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Are Computer Science Internships Hard To Get?

I remember how thrilled I was to receive my first offer for a Computer Science internship. It was my Junior year and the previous year I wasn’t able to land one. I didn’t realize how hard it is to get a Computer Science internship.

The tech industry is a lot more competitive than I realized at the time. Especially at the internship level. I didn’t come to realize this until I attempted to enter the industry.

However, as hard as it may be to get a Computer Science internship, you can give yourself a real advantage over the competition. Let’s take a deep dive into the challenges you’ll face and how you can overcome them.

Are Computer Science Internships Hard To Get?

Computer Science internships are very hard to get. There are more than 250,000 Computer Science students in the United States and only 17,000 Computer Science internships. It’s even more competitive at tech giants such as Google which has an acceptance rate of less than 2% into their internship program.

Why Are Computer Science Internships So Hard To Get?

Unfortunately, Computer Science internships are very competitive which is why they’re so hard to get. It was hard for me to get one because if I’m being honest, I’m kind of an average programmer.

The truth is that it’s really only hard to get a Computer Science internship if you’re average or below average. I know that might be hard to hear for some people, but don’t let it get you down.

There are still things you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd and get a summer internship. Even if it’s not the internship of your dreams, having that experience could lead to your dream role next summer or after you graduate.

Why It’s Okay To Be Average

I did well enough in all of my classes, graduated with a 3.8 GPA, and even worked on some personal projects. However, I don’t grind Leet Code questions for fun and I constantly have to reference documentation and Stack Overflow while coding and debugging.

Will an average programmer invent the next Facebook? Probably not. But that’s not to say you can’t create some website or software and turn it into a profitable business.

But guess what? Being an average programmer is okay. The average programmer will still earn close to $100,000 and possibly more in a full-time role.

And even as an average programmer, I was able to land a Computer Science internship in my Junior year. Additionally, the same company that I interned for offered me a full-time role as a web developer after I graduated.

What It’s Like If You’re Above Average

So what if you’re an above-average developer? What if you go to a top school, get perfect grades, have a good network, relevant projects, and nail interview questions?

Then your experience probably won’t be like mine. It will probably be more like Quinn’s. I mentioned Quinn’s story in another article detailing how much Computer Science interns can expect to make.

Quinn received 8 offers for Computer Science internships from top tech companies. He now had his choice from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, and a few others.

How To Land A Computer Science Internship If You’re An Average Developer

The most common feeling that Computer Science students have is imposter syndrome. We see students like Quinn who excel in their courses and get offers us normies can only dream of. 

But please, don’t let that discourage you! I’m certain that at some point in time, Quinn had imposter syndrome too. But he didn’t let that stop him. Instead, people like Quinn have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

This simply means that you’ll get better as long as you put in the work to improve yourself. No one is born excellent, I promise you. Excellence is achieved by getting better every single day for as many days as it takes.

Grow Your Skills

When I was in school taking six classes in a semester, it didn’t leave me with a lot of time to build my skills outside of class. But it’s important to make time.

Why? Because although you’re learning excellent fundamentals in school, they usually don’t teach the newer technologies that companies are using.

You’ll likely learn some variations of the C language, Java, SQL, JavaScript, etc. But they’re typically not going to teach you Node.js, Go, GraphQL, TypeScript, React.js, or any of the more recent technologies that companies are transitioning to.

Do your research and figure out what tech is required at your desired internship. Then, read the documentation and find a course that will help teach you the fundamentals.

Build Projects

After you choose what languages, frameworks, and libraries to learn and you pick up the fundamentals, it’s time for the next step. Take everything you’ve learned and build a project with it!

Not only with this help solidify what you’ve learned, but it will look great on a resume and give you something to talk about in your interviews. Unique projects really stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.

Network

So now you’ve grown your skills, built some projects, and updated your resume to showcase them. The final step is to network within the development community.

This final step can be just as important as the previous ones. However, for many students, this is actually the most difficult step. Many C.S. students are introverts so it’s more natural for us to jam out some code than it is to network.

But this is actually how I got my first Computer Science internship and it’s one of the best ways to find opportunities. Better yet, if you put yourself out there sometimes the opportunities will find you!

Conclusion

For most Computer Science students, internships are hard to get. This is because there is a lot of competition for these roles. However, there are things you can do to make yourself a qualified candidate and potentially get multiple offers. 

Start by identifying the required languages and frameworks for the roles that you want. Then learn those technologies, build some projects using said technologies, and network with other students, recruiters, and hiring managers.