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Jasterix
Jasterix

Posted on

How to get the most from an internship

This is a different typeof blog post than I usually write. What started off as a quick reply to a question on Slack turned into a full article.

Whether you internship is 3 months, 10 weeks or you're just shadowing someone for a day, it's important to approach every experience with clear expectations. I always try to go in with a plan and an ask for the end of the internship. My usual goals are:

  1. Networking. Understand who you should be introduced to, their goals and how to make a positive impression on them. For example, what teams are growing? In what capacity? You might meet a senior developer who's looking to build a new team, but what is their timeline? It's not enough to know a team is growing, but also if and how you can have a positive impact. Maybe the new team is only looking for experienced engineers.

    Ask a million informed questions. To me networking is meeting people in dev, in HR, admins and trying to develop a genuine connection with willing to talk to you. 
    
  2. Learning. Internships are a great introduction into that field and company. It's a low stress way to get experience because interns are not expected to know anything about anything. There's no pressure to wow people because the primary goal of an internship is to learn. There might be companies taking advantage of students for free or cheap labor, but they are the exception.

    So I always try to pinpoint the biggest and best takeaways for the program. It might be a better understanding of what they’re looking for in terms of new hires, getting more comfortable with their stack. Some interns want real project experience that they can highlight on their resume. No matter what, there's always something to learn

  3. Follow up. For me, followup isn't just follow through, but also understanding what that that followup should look like. If you can, try to figure out what the next step would be before you leave the internship. Confirm how to follow up, who to follow up with and if possible, set a timeline for it.

Ideally, you will leave the internship with several people in the company willing to vouch for you with the hiring manager or the team.

Top comments (3)

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ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

Volunteer for everything. Even the stuff that sounds like it is going to suck or isn't relevant to your career goals. At my internship, I got a chance to work in the electronics lab a lot. There wasn't any coding, but I learned how to solder correctly and debugging microcontrollers taught me everything I know about troubleshooting complex systems. Had I tried to get out of those duties, I never would have discovered how much I enjoy low-level programming.

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jasterix profile image
Jasterix Author

That's so true. How long did it take for you to get comfortable with low-level languages?

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ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

It's a process that continues even to today. In University, the professors did an awful job teaching C and didn't really leave us with any knowledge of how to use it in the real world. C itself is quite simple, it just requires a ton of error checking and handling anytime you do something.

I struggled with low level concepts. I ended up dropping out of school and never even took a physics course so microcontrollers were very hard to grasp conceptually. The data sheets for mcus are quite dense and not light reading material, so it took me a while to understand the initialization process and the configuration required to activate different forms of I/O.

With a mentor and proper schooling, I imagine it is a much easier process.

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