Scoring the Internship of your dreams
There are many different opportunities to explore whilst studying Informatics such as volunteering, working in a student team such as EUFS, developing side projects, and start-ups. But one of the main focal points of a lot of Informatics student career is getting an internship.
An internship is a work placement at a company usually last between 3-12 months. Generally, at the start of the internship you are briefed on the project that you will be developing and given a lot of freebies. However, software internships are incredibly competitive as students across the country will be competing for the same position. So how do you stand out from the crowd and score a place as an intern at the tech company of your dreams. Before looking at how we can stand out, we need to understand a standard application process
The Application Process
A very standard application for a technical internship is as follows
- Submit your CV and Cover letter with your application
- Initial screening – This will likely cover some basic personality questions or coding questions
- Coding interview – A set of coding problems to solve. Make sure you know your data structures well and practise on websites such as Hackerrank and LeetCode
- Interview – This will be a more traditional style interview where you are being asked personality questions and they want to get to know you more.
- The Decision
So now that we know what a standard application process is like, let’s look at how to put forward the best application you can.
Succeed in your studies
This may sound obvious, but in order to beat other students you will need to perform well in your studies to gain a deep understanding. Particularly focus on understanding any course on Algorithms and Data Structures as well as Software Engineering and Professional Practises. Luckily there are courses in 2nd year which cover these exact topics
Practise mock interviews and coding questions
There are a ton of websites out there where you can practise coding interview questions – some paid and some free. Make sure you get a lot of practises answering coding interview questions as they will deeply test your understanding of data structures and provide feedback.
Plus, some of the questions on there might come up on your actual interview 😆
Build a portfolio of projects
To help demonstrate your software engineering ability and get you through to the coding interview stage, a lot of students develop a portfolio of projects and send them off with their application. It is quite standard practise to have a website with links to your GitHub demonstrating your projects.
Try developing something you are interested and passionate about as a project. This way it’ll be a fun project and when you come to talking about it in an interview, they will sense your passion.
Attend hackathons and events
A really good way of networking with industry and developing your portfolio is by attending hackathons. Hackathons that are hosted by companies are often used as a recruiting tool to scout talented students for internships. They’re also really fun and social and quite often come with freebies!!
Here are some useful links and resources to get you started on applying for interviews
- University of Edinburgh Career’s Service – you can find a bunch of useful resources on professional development as well as CV Feedback and mock interviews
- Hackerrank – website with practise coding interview questions and an online code editor to answer them with
- Leetcode – an alternative to hackerrank
- CompSoc – on the CompSoc discord there is an entire channel dedicated to careers!
- Cracking the Coding Interview Book – amazing book containing expert advice and practise on coding interviews