How to Get a Computer Science Internship (And Why You’ll Probably Need One)

How to Get a Computer Science Internship
How to Get a Computer Science Internship

How to Get a Computer Science Internship (And Why You’ll Probably Need One)
How do I become a computer science intern? Computer science students will commonly face this question when they graduate, regardless of their GPA or extra-curricular activities. What percent of CS students get an internship? Are internships necessary for computer science? What GPA do you need for computer science internships? These are all questions that would-be CS interns have asked in the past. This blog post will help you learn how to get an internship as well as answer these questions and more!

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How to Get a Computer Science Internship

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

1: The top 10 companies for hiring interns

Are you interested in working for one of these companies? Check out their careers pages: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Amazon Web Services(AWS), Apple, and Twitter. Some of these companies might offer an internships program specific to computer science students.

For example, Google’s Summer of Code program brings thousands of college students together with open source organizations around the world each year; Google also hires more than 300 students every year as part-time employees while they’re still in school.


Microsoft hosts several internship programs that bring college students into its Redmond headquarters; if you don’t see your university on its list but want to work there anyway (yes please!), check back often as new opportunities are posted all of the time—Microsoft hires hundreds of interns every year!

If your university doesn’t have an internship program with one of these companies, reach out anyway! Find someone who has already had success doing so and find out what you need to do to get involved.

Also, don’t wait until you’re almost done with school—get started now. The best way to ensure you get into one of these companies is to start making contact now before you graduate and fall under their applicant tracking system. More and more big tech companies are hiring interns every year—let’s see how many on this list we can apply for during our summers off!

2: Are internships necessary? Yes, but they aren’t required by all companies. Some computer science majors might not need an internship at all; however, I highly recommend getting some experience in the industry as soon as possible after graduation.

It’s important to remember that computer science isn’t just about learning new skills; it’s also about applying those skills in real-world scenarios and learning from your mistakes along the way. Getting hands-on experience as soon as possible will help you develop critical problem-solving skills that will be useful no matter where life takes you after graduation.

3: What GPA do I need for computer science internships? Your GPA isn’t as important as you might think—if you’re interested in an internship, make sure your resume is up-to-date and that you have good references. If you’re applying to big tech companies, there’s no reason why your GPA should be below 3.0; however, if your major is something like Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, it’s not uncommon for students with GPAs below 3.0 to get accepted into internships at large companies. The most important thing is that you stand out from other applicants!

see how to choose a college that’s right for you

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

2: Hiring managers share their advice

Many companies consider internships an important indicator of how well you can do with less supervision. So if you want a job in tech, you’ll probably want an internship. The easiest way to get one? Ask.

But don’t just wait for your first-semester senior year to roll around and submit your resume like everyone else; be proactive! Companies are usually looking for interns in their sophomore and junior years, so it’s better to get on their radar sooner rather than later.

And don’t forget about smaller companies—as non-profits, startups, and other small businesses start making up more of our economic landscape every day, they need interns too! Talk to professors who are working at or know someone who works at companies where you’d like an internship.

Talk to professors who are working at or know someone who works at companies where you’d like an internship. Attend and network at industry conferences. Create side projects that showcase your skills, such as Hackathon projects.

Offer free advice on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn when it’s relevant to their work. Be creative! If you have professional experience already, even better; you can often provide more practical advice and insight than students who have only interned before.

Remember, companies want students that are interested in what they do! The more enthusiasm you display in your communications with them, whether through email or face-to-face interviews, the more likely it is that they’ll want to hire you for your interview.

And remember, most internship opportunities are not found on college career pages! Find companies you’re interested in working for through referrals and networking or do your own research. Use company websites and social media profiles to stay up-to-date on openings.

Think about jobs that would be relevant to your career goals but aren’t necessarily computer science-specific; while they may not be exactly what you want, these positions can give you insight into larger industry trends and strategies that may come in handy once you actually get into tech.

Most importantly: ask for help when you need it! It’s okay if one approach doesn’t work out—that’s how we learn what does work best for us!

If you’re really interested in computer science, try getting an internship before or during your freshman year. Having an internship early on gives you more time to learn, ask questions and improve your resume! It also doesn’t hurt that employers will be more impressed with your immediate experience than they would be otherwise.

And if you already have one under your belt, applying for internships mid-career is easier as long as you’ve kept up with industry developments and stayed active in relevant communities; many hiring managers will want to see real interest in what they do before offering full-time positions.

On top of that, student portfolios are becoming increasingly important for computer science professionals. Students can create sample code repositories, get involved in open source projects, or even start their own side projects that demonstrate practical experience;

they’re all things that hiring managers love seeing! It’s never too early to start on your portfolio, so make sure you spend time over summer or winter break polishing up any existing material and working on anything else you’d like to add. Sometimes what doesn’t work out as an internship ends up being an opportunity for something better later on down the line!

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

See The 22 Best Paying Jobs in Technology

3: It’s better to be overqualified than underqualified

Before you ask your professor for an internship recommendation, make sure you’re overqualified. Having a 3.9 GPA in computer science is great… if you want to get hired for entry-level positions. I’d recommend being over a 3.8 or 3.9 to show that you can handle more responsibility than some of your peers who don’t have as high grades.

This will help differentiate yourself when applying for internships and may also get you closer consideration from employers since it shows that you’re not only good at what they need but also capable of taking on additional projects as needed. Before accepting any position, always make sure there’s room for growth within that company/role!

On top of applying for internships early, it’s best to pursue opportunities early and make sure you keep your resume updated! Your resume is your first impression on potential employers, so you want to make sure it doesn’t have any errors or spelling mistakes. Employers may not be able to see past that during an initial evaluation process.

Also, if your resume needs some more work before it’s appropriate for recruiting, don’t be afraid to use some templates online. Search CS resume into Google, and you should get some good results from Reddit and free sites like CareerFoundry. Just make sure that these sites aren’t spammy or might leave viruses on your computer before using them!

Finally, start looking for internships early and be persistent! If you’re able to put in some time during your sophomore or junior year of college, you may have an advantage over someone who applies senior year. However, that’s not always true: sometimes employers value candidates who can bring fresh ideas and experience to their teams.

The ideal situation is to apply right before your senior year of college so that you have time during those summer months and academic semesters to work on your internship project. That’s why it’s best not just to apply for internships early – it’s also important to make sure that your resume is up-to-date and adjusted for each potential employer!

At first, computer science internship applications can seem difficult, but if you have time to apply for internships earlier than most of your peers and constantly update your resume and LinkedIn profile, then you’re bound to get your name out there! Employers will remember students who stand out from their competition by taking initiative.

Always be persistent, never settle on an offer that doesn’t feel right, and take risks in your career pursuits. Making mistakes is okay as long as you learn from them! If you want more information about how I approached looking for internships in college and now early in my career, feel free to check out my talk at PyCon 2015! Happy hunting!

  • Stephanie Hurlburt is an intern at Indeed in New York City. She has been programming since middle school and her work has spanned from engineering webpages at PBS Kids, studying natural language processing with computers, to working on large-scale e-commerce platforms. In addition to being interested in software development and information retrieval, she also studies creative writing and various performance art forms, including improv comedy and musical theater. Her most notable projects are xcrawlr and Persephone, which have both won awards for their contributions to amateur theatrical events. To learn more about her writing, follow her @onezumi.

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

4: Skip the resume, make a portfolio

When you think about your first job, you probably start thinking about resumes and cover letters. But if you’re interested in working in technology, perhaps a better approach is to think about creating a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to program.

A resume tells recruiters what skills you have; but with a portfolio, they can see your code directly. Make it easy for them! Keep it online and make sure that each project includes instructions on how they can run it themselves.

And as an added bonus, by making an online demo of your programming skills, companies will be more inclined to bring you in for an interview – they can tell instantly whether or not you’re worth talking with because they get a sneak peek at exactly what kind of work experience you have.

If you’re just graduating and looking for an internship, there’s no better time to create a portfolio than right now. As you complete projects for your classes, keep all of your code in version control and include instructions on how anyone can build it from scratch.

That way when companies look at your resume they can instantly see what kind of programming skills you have and whether or not they need to talk with you in person. If you already have an internship lined up, start building some programming projects now! Before you know it, graduation will be here and it will be time to move on to your first real job as a software engineer.

Building a portfolio of programming projects is essential if you want to break into technology. Even if you’re planning on going into computer science, it will likely take at least two years before you graduate and start making enough money for your salary to be relevant for companies.

Don’t leave things up in limbo: set yourself up with an online presence that makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers from companies all over Silicon Valley to see exactly what kind of work experience you have.

Without being given a shot, how do they know whether or not you’re worth talking with? This isn’t just important if you want tech jobs – getting any job at all requires proving your skills with real programming projects.

Just like having a printed resume, it’s important to have an online presence even if you already have an internship lined up. If that internship ends up not working out or you decide that you want to try other companies, having an online portfolio is what will get you in the door at tech companies.

Technology jobs are notorious for looking at candidates with tons of different skillsets – it’s almost never just one person who gets hired. Even if they don’t need your specific set of skills right now, there’s always room for someone else down the line who is even better than you are.

Over my time working in technology, I’ve seen how important it is for new programmers to have online programming portfolios. Without one, it’s difficult for recruiters and hiring managers at Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google to get a sense of what you can do with your code.

Not only that, but having an online presence makes it easier than ever before for companies to quickly see exactly which candidates are worth talking with in person – no need to waste any time bringing someone in when they don’t have any skills or relevant work experience! Because of all these reasons, building an online portfolio should be at top of your list right now if you’re just starting out as a programmer.

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

5: Put your best foot forward with online profiles

It goes without saying that employers will be looking for online profiles and even Google your name before deciding if you’re a fit for an interview. The first step is filling out your LinkedIn profile completely so you can display all of your achievements, jobs, skills, and education on your resume.

Once that’s complete, it’s time to get active on social media! Use sites like GitHub or Stack Overflow to show off code samples. Showcasing progress through Kaggle competitions can also help boost those resume claims of experience with advanced analytics!

While online profiles and social media can be an excellent supplement to your resume, it’s always wise to keep some old-fashioned paper copies in your back pocket. Even if you know recruiters, employers or graduate admissions officers search online for candidate references, still, keep hard copies of all important documents handy – from high school transcripts and previous internships you’ve worked on to personal project work samples.

An important tip for crafting your online profile: Don’t just go for keywords! Employers can see right through that. Describe yourself in a real way and use keywords sparingly, as support. Be sure to avoid any sections labeled Additional Information or Skills.

No one looks at these sections and they’re where most people put their keyword-heavy personal information. Instead, stick with sections like Skills/Modifications, Honors & Awards, and Special Interests so you can emphasize your resume more efficiently.

The more employers can get a sense of who you are as an individual, not just an asset with skills that could help them hit business goals, they’re much more likely to want to meet you in person!

Now, when it comes time for that first interview, you should know what questions you’re likely to get from your interviewers. Most interviews will start with some version of Tell me about yourself, or another question that gives you an opening to brag about your best professional accomplishments and show how those experiences make you well-qualified for a job.

In any job interview, whether for software engineering internships or entry-level positions, expect questions like What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? and Why do you want to work here? And don’t forget, some of these questions can sound tricky but don’t be intimidated! Just be yourself – recruiters value authenticity above all else.

Even if you have an awesome resume and online profile, some employers still make follow-up calls after you’ve left an interview. These questions may take place over email or even as actual follow-up phone calls. Just remember – it’s always polite to give your interviewer’s call back, but don’t feel pressured into agreeing on a date and time for that call until you’re ready.

If you do agree to follow up with them via phone, send along a list of your strengths so they can prepare relevant questions for that conversation. Hopefully, these answers will help you ace any interview!

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

6: Where else can you find internships?

Colleges and universities—particularly large, prestigious ones—offer internships across multiple departments, so don’t limit your search to just computer science. Even for CS students, non-CS opportunities are out there. If you can find them—and have a good reason for applying outside of your major—you could diversify your experience without stretching yourself too thin.

And who knows? The skills you learn from one position might translate into new ideas for that side project you’ve been kicking around. In any case, even if it doesn’t benefit you directly, it could help you network with other students in more relevant fields, who may themselves be able to point you toward additional opportunities.

Part-time work: Many people are more familiar with part-time work, and it’s an obvious choice for anyone who needs to help support themselves. However, be aware that your job could limit how many hours you can spend working elsewhere—and some jobs, particularly in retail or fast food, don’t give you enough flexibility. Also remember that even though such jobs are billed as part-time, they may still take up much of your week. And in some cases, you might not have any choice but to take them if you want any spending money at all.

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

Be proactive about finding an internship

Many computer science students get their first internship during senior year. This is definitely not optimal! In fact, it’s far better for you to start looking for an internship as soon as you begin your freshman year of college. There are two reasons for why you should try to land an internship as early in your academic career as possible:

1. The earlier you can take on an internship, the better, since that gives you more time to get valuable experience before graduation, helping with both your GPA and job prospects later on. 2. It’s really hard, if not impossible, to find and secure internships while senior year deadlines are approaching and term papers are due just around the corner!

There are several steps you can take during your freshman year in order to maximize your chances of finding an internship. First, start looking for an internship as soon as possible. As we mentioned above, you should ideally start your search for an internship as early on in college as possible.

However, if you’re just starting out your search and haven’t had much luck finding internships yet, we still recommend that you keep trying until mid-April at least. At that point, most of the internships will have been claimed by other students in computer science or other majors, but it’s still worth applying if there are any vacancies left.

Second, make sure you’re applying for as many internships as possible. It can be hard to find enough internship opportunities when you’re looking at just one or two options. But if you’re able to apply for ten or more different internships, there’s a much better chance that at least one of them will accept your application and offer you an internship position. The key here is to cast as wide a net as possible so you have more options when it comes time for choosing between different offers.

Third, focus on securing an internship as early as possible in your academic career. This might seem like an obvious tip, but many computer science students wait until their senior year to start looking for internships.

In fact, if you don’t start looking for internships until your junior year and get rejected from each one that you apply for, there are only three more years of college left – not nearly enough time to try again! We recommend applying for internships right after your first year in college if you haven’t been able to secure one yet.

By following these three steps, you’ll be able to secure an internship sooner and get more experience in computer science. However, even if you don’t find an internship during your freshman year or right after your first year, there are still plenty of ways for you to get experience in computer science.

For example, we recommend volunteering as a Teaching Assistant or working as a Research Assistant at your school. Doing so will give you valuable experience working with other students and faculty while also helping you stand out when it comes time for job applications!

How to Get a Computer Science Internship

If all else fails, start looking in the summer!

According to data from Course Report and Accenture, computer science majors are more likely than others to get internships over their peers during their senior year of college. If you can’t land an internship during your junior year, don’t worry – and don’t panic! It’s easy to get busy or distracted in college.

As long as you have time before graduation, it’s perfectly fine if you can’t find an internship until summer. Many students take on full-time jobs while they search for an internship and they still do just fine in terms of finding one post-graduation. And besides, some of our best offers come after we’ve graduated from school!

Don’t forget that you can start looking for an internship while still in school – and there are perks of doing so. An internship can be a great experience even if it doesn’t lead to a job, but having one is definitely beneficial.

First off, working for your dream company during college demonstrates a passion for learning about and building on your skillset as well as your career goals. It also gives you extra experience and feedback for your resume.

And finally, internships look great on grad school applications! In fact, many top computer science programs require an internship to apply! So don’t stress too much if you find yourself struggling to get one before graduating from college: just enjoy the last few months of your student life before putting 100% effort into landing an amazing job.

If you haven’t started looking for an internship yet, then consider doing so now. Check out sites like Course Report and Accenture, look through our employer profiles, or reach out to companies directly. These are some of your best bets for landing an internship in computer science – but always feel free to broaden your horizons! Look at opportunities for other majors that use software development skills.

Companies like Square, Bloomberg, and Palantir are great places to work that hire non-CS students as well. Reach out to local startups or established companies with R&D arms; one of them might have a spot for you. In fact, there’s no reason not to apply even if it’s too late in your current program!

If you have an internship lined up, there are still some things you can do before it starts. First off, don’t forget about your regular responsibilities during that period! While an internship does increase your professional experience and make for a great line on your resume, it doesn’t excuse missing classes or turning in assignments late.

Secondly, keep in mind that part of what makes internships worth having is their competitive nature – don’t get too comfortable while working at a company where you might like to work after graduation! Always challenge yourself and consider how you can learn and grow more while at your internship.

There’s no doubt that internships are extremely beneficial for your career and education, especially as a computer science major. The sooner you start looking for one, however, and take advantage of all it has to offer – from networking to project experience –the better! Good luck with your search and remember that even if it takes longer than you planned, there’s no rush: an internship is always worth waiting for. Be persistent, put in some hard work, and enjoy getting out there while still in school!

How to Get a Computer Science Internship


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