Before you dive head first into the deep waters of the IT job market, it’s a good idea to get your feet wet with an internship. Interning offers a variety of benefits, including the most obvious, real-world experience. But, don’t be fooled into thinking of an internship as strictly a resume-builder. If you find the right fit, your internship will help you start building your professional network and could be your golden ticket to full-time employment. Use these tips to land an awesome tech internship.
Do Your Homework
The first step to landing a tech internship is to ask yourself some questions. Where do you see yourself working? Do you picture a small start-up or a larger, more corporate environment? Do you ultimately desire to specialize in a specific skill set or would you enjoy a wider range of responsibilities? Start by identifying organizations where you want to work. If you don’t know where to start, a good rule of thumb is to take inventory of the products you like and already use, or companies that cater to your interests.
Take Some Initiative
Once you have your list, start searching. Many organizations will have internship opportunities listed on their website—but if they don’t, don’t let it deter you. Pick up the phone and ask to talk to somebody in human resources. Introduce yourself and ask them if they have an internship program. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you can add value. Then, dig a little deeper. Sometimes you can find blogs, news articles or videos on social media where interns share their experiences. Having some inside perspective always helps!
These days, soft skills, such as communication, customer service and professionalism, are just as important as technical skills when it comes to landing an IT internship. Organizations want to hire individuals who can work seamlessly with others and are able to effectively contribute to a team. Once you score an interview, make sure you emphasize any customer-facing experience you may have—even if it’s not in the tech sector. And, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through by talking about your hobbies, interests and passions.
Highlight Your Experience
Even when you’re applying for an internship without significant experience in your field, it’s important to showcase the tech skills and industry knowledge that you bring to the table. Include school and personal projects on your resume and be prepared to discuss your process to successfully completing both group and individual work. If you’ve participated in tech associations or extracurriculars during middle or high school, include those experiences as well. Employers want to hire interns that have an interest in the industry and desire to learn outside the classroom.
Stay Open Minded
Remember: An internship is all about learning. While the goal may be to find that “perfect match” organization, sometimes finding the opposite is just as valuable. You may go into an internship thinking that you want to be one thing and come out the other end finding that you discovered something better. You may even find that the reality of your “perfect job” just isn’t for you—and that’s okay. Internships provide the perfect opportunity to dip your toe into different careers and gaining an understanding of both the good and the bad is valuable as you determine the IT career path for you.
In the end, scoring an awesome tech internship isn’t that different from any other interview you may have already had. If you do your homework, stay proactive and let your passion shine through, you’ll soon find yourself in the midst of one great learning experience. Good luck!