Ultimate South Bay Guide For Interns

Congratulations on getting your first, or second, or fifth internship in the Bay Area! 🌉 You must love tech! 💻

This article is for interns who are extroverted, from major cities, and would like to make the most out of your summer social life in the Bay, in specific — South Bay.

In my short and sweet stay in Mountain View, I got to visit Pixar, 23AndMe, Quora (in addition to so many other tech companies!); went to a music festival by the beach; spent most weekends in SF (despite living almost 2 hours away in Mountain View); met Marissa Mayer; interacted with Emily Chang (author of Brotopia); and even have a favourite Google building for lunch (1365 is awesome 🤤) Attending countless intern events, re-connecting with university friends, and meeting new people every day helped me build more meaningful friendships, expand my startup network, and have so much fun!

A little bit about me: I’m Tania, study in HK, and I did a 6-month internship in a startup called Zingbox in Mountain View writing front end code. I am quite extroverted — I get energy from socialising and meeting new people. You should be able to tell from the rest of the article. I spent most of my weekends in SF because I am a city girl, but I still made the most out of living & working in Mountain View.

Here are a few things I’ll write about:

  1. Understanding your internship
  2. Housing
  3. Transportation
  4. Fun stuff (so what can I do exactly other than work???)
  5. How I got the most out of my 6-months

Ok let’s start with “Understanding your internship”.

Your internship is highly correlated to your social life, especially if it’s your first time interning in the Bay Area! Are you working at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Nvidia, Adobe, Cisco… etc? Are you in the Bay for summer internship programs, off-cycle internships or 1-year long internships?

Let’s move on to “Housing”.

Location is really key. Everything is so spread out in South Bay, so if you don’t have a car, and don’t want to spend hella on Uber/Lyft rides (if your company reimburses you then you’re lucky) then you better choose a place with good access to supermarkets, restaurants and ideally the Caltrain station (especially if you’d like to go to SF often). Close to an In-n-Out or Five Guys is always a plus (normal South Bay restaurants, excluding Palo Alto & San Jose, don’t go past 9pm). Palo Alto seems to be the most poppin’ when it comes to nightlife, and there’s San Jose and Mountain View. If you’re living south of Mountain View, I doubt you’d want to go to San Francisco much. In my experience, Sunnyvale & Santa Clara are really quiet. Cupertino is too but it has a few good boba places & really good Asian food. Places like FB housing groups, PadPiper, and CraigsList will be your best friend 🙌🏼. Personally I found housing via CraigsList! A lot of people are looking for roommates during internship periods too :) you are not alone in the housing search.

Tips: Find or create a community house and live with cool people OR live with friends you know already and enjoy spending time together OR find a convenient location and socialise crazy outside of work/ home — this is what I did!

Transportation

A lot of companies have TicketsAtWork perks and you can get discounts for car rentals as well (know your perks)! However if you are under 25 years old, might need to pay more insurance for underage fees. Personally, most of my weekends are spent in SF and I had Uber-reimbursement for getting to work so a car rental didn’t make too much sense.

Other options:

Fun Stuff! What are fun stuff to do in the Bay?

So last topic: How did I get the most out of my 6 months?

During the summer — on weekdays — I spent 8 hours of my day at work, and lined up every evening with events (easier if they are in Palo Alto/ Mountain View/ Sunnyvale) and dinners with new friends. When summer was coming to an end, I discovered Open Mic @ Red Rock Coffee and went there religiously almost every Monday afterwards (even tried standup comedy at open mic once 😝). Soon after I started discovering communities like Mission Control (not the play party place in Oakland), Castro Crib, Fell House, Minerva students… etc (they're all in SF). It’s just much easier to make friends in SF if you are in the Bay not during the summer (less interns for off-cycle internships!). I spent every weekend throughout my stay in the Bay in SF (got lucky and always had a place to crash) hanging out at Dolores Park, going to Female Founder Happy Hours and other events. I went to several DJ shows and a music festival. After summer ended, I didn’t do too much crazy networking, event hunting or traveling, but just focused on living in the city (and Mountain View, barely). 🏔

I became so much closer with a school friend who lived in SF during the summer because I crashed at her place every weekend and we went to events together. I even met my boyfriend through going to startup-related events in SF. From not knowing anyone in the Bay prior this internship to now in the process of starting a femtech company with Entrepreneur First in Hong Kong, the network I have built over time in Femtech, female founders communities, VCs, and startups in general has been really helpful! Thank you SF/Bay Area!

I hope the examples in this article will be useful for your upcoming internship in the Bay Area. I really liked both SF and Mountain View a lot in different ways, hope you do too!

Ta-da! There’s your ultimate South Bay guide as an intern. All in all, there’s a lot to do in the summer (especially if you work in a big company with big intern programs); if you’re working hard for a return offer — don’t forget to relax a little, make a few new friends and enjoy the city (SF)! For meeting people: other than going to events, grabbing coffee ☕️ is always great. Bay Area people generally are quite down to meet.

Side note: for fellow ladies out there — I’ll write a separate guide on how not to accidentally be misleading (dating wise); from experience: anything happening after sundown/ over the weekends & alone can be easily considered as a date/ flirting. Otherwise, grabbing coffee is great. ✌🏼

Have fun in the tech capital of the world 🌎, make the most use of your time⌚️, and all the best 💯🎉!

Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn — I’d love to share more about Entrepreneur First (they have global locations!), chat about femtech, or if you just want to say hi 👋🏼

i write code and throw parties. currently coding @gitstart.com and writing a bilingual mental health newsletter