DEV Community

yusufcodes
yusufcodes

Posted on • Updated on

How I Got an Internship in Software Development as a Computer Science student🎓

Introduction👋
I’d like to share the different stages involved in finding an internship/placement as a Computer Science student. I’m going to keep this information as brief as possible, but if you have any questions feel free to send me a message (contact details at the end of the article)!

I applied for my internship during the second year of my degree (2018–19), and you should start applying as soon as your second year begins. Internships vary in how long they are from a few weeks to an entire year. The length of your internship is totally up to you. If you go for a year-long placement however, you will need to take that year out of your degree, increasing the length of your studies by 1 year.

I study in the UK so things may be a little different where you are from — but I imagine most things are the same.

Stages Involved in Finding an Internship🔎

Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) / Resume
This should be a 1–2 page collation of all of your experiences to date. This should include academic attainment and any work experience you may have.

Search for jobs
You should be searching for jobs including ‘placement’ or ‘internship’, for example ‘Software Developer Placement’, and so on. Places that I used to search were: my university’s job posting site, GlassDoor, RateMyPlacement and Indeed. I’m sure there are other sites that also advertise these vacancies. If you know of a company you would like to work for, you could check their website directly and see if they are running any internships.

Write a Cover Letter (if required)
Most vacancies will require you to submit both a CV and a cover letter. A cover letter is a short written piece where you explain why you are interested in the internship, and affirm that you are a suitable candidate. Employers usually read these and then go through your CV, so making sure this is written well is important!

Keep track of all the places that you’ve applied to
I made a basic spreadsheet and detailed the following things:

Company name
Date applied
Vacancy details: name, deadline for applications, job description

This is really helpful when you’ve applied to a few companies, because it means you won’t forget where you’ve applied to. You can come back to this spreadsheet as and when you receive invitations to interviews (or sadly, any rejections) to keep on top of all of the companies that you have applied for.

Set up a Personal Portfolio or a GitHub account
This gives a company a way to see the types of things you’ve worked on, which could increase your chances of getting a job if they like what they see.

I personally have a couple of my university work posted on my GitHub. You don’t need to have dozens of projects or a super pretty website — just some way to show an employer what you have done. Remember, these employers aren’t looking for a perfect coder, just someone with a genuine passion to excel in the field. Showcasing your work is a great way to highlight this.

Prepare for the interviews
Great — you’ve been invited to an interview with a company — now what?

I was left feeling overwhelmed when I received offers from places that I applied for — mainly due to my lack of self-confidence. If you end up feeling like this, you’re not alone!

Preparing for interviews is a very broad topic which, if you searched online, you’d find many different resources. I’ll give a little bit of information on what I personally did, but I recommend you also do your own research into interview preparation.

Research the company
Company research is so important. You’re going to be asked to show your interest in the role you applied for and the company itself, so you’ll need to do a bit of research on them. Find out exactly who they are, what they do, and things that you find interesting about them. This way, you’ll be able to demonstrate you passion and enthusiasm for both the role and the company.

Brush up on any technical skills
For example, if they’re advertising a position working with JavaScript, make sure you know the basics. Most companies will tell you whether or not you will be undertaking a technical interview, in which case it should indicate what you may need to prepare for it.

A great way to brush up on your general programming skills is by using websites like HackerRank or LeetCode. Both websites are similar on the basis that they provide you with programming exercises to complete, of varying levels of difficulty, in most programming languages.

Algorithms and Data Structures is an important topic to cover as well. I personally went over my university unit which covered all of this information, but if you haven’t studied the topic yet, there are many resources online to read up about it!

Know what you’ve written on your CV and Cover Letter
The employers will most likely have the CV and Cover Letter right in front of them, so make sure you know exactly what you’ve put on there. It will make it easy for you to explain the different areas of your academic experience and other work experience you may have.

Dress appropriately
Dressing in smart or smart-casual attire is the best idea. I’d personally stay clear of wearing casual clothes to an interview — show the company that you care by taking care of your appearance!

My Tips
• Make use of your university’s careers services.
• Make sure your CV and Cover Letter are perfect — no errors in spelling or grammar.
• Tailor your CV and Cover Letter to each vacancy — generic applications aren’t generally taken seriously and decreases your chances of being invited to an interview.
• Attend networking events — your university may host employability events where employers come in to talk about what they do and the jobs they have to offer. These can help you massively during the application process if an employer remembers you!
Don’t give up! — Placements and internships are very competitive, so rejections are totally normal. Don’t let it knock your confidence and continue to search for and apply to more internships.

Conclusion
I hope this brief post is useful to you if you’re looking for a student placement / internship. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with my life as a student, and things I get up to! You can also contact me through these platforms if you have any questions.

If you found this post useful, I’d greatly appreciate you sharing it on your own platforms to benefit other people! Thanks for reading😊👋

Discussion (14)

Collapse
codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited on

Good tips. I'd add one more.

If the "position" promises a job at another company after you complete their training, and you don't have to pay for anything unless you don't complete the program and/or stick with the job they place you in, RUN. While technically legal, these schemes are highly predatory. From what I know, the training is sub-par, and you will be paid far below market value once you get a job; a huge portion of your salary is actually going to the "placement company". And, if you don't complete your contract, you're out thousands of dollars.

And yes, I could give you the names of two such companies right now that use this predatory scheme. These are effectively white-collar scams.

NO legitimate internship, training program, bootcamp, college, or entry level position will demand repayment because you quit. A major purpose of any internship or entry level position is for you to learn what the job is like, and if you're a good fit. And any legitimate training program or educational institution is either completely free in all cases, or requires payment of tuition whether you finish or not.

Collapse
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

Thanks for the addition of this tip Jason! These types of placements don't seem to be common here in the UK, but clearly is something to watch out for.

Collapse
munirhassaan profile image
Hassaan Munir

Assalamualaikum
You said that we should start applying for internships with the start of second year. What can we possibly learn and become so good at it in just one year? Please tell me that what you did in your first year. Did you do something other than your degree courses?

Collapse
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

Walaikumassalam Hassaan,

Aside from my university studies, I tried to pursue other interests. I did a little bit of JavaScript work, and brushed up on HTML + CSS.

But honestly I wasn't doing a load of extra stuff. University and my job alone kept me very busy.

Remember that during the second year you'll be gaining new skills which you can also display to the employers. You don't need to be a master at everything - just work with what you know😊.

Collapse
munirhassaan profile image
Hassaan Munir

Thank you for your response! The last thing I want to know is that if I apply for an internship, let's say front-end web development or .Net desktop application development (that's what I can do a little bit), what will the employer be expecting from me as a second year university student?
Thanks in advance!

Thread Thread
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

No problem!

The thing I've observed about employers taking on students is looking for genuine passion for the job, and the ability to display that you are a good fit for the job.

To address genuine passion, you could spend a little time outside of university reading a book or working through a course.

To show you are a good fit for the job, read the job specification carefully and pick out the skills they are looking for. A common one could be as simple as "working in a team" - you can bring any experience (even non-development) to back this up! For example, I talked about my part-time job in retail in detail, where I could demonstrate soft skills such as team working.

Good luck with the applications Hassaan!

Thread Thread
munirhassaan profile image
Hassaan Munir

Jazakallah Brother.

Collapse
rosejcday profile image
Rose Day

My only note on the resume is try to keep it one page, if possible and make a longer, more detailed LinkedIn or personal webpage. I have talked to many recuirters and interviewers who say they don’t want to look at more than one page and who recommend keeping it short. I know tailor my resume to one page and keep it specific to what I am applying for and then have a very detailed, lengthy LinkedIn that someone can explore more if they so desire. Just my experience. 😄

Collapse
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

Hey, thanks for reading and leaving your feedback☺️.

I was tempted to write just 1 page however, mine spanned 1 page and a half, meaning some stuff did end up on the 'back' of my CV. This didn't stop me from receiving offers and such.

I think for students who may lack a wealth of experience, it's not the worst thing in the world to detail what they do have experience in, such as through their academia.

However you are totally correct in generally keeping it to 1 page length! I know recruiters receive a ton of these things regularly. I just didn't want to explicitly state it like that when mine wasn't exactly 1 page😂.

Again, thank you for your feedback on your experience Rose! 😊🙏🏽

Collapse
rosejcday profile image
Rose Day

You’re welcome! I have had some recruiters and other be mean about resumes being over 1 page. I can understand why they don’t want to have to read over 1 or 2 pages but sometimes it is hard to put everything down to 1 page in a neat fashion with enough detail. I started using Latex to make my resumes so I have more fine tuned control over specific elements. 😄

Collapse
around25team profile image
Around25

"Company research is so important. You’re going to be asked to show your interest in the role you applied for and the company itself, so you’ll need to do a bit of research on them."
As a company investing a considerable amount of time in internship recruitment, yup, this definitely makes the difference. Not because we like to hear stuff about ourselves, but because it can spark conversations about goals, career, deeper motivations.
Something else you can take into consideration is learning GitHub and open-sourcing ANY project you have this way. GitHub is where you can showcase the kind of code you write and if it has potential. That's a huge differentiator at an interview (not just an internship one).

Collapse
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

Really great insight into what companies are looking for. Thank you for sharing!

Collapse
rmp_enterprise profile image
RMP Enterprise

Thanks for mentioning RateMyPlacement.co.uk as a resource for searching for internships and year-long placements for computer science students :) Any chance you could link the mention of us to the website so that other students can find work experience? Thanks!

Collapse
yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes Author

Just updated it now to link directly to the site. 😊