20-year-old Victor Zhang, a second year undergraduate at University College London, recently completed a back-end developer internship at HyperionDev. A highlight for him was the opportunity “to solve real world problems and bring tangible value to the company”. There are many benefits to securing an internship, but how does one go about landing such a position? We’ll look at strategies for securing your first internship as a developer, as well as the various advantages of internships for developers.
It’s all about the portfolio
Simply put, what you’ve built probably matters more than your grades or your school’s brand. “You need to show that you are the kind of programmer who is sensitive to the needs of the end user, who can make good product decisions and who has a track record of following through and finishing projects,” states Medium. In essence, it’s all about your portfolio.
Victor confirms this. He advises those looking for internships to be adventurous during their free time. “Try to work on building something that you like. If you don’t know where to start, sign up for hackathons, you will be able to learn a lot within (typically) 24 hours. Once you have an idea of what to do, start small and gradually increase the size and scope of your projects.” Besides hackathons, you could also try finding clubs and like-minded people who can be part of your community to build projects for your portfolio.
In order for your portfolio to be seen by prospective companies offering internships for developers, you need to showcase it. Here are a variety of strategies to document your portfolio so that it can been by recruiters:
GitHub is where developers store their projects and network with people who have similar interests. It’s a place to contribute to the development of a project, get advice and gain access to updates as they happen. One key reason why developers love GitHub is “much like using Microsoft Word or Google Drive – you can have a version history of your code so that it is not lost with every iteration.”
Tip: Once your projects are on GitHub, spend at least a few minutes per day working on code and pushing it to GitHub, which displays your longest streak spent coding. You want to make this as impressive as possible for potential recruiters.
Your website should showcase your skill set. It should be clean and simple, but, importantly, it needs to show your projects as well as your personality and passions.
For the website:
- Include at least three projects. Ensure that projects have the following: name of project, a photo and a brief description. If a potential employer clicks on the project, he or she should either be able to use the project or see the code on Github.
- Put your best projects first.
- If you’re including unfinished projects, state this as well as why the projects aren’t completed – for example, perhaps you worked on one of the projects during a hackathon.
Keep it a simple one-pager. Don’t use fancy fonts or strange styling. Remember, use the same sort of terms you see in job postings – it’s possible your resume will be graded by an algorithm and not even a human. Don’t pass yourself off as an expert if you’re only starting to learn a language. Be honest.
“I Learnt What I Don’t Know”
There are many advantages to an internship. “You get a real sense of being a full-time developer,” says Victor, “which allows you to assess if you enjoy building software to solve problems, and to see if being a software developer is the right path for you. I also learnt how software development works in the industry. This is different from course work or projects in an academic setting. Importantly, I learnt what I don’t know. Odd as this sounds, I now know what I should learn about and work on, and that’s invaluable.”
Now that you’ve got a portfolio and are showing it off, draw up a list of your top tech companies offering internships and start applying. An internship is an excellent way for new tech developers to level up. If you’re just getting started in coding, consider enrolling on a HyperionDev Software Engineering Bootcamp. You can study part-time and online. Once you’re finished, you’ll be ideally qualified to start looking for tech internships.