Scoring the Internship of Your Dreams
Donald Jennings, Informatics Student, talks about how to find an internship with a company.
There are many different opportunities to explore whilst studying Informatics such as volunteering, working in a student team such as Edinburgh University Formula Student (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?
The Application Process
Before looking at how we can stand out, we need to understand a standard application process. A very standard application for a technical internship is as follows:
- Submit your CV and Cover letter
- Initial screening – Likely covers some basic personality or coding questions
- Coding interview – A set of coding problems to solve
- Interview – A more traditional style interview where you are being asked personality questions and they want to get to know you more
- The Decision
The University of Edinburgh’s Careers service is an excellent starting resource on finding an internship, developing yourself professionally and getting feedback on your CV or interview skills.
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. Hackerrank and LeetCode are examples of such websites, linked below.
Another great resource is the Cracking the Coding Interview book with expert advice and practice on coding interviews.
Make sure you get a lot of practice 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 practice to have a website with links to your GitHub demonstrating your projects, so I recommend familiarising yourself with GitHub on the link below.
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! Look out for information about Hackatons from CompSoc – Edinburgh University’s technology society.
Blog post originally written by Donald Jennings, Informatics Communications Intern 2022.
Edited by Dimona Videnlieva, Informatics Communications Intern 2023.