Last year, venture firm Kleiner Perkins debuted its plans for a summer internship program to place top engineering talent from colleges at the firm’s portfolio companies. The benefit is two-fold: students get to work at the startup level, are mentored (and have the prestige of Kleiner Perkins on their resume) and startups get access to young engineering talent. Today, Kleiner is debuting the first inaugural class of the fellow program.
As Kleiner explains, the goal of the paid fellowship is to give engineering students the experience of working on tough technical problems at startups. Fellows are placed at Kleiner portfolio startups and are also invited to exclusive events at Twitter and Zynga, where they can network.
In total, 25 fellows were chosen from nearly a thousand applicants from over 100 universities. The universities the class of fellows are joining from are Franklin Olin, Rice, Princeton, UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, UCSD, University of Michigan, Duke, and University of Kentucky. Sample summer projects include working on an energy efficiency insight algorithm on Opower’s data platform, and developing graph analysis to provide data insight that will drive product designs at Klout.
Kleiner portfolio companies hosting fellows include Klout, Path, Chegg, Nest, Zaarly, One Kings Lane, Opower, Flipboard, Crittercism, Nebula, Zynga and Shopkick.
The Kleiner Fellows program isn’t the first of its kind among venture firms. True Ventures launched the Entrepreneurs Corps (TEC) a few years ago, which also undergraduate students in the fund’s early-stage portfolio companies for paid summer internships. Andreessen Horowitz has also been helping portfolio companies recruit talet at colleges via events.
And I expect we’re going to see more firms launch similar programs for their portfolio companies to access talent. Many of these smaller startups could not afford to recruit at colleges and/or compete with large companies like Google, Microsoft or Facebook for college talent. And the firms are able to help college students gain access to working at lesser known startups.