This is the time of the year when students everywhere start their quest for that rare commodity -- the summer internship. I am seeking an internship, but I find myself frustrated in this effort.

I am an electrical engineering student, eager to get the type of practical experience that my classroom education cannot provide. So I have barraged Silicon Valley with my re'sume's.

My experience typically goes like this. I am not given a chance to contact a person who works in my field -- I am to go through proper channels. So, I send my re'sume', as instructed, to the human resource department of the firm. Then I wait.

After a while, I call to follow up. I don't get to talk to a human being -- I get a voice message system. I leave a message, but nobody calls me back.

I repeat this, sometimes as many as a half dozen times, with no better results. Time goes by, and I don't hear.

Nor do I usually even get a response card. This happens even at firms where I know they are looking for many summer interns.

What can I do to increase my chances of getting through this impenetrable barrier?

Let me guess at what might be going on behind the voice message system.

Your re'sume' was probably circulated, along with hundreds of others, to a number of departments nationwide. It is probably sitting on several cluttered desks belonging to individuals who either are waiting for an opening to be approved or for a better-looking re'sume' to show up.

While they wait, they don't want to say either yes or no to you.

Every time you call the recruiter and leave a message, he or she probably calls the individuals to whom your re'sume' was sent.

They don't call him back, so the recruiter doesn't know what to tell you -- and doesn't return your call.

So what can you do to force a decision? Somehow try to personally contact a manager at one of these companies -- one of those individuals with the cluttered desk. (Look for a name in papers published by this company or in conference records, for instance).

Then, try to bug that person.

Your target probably isn't on the company voice message system, but be prepared to call a good number of times because the manager is not likely to be at his or her desk much.

When you reach the manager, offer to come in for an interview. Ask the manager: "Is right now a good time? If not, how about right after lunch?"

Chances are if this person gets to talk with you, he or she may come to a decision a lot easier than on the basis of a re'sume'.

I manage the art department of a small publishing firm.

I need to add a person to my department to help handle a critical situation that no one else here is really equipped to deal with.

My problem is that my departmental budget for this year doesn't give me room to add another position.

How can I persuade upper management to allow me to hire one more staff member?

I assume you have tried to reason with them, to no avail.

Your only remaining option is to commit to save an equivalent amount of money elsewhere.

Perhaps you could commit not to replace a person who might leave in the course of the year, instead dividing the work among the other employees.

With a firm commitment in his hand, your bosses might authorize you to temporarily get ahead of your spending plan and hire a person with the needed skills.

Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara. Send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190.