Are you ready to kickstart your tech career? An internship is one of the best ways to get a foot in the door for a great tech job. Not only do internships provide valuable experience, but internship opportunities can also lead to full-time jobs.
In this article, we’ll explore why pursuing a tech internship can be a smart move, the different types of tech internships available, and how to find and apply for them.
We’ll also talk about how to stand out and get hired after a tech internship and provide tips for success once you land one.
So, if you’re a college student ready to find an awesome internship, read on for some valuable insights on how to succeed in the tech industry.
Why pursue a tech internship?
A tech internship gives you hands-on experience, networking opportunities, school credits, and sometimes even competitive compensation. It can also give you an advantage when applying for jobs after graduation.
A tech internship is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience and advance your career straight out of college.
So, which majors or career paths should you look for in a tech internship? Computer science, engineering, information technology, and data science and analytics students are the most obvious.
That said, business, entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and advertising students can also benefit from a tech internship.
That’s because tech companies need professionals in areas like finance, human resources, and legal services, so students pursuing degrees in these areas may also be good candidates.
Ultimately, any student from any background with an interest in technology and a desire to learn can benefit from a tech internship. Here’s why.
Hands-on experience allows individuals to acquire practical skills and demonstrate their proficiency in real-world situations. Hands-on work experience will boost your resume and provide practical skills that demonstrate expertise. This can all increase your employability.
Working on real-world projects lets individuals gain experience with their field’s tools, technologies, and methodologies. This practical knowledge is precious in the workplace, helping individuals solve problems and make informed decisions in the future.
A tech internship offers unforced networking opportunities that are easier for more introverted people.
Working on projects with others in your field will help you build organic connections (and friends) who can help you find job opportunities and advance your tech career.
Earning school credit
If you’re a student, one of the benefits of tech internships is the potential to earn school credit. Many colleges and universities offer academic credit for internships, which can count toward your degree requirements. Some bachelor’s degree programs may even require an internship as part of the curriculum.
To earn school credit for your internship, you’ll want to work with your school’s career center or academic adviser to ensure the internship meets the criteria for credit. This may include completing specific assignments or initiatives, attending meetings or workshops, and submitting a final report or presentation.
Obviously, a paid internship is very helpful for offsetting the cost of tuition, housing, and other living expenses. That goes double if you’re looking for an internship in the San Francisco Bay Area, like Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Oakland, Redwood City, or San Jose, as these areas have high rents and higher living costs.
Dig in and do your research to find paid tech internships that do all the other things we’ve mentioned and also put money in your pocket.
Be aware that many paid opportunities offer minimal salary and health care or PTO benefits. As you search for internships, research the company and its compensation practices to ensure it’s a good fit for your financial needs and goals.
Either way, the long-term benefits of an unpaid or low-paid internship will likely outweigh the initial hardship.
Kickstarting your career
A tech internship may be the only opportunity you need to enter the workforce since the company you intern with may offer you work.
Even if the company doesn’t offer you a job afterward, you’ll have valuable references, job training, and a new level of professional competency from the experience.
You’ll also gain tech industry exposure and learn about different roles and career paths. These factors combine to give you an excellent career boost and will help advance your post-internship professional career.
Getting your foot in the door
Reaching out to companies you’d like to continue working for after your tech internship is a good idea.
There is a good chance that the company you intern with will offer you a job if you have a positive experience and make a good impression. You can express your interest in the company and inquire about any available job opportunities. Even if there are no current openings, the company may keep you in mind for future roles.
Additionally, reaching out shows initiative, communication skills, and a willingness to continue building a relationship with the company, which can help you stand out among other job applicants.
Types of tech internships
Now that we understand some of the benefits of an internship in the technology sector, let’s discuss the different types of available technology internships.
Paid vs. unpaid
A technology intern can be paid or unpaid, depending on the company’s policies and resources. Paid internships pay their interns a salary, while unpaid internships offer no compensation.
In place of or in addition to pay, some companies may offer living or housing stipends to help offset the cost of living in a particular area. If you need help finding an internship with housing, you can learn more about it using a resource like Handshake.
Remote vs. on-site
Technology internships can be remote (interns work from home or off-site) or on-site (interns work in person at the company’s physical location).
Remote internships offer flexibility and convenience, allowing interns to work from anywhere. On-site internships, on the other hand, offer more face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals.
Full-time vs. part-time
Technology internships can be full-time or part-time. Full-time internships are typically 40 hours per week and offer more extensive experience and exposure to the industry. Full-time positions could be a good option for a summer internship or during quarters or semesters off school.
On the other hand, part-time internships are less intensive and offer more flexibility in scheduling. They may be suitable for students wanting to balance their coursework with real-world experience.
Tech internships on Handshake
So, what specific tech internships are available to you right now? Here are a few you can find, ranging from project management to software development and cybersecurity.
[Handshake to insert a table with top companies hiring tech interns]
How to find a tech internship
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of an internship, the various types of internships available, and some specific roles you can take as a tech intern, it’s time to take action in securing one. Here are a few tips to help you find the right tech internship for you.
- Prepare early. Start looking for tech internship opportunities early, ideally one season ahead of time. This will give you ample time to research companies, improve your resume, and prepare for interviews. Handshake is a useful resource if you find yourself in a bind when trying to secure an internship.
- Decide what you want. Use job boards to find tech internships that align with your interests and career goals. Factors like company size, work environment, and the technologies they use are important to consider. You can also set up job alerts on Handshake to receive new opportunity notifications.
- Explore different channels. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, your school’s career center, and industry networking events to expand your internship search beyond job boards. Additionally, Handshake can provide a wealth of resources for finding the perfect tech internship.
How to get hired
Tech internships can be very competitive, but don’t worry! Here are a few tips to help you find a desirable internship and make your application stand out from the crowd.
- Use school resources. The school’s career center offers valuable services like resume reviews, mock interviews, and job search preparation help, which can give you an advantage.
- Build your portfolio. A strong portfolio showcasing your coding projects, data analysis projects, or design work is crucial when applying for tech internships. A great portfolio can also aid in finding a job or starting your own business post-college.
- Create a great resume. A great resume is crucial in creating a good first impression with potential employers. Emphasize your relevant skills and experience and tailor your resume for each job application.
- Customize each cover letter. Take the time to submit a customized cover letter for each job application. Highlight your relevant skills and experience and explain why you’re excited about the opportunity.
- Nail the interview. Preparation is key to success. Show your enthusiasm, discuss your experience and skills, and be ready to answer technical questions or take a coding challenge. Practice your skills beforehand to ensure you are fully prepared.
Tech internship success tips
When you finally land the perfect tech internship, you’ll want to put your best foot forward for success. Here are a few final tips to help you make the most of your internship experience:
- Have confidence. Imposter syndrome is a common experience where you feel anxious despite objectively doing well. It’s especially common among interns. If you experience it, remember they chose you for a reason, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Track your progress. Tracking progress helps you measure your accomplishments, identify areas for improvement, and set goals for yourself. Though it requires time upfront, it saves time in the long run and keeps you focused on professional growth.
- Ask questions. As an intern, don’t hesitate to ask questions to learn from your supervisor or colleagues. This is a great way to understand tasks, the industry, and company culture. Take notes to remember what you learn and refer to them later.
- Network. Networking is crucial in tech, just as it is in any industry. Attend company events and conferences and join LinkedIn professional groups to connect with industry professionals. Building relationships through networking can open doors to future job opportunities and mentorship.
Find internships on Handshake
Now you know that tech internships are a great way for students to gain practical experience in the field of technology and to prepare for future career opportunities.
If you’re ready to get started, Handshake is a powerful resource that can help you land the best internships and jobs in the tech industry, including software engineer, startup, and product manager internships.
Just create a Handshake account using your high school or college email address and start searching for opportunities that match your qualifications and interests.
Start exploring available opportunities on Handshake today. With the right experience and skills, you can jumpstart your career in the exciting and rapidly evolving field of technology.
- MIT Technology Review: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
- ZENet: Tech Jobs for Introverts
- Harvard Business Review: Stop Telling Introverts to Act Like Extroverts
- Harvard Business Review: It’s Time to Officially End Unpaid Internships
- New York Times: Why We Still Haven’t Ended Unpaid Internships
- Wall St. Journal: Unpaid Internships Are Going Out of Style
- Time Magazine: Why the Career of the Future Needs a Portfolio Approach
- Jobscan: How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description