How to get into an internship/vacation program: Advice and Tips for Penultimate Computer Science Students
Gaining work experience via company placements, vacation programs or internships can be invaluable to penultimate computer science graduates. A good internship or vacation program furthers your training and development in the area of computer science and provides workshops and mentoring that allows you to gain real world, practical skills. Undertaking an internship or vacation program in your penultimate year also exposes you to the corporate workplace before your graduate, allowing you to form a professional network you may have to leverage later. For some, it may secure you a long-term position at the company even after your placement finishes.
Although the importance of internships in developing your computer science career varies depending on your preferred field, and hence may not be absolutely necessary in landing a job, it is undeniably true that a good internship is invaluable to getting a head start in your career within the computer science industry.
Finding an Internship
There are different types of internship programs; whilst some are more targeted towards a specific area, others are generalist and provide you with a rotational experience between different fields. The time frame of these internships can also vary, ranging between 12 weeks (vacation work) all the way to 12 months (full –time internship) and students should choose what suits their schedule and degree.
When finding a internship or joining a summer program, you should:
Search for industry leadersThe advantage of interning at a big firm is that they are well structured and ensure maximum impact and exposure. Not only do they provide quality guidance and mentoring and use cutting-edge technology and software, the internships provided can be modelled to cater to your needs if you demonstrate enough commitment and initiative.
Graduate jobs and Internship FairsCareers fairs are an effective way to meet your potential employers and gain a general feel for the values and culture of the company you have in mind. Creating a strong impression at a career fair may afford you that extra recognition, which can prove to be useful in being hired as an intern later on.
Approaching organisationsAlthough there is strong value of interning at a big firm, penultimate graduates should not neglect applying for smaller companies. Most companies seeking interns advertise their programs, but many do not. Students should approach organisations in order to increase their chances of landing an internship. For smaller firms especially, there may be no formal programs, but many are willing to offer vacation work or internships if you express your interest.
Other SourcesInternship providers reach out to universities to find potential interns. Check the careers section on your own university website and sign up for the mailing list.
Computer science summer internships are competitive, so doing your research and applying well in advance is something that is encouraged. Internship programs begin accepting applications as early as April; so penultimate computer science students should be on the lookout early on.
How to get into an internship/vacation program
Undertaking a bachelor’s degree in computer science is the basic criteria for entry into a computer science internship. However, students from other disciplines with demonstrated interest in majoring in computer science, software engineering or a related major are also eligible depending on the nature of the internship. Hence, students must make sure to check their specific requirements and your eligibility before beginning their application process.
Key things that can make your application stand out:
A good academic record is indicative of technical competency so bigger firms hire interns based on merit and require at least a credit-average before anything else is considered.
Whilst some work experience may be desirable, companies also look for transferrable skills that can be attained from involvement in clubs and societies, sport, volunteer work, casual/part-time work, course projects and other activities you engage in. Desirable qualities and characteristics that candidates should be able to demonstrate through your extra-curricular activities include:
- Strong Team skills:
This includes cooperating well with others and respect and value differing opinions, working together to achieve shared goals, supporting others, and maintaining relationships in order to enhance the effectiveness of the team.
- Good Communication:
Candidates must demonstrate their ability to communicate clearly both in written and spoken form. This includes listening attentively and asking questions to ensure that mutual understanding is achieved. At the same time, it also means communicating in a way that is appropriate to the demands of the situation.
The ability to cope with competing deadlines and the changing demands of the company, as well as the ability to remain composed during periods of uncertainty and stress.
- Motivation and passion for the Company:
This includes demonstrated knowledge of recent trends in the industry, knowing about what the company does, their values and the industry in which they operate. Also, the individual must show their enthusiasm in learning about new things, even if they go beyond the scope of your assignment, commit to accomplishing challenging goals.
What happens after I apply?
Each company has there own specific and detailed application system. However, especially in the case of large firms, applying online is only the start of the application process. Following on from that, there may be a series of aptitude tests, and multiple interviews including phone interviews and panel interviews.
Computer Science Internships/Vacation Programs:
To find out more about the computer science/software engineering internships or vacation programs that are available click here.