As a career software engineer and part-time computer science professor, students often ask me about internships and how to get one. Internships are extremely valuable. They offer good compensation, learning opportunities, real-world experience, and potential full-time work after graduation.
There's no magic formula to obtain an internship, but there are ways to increase your chances of getting one. Here are 10 tips for getting an internship:
- Resume. Create a high quality resume. This is one way that employers learn about you. There are numerous resume tips, examples, and templates online. Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
- LinkedIn. Create your LinkedIn profile. Use your resume for content. Update your Job seeking preferences to increase the chances of employers finding you.
- GitHub. Create a GitHub account. Learn how to use Git and GitHub to store your best programming work. Add a link to your GitHub account to your resume. Simply knowing how to use Git and GitHub will give you an edge.
- Coding interviews. You will likely face coding interviews during your search for internships. To pass these interviews, you must practice. LeetCode is one website where you can practice. The book Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is another good resource. Advent of Code is a fun way to practice coding. Any coding practice is good practice.
- Geographic preferences. Be open to opportunities in many geographic locations. Big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. have high concentrations of jobs. If you are willing to move to find an internship, you will increase your chances of finding a match.
- Networking. Talk to your friends, family, fellow students, teachers, and alumni. You may already know someone who can connect you with an internship opportunity. It is a powerful gesture when someone you know refers you for an internship.
- Career fairs. Attend career fairs and talk directly to employers. Some universities hold separate internship fairs too. This is a great way to meet face-to-face with employers and make an immediate impression.
- Consider all companies. Don't just look at the FAANG companies. Look at all companies that offer interesting and relevant internships. Some of these companies may be a better fit for you, and they may surprise you with their offerings. Even if you have no interest in a company, interviewing will provide valuable experience and practice.
- Code as a hobby. Start a personal coding project that is interesting and fun. When you code as a hobby, learning is effortless. It also provides additional talking points for an interview. People who love to code often exhibit the enthusiasm and energy that employers look for.
- Make them want to work with you. Grades are obviously important. But probably equally important is your personality. Be confident, but humble. Be eager to learn, energetic, and curious. Be a team player. They may not say it, but they are thinking, "do I want to work with this person every day?" Convince them that they do.
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