Namaste Folks 🙏 I'm Atibhi, a final semester student from India. I've done 7 internships in 5 years. A few months ago, I gave a talk on SWE internships. This blog post is based on my talk. I share whatever I've learnt over the past few years and a few things I wish I'd known sooner. In this post I'm going to cover the following :
- How to build your skills.
- How should a good resume look like?
- Applying to internships.
A caveat many students face is that they say they have nothing to put on their resume. Because of this, their resume does not get shortlisted for internships. As a consequence of no internships, they are unable to improve their resume. This thought process can become a vicious cycle and lead to demotivation. Side projects, interning with Professors and taking part in competitions are great ways of showing your passion and building your resume.
📝 Must Read: How to write a great resume for software engineers
My personal opinion is that a resume should be neat, single page and single-column. Keep a document where you jot down every single thing you think is worth mentioning. But do not list everything on your resume, list only relevant information on your resume. After making your resume, make sure to get it reviewed by a friend or on r/resumes.
The recruiting season for summer internships starts in July/August for big companies. For startups, recruiting begins in January/February. I would recommend applying early to be on the safer side. If you're planning to do an open-source internship like Google Summer of Code or Outreachy, start contributing to an organization of your choice by December.
Remember that you will not get replies from all the companies that you apply to. To maximize your chances, keep applying to as many companies as you can. During my third year of college, I applied to 200+ startups, got 6 interview chances and 3 offers.
angel. co is a great site for applying to startups. Careers page of various companies is another option. If you're applying to a startup, there is a high chance that you will get a response through the careers page. The chances are lower if you apply on the careers page of FAANG companies. A referral would be the way to go for large companies.
Asking for referrals is a great way to get noticed at companies. But, a lot of students do not know what is the correct way to ask or whom to ask. Asking the correct people matters a lot. Here's the order in which you should reach out to people.
- Friends/classmates who interned at that company.
- College alumni who work at the company you want to work at.
- Friends of Friends.
- Random People.
A good DM also goes a long way and can be a make or break decision when someone is considering referring you. Some common mistakes are sloppy DMs, just a "Hello!" or asking someone to refer you for a role you're not a fit for. Shown below is how I request referrals from complete strangers. 😅
(Figure 2. Asking for referrals. Created by Atibhi Agrawal on Canva.)
It is very important to keep track of your applications. This way you can send reminders to people and track your progress. Use an excel sheet to keep track and pin it to your bookmarks bar!
(Figure 3. How I tracked applications on excel.)
Interviewing is the most important part of any application.
- Research the company and role.
- Prepare an answer to "Tell me about yourself".
- Make sure you have your resume in front of yourself.
- Prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer in the end.
- Prepare for the technical aspect of the interview.
- Stay calm and be honest!
- Wait for updates 😶
I'm not going to deep dive into more details of interviewing. It is such a vast and important topic, it deserves a blog post of its own. Lots of wonderful people have already written blog posts. I'm going to list down some of my favourite ones in the resources section at the end.
Landing an internship is hard. You need a lot of patience and dedication. Don't be demotivated after facing rejections. The key is to learn from every rejection and improve. I wish you all the best in your journey!
- Acing Programming Interviews for Beginners
- Architecture and Systems Design Interviews
- A to Z guide to your campus placements
- Everything you need to prepare for your technical interview
- I interviewed at five top companies in Silicon Valley in five days, and luckily got five job offers
- How I Prepared for the Google Internship Interview
- How to Prepare for Your Next System Design Interview
- Part 1: Getting a call --- Resume Building and Applying (An amazing 4 part series)
- Tech Interview Handbook
- Tips for Computer Science Internship Interviews
- The One Year Plan For Cracking Coding Interviews