For the past two years, Kleiner Perkins has operated a summer fellowship program to place top engineering and design talent from colleges at the firm’s portfolio companies. Today, the firm is expanding this program to include a year-long product manager track that allows recent grands from college and graduate school gain experience in product roles.
As we’ve explained in the past, the benefit is two-fold: students get to work at the startup level, are mentored and startups get access to talent that could become full-time. The Engineering and Design fellows program has been a summer program, where students are placed in internship-like roles at portfolio companies for three months at a time. With the product track, Kleiner was seeking to really immerse potential product managers into a startup, with the hope that the post-grad could eventually land a more permanent role with the company.
The KPCB Product Fellows Program is open to U.S. undergraduate or graduate students who will complete their school in 2014. The program is one year-long and starts in July of 2014. The desired candidate has a degree in computer science, engineering, math, physics or other fields related to software engineering. Applicants with
additional, or joint, degrees in design, business or other relevant fields encouraged.
The program’s engineering and design tracks have been successful so far–since launch, Kleiner Perkins has received nearly 2,500 applications. In total, there have been 65 Engineering Fellows and 12 Design fellows. Of these fellows, over 90% received offers to join the company the following year. In fact, a 2012 engineering Fellow (Dylan Field, Brown) went on to raise a $3.8 million dollar round in seed funding for his start-up (Figma). Last year, 15 Kleiner-backed companies are hosting Engineering Fellows including Apcera, AppDynamics, Chegg, Coursera, Gumroad, Klout, Nebula, Nest, OKL, Opower, ShapeSecurity, Shopkick, Square, Twitter and Upthere.
As Kleiner Pekins partner Juliet de Baubigny explains to me Kleiner will try to match students and companies based on their interests, and expertise (if they have any specialization). And the fellow will be receiving a salary directly from the portfolio company, and this will be consistent with an entry-level product manager position.
Landing a product role at a hot startup can be a challenging job for any student out of school–the Kleiner program allows recent grads to see if they really want to focus on product, and allows a company to test out whether the individual is a good fit. And Kleiner brings more talent to the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem. Interested students can apply for the fellowships here.