Tesla slashes its summer internship program to cut costs, as Elon Musk fights to save his $45 billion pay plan


Elon Musk’s latest cost-cutting victims: Summer interns.

Tesla Inc. is rescinding offers just weeks before internships were set to start, prompting aspiring employees to take to LinkedIn to appeal to other employers to take them in. 

“At 8:46am, I opened a Tesla email for flight info. By 11:25am, my internship offer was gone,” wrote Miami University student Joshua Schreiber, who said his start date was three weeks away and that he had already spent “thousands on housing.”

Schreiber, like many other would-be Tesla interns, are getting dangerously close to the end of the school year. They say the surprise calls from Tesla informing students that their offers no longer stand have left them without a lot of time to find replacement gigs for the summer.

In one instance, a current Tesla employee posted on LinkedIn, asking her own virtual network to step up and nab one of the interns that was meant to start soon at the carmaker. “Please make our loss your gain!” wrote Diana Rosenberg, who works in battery supply at Tesla, according to her profile.

Rosenberg blamed the decision to rescind the intern offer on the massive layoffs unfolding at the carmaker.  

Last month, Musk announced that Tesla had “made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally.” Since then, several executives have left the company as Musk has pushed for further cuts. Most of the company’s 500-person Supercharger division and its newly formed marketing division have been axed, Bloomberg News has reported. 

People familiar with Musk’s thinking have said the billionaire is determined to cut head count amid sagging electric vehicle sales and big expenditures for his Robotaxi dreams. They say Musk is targeting a 20% reduction, Bloomberg reported.

Revoking intern offers isn’t likely to save Tesla much money. At least one of the posts was for an unpaid position, while paid internships at the automaker typically offer $18 to $28 an hour, according to data from Glassdoor. 

But the decisions will have an impact in the company’s hiring pipeline: More than 3,000 university and community college students from around the world are hired for Tesla internships each year, according to the company’s last Impact Report. “Perform meaningful work from day one,” reads the company’s intern website. 

The move has also delivered a stark life lesson to the students.

“Rejection is redirection,” wrote Brook Gura, a communications student at the University of Texas at Austin, who said that she got a call that her offer was yanked three weeks before her start date as part of the company’s mass layoffs. “While I am incredibly disappointed that I will not have the summer I intended to have, I know that this moment will only help me grow stronger as a professional.” 

Gura, Schreiber and Rosenberg declined to comment beyond their posts. Musk didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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