One of the easiest ways to gain experience and get a future job is through a computer science internship. I believe that an internship is a great way to experience first-hand what a job in your field will be like. It may even be a factor in deciding whether you want to continue to pursue a certain career or go down another path. Some colleges partner with companies, making an internship easy to get. However, other times getting an internship can feel like a struggle. It doesn’t have to be.
The good news is a lot of large companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. offer internships which often lead to full-time positions. Often, these companies prefer hiring a prior intern over other applicants.
I was never lucky enough to get a computer science internship, but I wish I had been. Not only do internships offer you an advantage at the company your working for, they can open the door to so many opportunities.
Why You Should Do A Computer Science Internship
The answer to this is simple. When you’re trying to get your first real job in the IT industry, companies are going to want to hire candidates with experience. If I’m trying to decide on whether I should hire a candidate with experience or one without, it’s obvious who I’m going to choose. Completing an internship will give you an advantage when it comes time to get a full-time job after college. Although its not necessary to complete an internship in order to get a job, it will make the process a whole lot easier. In addition, you’re in a better situation to negotiate a higher salary if you have a computer science internship on your resume. Overall, there are a ton of benefits to doing an internship.
How To Get A Computer Science Internship
Getting a computer science internship can seem hard at first. To be honest, sometimes it is. You might be wondering where to start or what companies you’d be interested in interning at.
Here are some tips on how to get a computer science internship:
Create A Professional Resume
The first step to getting a computer science internship is to create a resume. Having a good resume is the first step to getting an interview. Most companies will expect you to have one and if you don’t, well don’t expect a call back.
Even though you probably won’t have much experience in IT yet, it’s still the professional thing to do. You will also want to create a cover letter and tailor it to target each company you’re applying to. Not only should you explain why you want the job, but also why the skills you have would make you a good fit. I recommend having an adviser, friend or mentor review your resume for you.
I recommend keeping your resume no longer than one page. Add your Github profile to your resume if you have one, and include links to projects you’ve coded. For more help in this area, read my article on how to write a great technical resume.
Search For Internships Online
Don’t rely on the career center at your college or university to get a job for you. Search for internships on your own. Chances are, you can probably land yourself a better one this way. There are hundreds of thousands of companies that advertise internship opportunities online. Whether it be on their website or on job boards, you can find them out there!
I literally searched for programming internships on Indeed and 3,846 jobs came up! One of them is for the Philadelphia Eagles, pretty cool right?
Apply To Companies Directly
One of the best ways to avoid competing for a computer science internship is by applying to companies directly. I recommend thinking about companies that you’re interested in working for, and applying directly on their website. Make a list and then apply to your top choices. Do you have friends or peers that have had internships at specific companies? More reason to apply.
The best companies to apply to are obviously the big-name companies. However, that doesn’t mean that you should stop there. The more companies you apply to, the higher your chances are of getting an interview. The more interviews you get, the higher chance you have of landing an internship or having multiple offers for internships.
Have A Portfolio With Side Projects
Since you won’t have experience, a portfolio that lists personal projects is a great idea. This could give you a leg up in the interview process. For example, if you’re interested in mobile development and know Java, try creating an App. Other ideas could include creating a website or a game. Projects like this are a great thing to include in your portfolio. Contribute to open source projects if you can.
What’s great about programming side projects is that you can usually create or build something for free or very cheap. I recommend creating using GitHub to store your personal projects. Having side projects on your resume will show a company that you’re motivated and driven. All the more reason they have to hire you as an intern.
Spend Time Preparing For Interviews
If you want to get a computer science internship, you’re most likely going to need to do well during the interview. I recommend spending time reviewing algorithms prior to an interview. Google common interview questions for the company you’re applying for. Sometimes, people who have interviewed at a company will list some of the questions that they were asked on Glassdoor. In addition, Geeks For Geeks has a page with interview experiences from tons of different companies! This is a great way to prepare because you’ll have an idea of what’s possibly coming.
Make sure that you freshen up on your computer science fundamentals. Depending on the area that you are focused in, you should become familiar with everything you need to know for position you’re applying for. For example, if your area of focus is databases then make sure you’re well prepared on SQL. If you’re applying to an internship for Networking then review things like HTTP Protocol and Subnetting.
I also recommend doing mock interviews. See if a friend or family member can practice with you. I’ve found that going through my answers out loud helps me to prepare a lot. It’s not just about having an answer in mind, you also want to master the way that you deliver the answer. Practicing communication techniques by doing mock interviews is a great way to prepare. You’re going to be asked questions that aren’t technical too, so having answers for behavioral questions prepared is important.
Networking can go a long way when it comes to getting a computer science internship. If you don’t already have one, I recommend creating a LinkedIn. Reach out to alumni who graduated from your school in the same field. Also, you can reach out to other professionals in the same industry. Talking to people who have been in your shoes and actually gotten internships is a great way to learn tips so you can share the same success.
You can even ask family and friends to see if they can keep their ears open about jobs. If they hear about one or see a posting that sounds like a good match for you, ask them to pass your resume along.
Overall, networking is a great approach to landing internships and jobs in general. In fact, WayUp listed networking as one of the seven skills you should learn in college to land an internship at a tech company.
Common Questions Regarding Internships
Should You Go To An Interview For A Company You’re Not Interested In?
I recommend going to interviews regardless of whether you’re interested in the company. Why? You gain experience. Now is the best time to get interview experience. Once you’re working full-time as a developer, it will be much harder to get away to interview and you will need to be more selective.
You get better at interviewing with experience and time. The more practice you get the better you will become. I recommend taking advantage of going to as many interviews as possible. This will really help you in the future.
Should You Be Paid For A Computer Science Internship?
In today’s workforce you I think you should be paid for an internship. In fact, I haven’t come across any CS majors yet who were not paid for their internship. Even if you’re only being paid $15 or $20 an hour, you should still receive some sort of compensation. If you’re lucky enough to get an internship for a large company, you may even be paid more. Sometimes larger companies will even pay a salary. If you’re interested in salary negotiation tips, make sure to read this post for additional tips.
If worse comes to worse and you don’t find an internship that is willing to pay, I would still take it. Sure, it’s not the ideal situation. However, gaining the experience and a potential reference is better than nothing. Just for the record though, most internships in 2018 are paid.
Should You Ever Relocate For An Internship?
This really depends. If you have the opportunity to work for a large company over the summer, then sure why not relocate. However, I only recommend doing this if your financial situation allows you to do so, or if the company is willing to cover the cost. Most internships only last for a couple of months. It’s not the end of the world. You never know, you may even get a higher salary or rate based on the city you’re working in.
For example, I know someone who had an internship over the summer at Amazon. The particular Amazon location that they were working at was 2.5 hours away from their home town. Amazon was willing to pay for an apartment for them for the summer and covered all utilities. Not to mention, Amazon offered them the internship solely based off the phone interview. It’s one of the few companies I’ve heard of where you don’t need an in-person interview to be offered the position. In this situation, relocating for the internship was worth it.
Getting A Computer Science Internship Doesn’t Need To Be Hard
In the end, internships aren’t always necessary. However, you will have a much easier time getting a job if you’ve done one. They’re a great way to gain experience in your field, and usually get paid too! Don’t be discouraged about getting out and let it prevent you from gaining experience.
Once you’ve completed your internship, you probably will be offered a full-time job at the company once you graduate. That’s as long as you do a good job of course. Make sure to send your boss at the company a thank you letter after your internship ends. Let them know that you’re thankful for the opportunity and that you would be happy to work for them in the near future. Chances are, you’ll be offered a job.
If you follow some of the advice in this article, you should have no problem getting some traction and hopefully landing a computer science internship.