re: I've Trained Programming Interns For 6+ Years, Ask Me Anything! VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

Thanks for AMA! (hope I'm not too late) I am a sophomore studying computer science and I present two questions:

  1. How competitive is it for prospective interns?

  2. What specifically do you look for in an intern?

Thank you for your time!

 

Hi Tyler,

It's hard for me to speak to internships overall in terms of competition for positions, but I do know that there are a limited number of spots in any given internship program.

The main thing I look for in an intern is someone I believe will make a good programmer. An internship is a major investment on the part of the employer, and we want to know that we'll get a return on that investment, both in the intern's participation in our own development efforts, and their likelihood of succeeding in the industry as a whole. (When you succeed, it looks good for us too.) Hiring for an internship is like the speculative investing of recruiting...potentially huge returns, but major risks too.

The main things I look for are:

  • Teachability,
  • Humility,
  • The ability to learn independently,
  • Honesty,
  • Communication skills,
  • Respect for others.
 

Thank you for the thoughtful reply!

As a follow-up,

Is a portfolio a must-have or will it allow one to place ahead of the pack?

Again, thank you for your time.

Portfolios are excellent! They definitely put you at the front of the pack.

Might depend on what we mean under portfolio.

  • University projects mostly don't count.
  • Github projects with a single commit named "First", without any documentation and comments neither.
  • Projects you contributed to very shallowly are on the edge.

I suggest including a portfolio if it is truly relevant. Otherwise it is just noise, or worse, generates false expectations.

I disagree with the first point. University projects might not count in a portfolio when applying for a regular development position, but they do most certainly count when applying to an internship.

It's all about reasonable expectations. Full time college students may not always have a bunch of personal projects. I've hired many interns whose portfolios contained only a selection of their best university assignments, and they turned out to be some of my best programmers. (And anyway, if an internship hiring manager is expecting a bunch of polished personal projects in a student's portfolio, the internship is not likely to have reasonable expectations about experience anyway.)

That said, interns, help us help you! Pin your best projects to the top of your GitHub profile. Include READMEs. Make it easy for us to find what you're proud of.

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