Tech internships have been the starting point for many industry leaders. Learn how to land the perfect internship and set yourself on the path to a successful career in technology.
Elon Musk did one at the Bank of Nova Scotia. Steve Jobs did his at Hewlett-Packard. As for Bill Gates, he spent a summer at the U.S. House of Representatives.
What are we talking about? Internships, of course. With research showing that around 70 percent of companies offer interns a full-time job, there’s no better way to gain valuable experience, expand your network and get a feel for different industries and organizational cultures. Read on for practical tips on how to jumpstart your technology career.
do your homework
There are countless tech internships out there, so start by narrowing down your search based on your studies, skills, interests and career goals. Use resources like college career centers and Randstad’s in-demand jobs section to discover what’s new and exciting in the sector. Fields with plenty of internship opportunities include:
You'll gain hands-on experience in programming, testing and debugging and work with various languages and frameworks.
data science and analytics
Interning in this field allows you to learn essential data manipulation and visualization techniques, as well as predictive modeling and machine learning.
As cyber threats continue to grow, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is higher than ever. Interning in cybersecurity provides exposure to various security tools, network defense strategies and risk management practices.
user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design
Tech companies prioritize user satisfaction, and UX/UI designers play a critical role in shaping the user experience. As an intern, you’ll develop design skills, create wireframes and prototypes and learn about user research and testing.
prepare your application materials
These usually include your resume, portfolio and sometimes a coding challenge. Tailor your resume to each opportunity, highlighting relevant skills and achievements. Your portfolio can include anything demonstrating your abilities and creativity, such as websites, apps, games or data analysis projects. If you’re required to complete a coding challenge, familiarize yourself with the languages and frameworks typically used in your desired role and work on problems from coding challenge websites to sharpen your skills.
As in most industries: who you know in the tech world can be just as important as what you know. Insights, feedback and recommendations from experienced professionals can give you an edge when looking for an internship or entry-level position. You may even get referrals for posts that haven’t been publicly advertised.
Participate in online communities like Reddit, Hacker News, Stack Overflow and Discord to build relationships in your field. Offline, you can network at hackathons, meetups, workshops or tech-focused career fairs.
Remember: most senior professionals enjoy helping rookies, but they’re also swamped. Before they commit to helping you, they'll want to evaluate your elevator pitch — a crisp, 30-second summary of what you have to offer and where you see yourself in two years. Crafting a memorable elevator pitch takes effort, but it's time well spent.
hone your interview skills
When your dream internship comes up, you must be ready to ace the interview. Prepare by researching the company and its products or services, reviewing your resume and portfolio, rehearsing answers to common interview questions and formulating some questions to ask the interviewer. Dress appropriately for the company culture, arrive on time (or log in early), be confident (but not cocky) and be honest (but not self-deprecating). Always thank the interviewers for their time, and ask for feedback if things don’t go your way.
Finding the right internship can be time-consuming and frustrating, but don't give up. Keep refining your applications, expanding your networks and polishing your elevator pitch. Most importantly, make sure your passion for technology shines through every time you apply for a position or make a new connection. If you're convinced of your talent and unafraid to show it, it's only a matter of time before an employer takes a chance on you.