startups participating). In addition to their day jobs, the summer interns will be assigned an industry mentor and receive invitations to private speaking events with people in Kleiner Perkins’ impressive Rolodex. The students will all receive competitive wages and housing relocation assistance.

InternMatch is helping to promote the KPCB Fellowship on its website, which is focused on giving students an in-depth look at the internship opportunities available to them. The deadline to apply for summer 2012, the inaugural season of the KPCB Fellowship, is approaching fast: Applications for the program are due on Oct. 31.

What’s in a name? A lot.

The Kleiner Perkins name serves as a huge draw in itself, InternMatch co-founder Nathan Parcells tells me. “Startups like Klout have great brand recognition in the Silicon Valley community, but that doesn’t always reach to top schools that great engineers are coming out of, particularly the ones on the East Coast like MIT. This fellowship offers the full Silicon Valley experience, and it also says you can get the great brand name recognition of having one of the top venture capital firms in the world on your CV.”

Now, Kleiner Perkins is not the only venture capital firm to do such a thing: True Ventures, for example, has held a similar program called True Entrepreneur Corps for the past few years (please see the disclosure below). InternMatch also has a partner page with Sequoia Capital to help it promote internship opportunities at the firm and its partner companies.

In all, I think, initiatives like these are positive any way you slice it: They can help startups recruit top-notch young engineers as full-time employees — and ultimately foster more innovation in technology overall.

Photo of MIT Building 10 and the Great Dome courtesy of John Phelan via Creative Commons license

Disclosure: True Ventures is an investor in the parent company of this blog, GigaOM. Om Malik, the founder of GigaOM, is also a venture partner at True.

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