Be prepared for the interview.
Doing a bit of research on a company before an interview goes a long way toward your success. Start with the Company Rating Questionnaire, which is available via http://www.companyratings.com/. This will help you determine:
- What exactly the company does
- The size and location of the company
- Who works there (managers and staff)
- Any notable “success stories” or major events in its history
It’s also good to check out what other companies are getting up to—for example, that local tech accelerator might be hiring for an internship come next summer, so it’d be worth checking to see if they have openings as well.
There are a lot of ways to network, and the key is to get out there. This means talking to people in your classes (especially upperclassmen, as they may have helpful advice or know about internship opportunities). It also means talking to people in your social circles (maybe you have a friend who’s interned at an awesome company), and people in your professional circles (such as coworkers or professors). You can talk to anyone who might offer you insight into getting an internship, from friends of friends at events and conferences, to small-time companies with great reputations. If you’re still struggling with finding the right organization for you, hackathons are a great way to network and get involved with different projects! Just make sure that whoever you’re talking to seems open and willing—don’t force anything on them.
Apply to relevant internships and jobs.
You should apply to job and internship postings that you are the most qualified for, or those in which you can demonstrate your qualifications the most clearly. Make sure that your resume, cover letter, and any other written materials are free of errors. You should also make sure that you submit everything that is asked for in the application checklist.
Finally, it’s important to apply for multiple internships/jobs at once. There’s no guarantee that you will get an offer from any one company, so increasing your chances by applying to more companies is a good idea!
Follow up after applying.
Even if you don’t get it, you can take your experience and turn it into a new opportunity. Here are some things to keep in mind while you wait:
- Don’t feel bad if you don’t hear back. Just because they didn’t respond doesn’t mean they didn’t like your application or interview. They may be busy, or there may be a lot of applicants. It’s important not to obsess over why they didn’t get back to you.
- Don’t feel bad if you are rejected. The internship market is competitive, and sometimes the employer will simply choose someone else for the position. You should never feel discouraged by rejection—rather, use it as motivation to apply for more internships and continue growing as a programmer!
- Don’t lose confidence in yourself as an engineer just because an interview went poorly or because you were rejected from an internship. It takes time to learn how to do interviews well and improve your programming skills, so keep practicing both!
Keep looking if you don’t get a response right away.
If the first time you apply for an internship doesn’t work out, don’t take it personally. Just like with any job search, it’s hard to know what a company is looking for in their candidates. Don’t stop applying and interviewing while you’re waiting to hear back from other companies, and get feedback from previous applications if you can. The more interviews you do, the better prepared you’ll be for future ones and the less likely it is that a rejection will get you down.
You should find an internship through networking and applying to as many as possible!
If you want to land your dream internship, start with a list of companies you want to work for. Then, make another list of people you know who can help you get there.
Reach out to people on your list and ask for introductions to anyone who could help you get a foot in the door at those companies. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! They won’t offer unless you do.
Build relationships with the people in your network that can help open doors for you. Ask them what they look for when they hire interns and let them know that while you don’t have experience in their industry, if they give you a chance, they won’t regret it!
Keep applying until something works out! It’s an exciting challenge and reality check all rolled into one.