When To Apply For Computer Science Internships

One of the first things I wanted to know as a C.S. student is when to apply to Computer Science internships. I knew that if I landed at least one internship, it would set me up for success when searching for a full-time role after graduation.

In this article, I want to share not only the best time to apply for these roles but also tips to make sure you get one. It’s a terrible feeling to work so hard to land an internship only to be faced with constant rejection. So be sure to follow these tips!

When To Apply For Computer Science Internships

Many tech companies open their applications for summer internships in the fall of the year before, between August and December. This is the best time to apply for Computer Science internships. It's ideal to be among the first to apply for Computer Science internships regardless of when they are posted.

Applying For C.S. Internships In The Fall

The first round of recruitment for Computer Science internships happens in the fall, the year before the position actually begins. This gives companies more time to sift through applications and decide who actually gets to interview.

This also leaves those companies with plenty of time to conduct interviews and prepare to take on their new interns. It’s a good strategy, especially for companies that receive massive amounts of applications and accept a good number of them.

Most of the businesses that take on this strategy are large tech-based companies such as Google, Facebook (Meta), Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, etc. Although plenty of other companies follow suit and start accepting applications for their summer internships in the fall months.

Applying For C.S. Internships In The Spring

The second round of recruitment happens around Spring, between the months of January and May. This leaves less time for companies to choose prospective candidates. 

However, for small and mid-sized companies that receive fewer applicants, hire fewer candidates, and have less intensive interview processes, this is more than enough time.

Although Computer Science internships at big tech companies are typically more sought after, you should absolutely apply to these roles as well. These will typically be less competitive and still offer a great learning experience.

Not to mention, having any professional experience is better than having no experience. So if you don’t land the role you were really after, having some experience will make it more likely for you to get your dream internship the following summer.

When I Applied For Computer Science Internships

I didn’t apply to any C.S. internships in my freshman year of college. At that time, I simply didn’t understand the importance of internships. However, the following year, I did apply to many of them.

From the months of September to May of the following year, I applied to over 100 internships. Alas, in the summer of my Sophomore year, I was left again without an internship. 

Let me tell you this: not getting an internship, especially when you really want it and work hard for it, really sucks. But instead of feeling bad for myself, I worked on a side project that whole summer.

The following year, I was more determined than ever. I updated my resume with my new project and my new skills. I applied for internships as soon as they were available. But in the summer of my Junior year, I finally landed an internship!

How To Get A Computer Science Internship

Computer Science internships are very competitive and can be difficult to obtain. I wasn’t able to get one my Freshman year or my Sophomore year in college but I don’t want that to happen to you!

There are several things you can do to stand out from the crowd and land the internship that you’re hoping for. Or, at the very least, obtain a position that sets you up better for the following summer.

How I Finally Landed My Internship

There are three things that I did differently that helped me finally get an internship. However, I have more tips than just these three. Here is what I did to make myself the perfect candidate for the role I landed.

1. I built a project the previous summer. 

The project I built was a WordPress blog. Although I highly recommend you build some projects outside of your schoolwork, I don’t recommend you build them with WordPress. Do your own research on what technologies are in demand and are used for the roles you want. Then learn the fundamentals of those technologies and build a project with them.

2. I improved my skillset. 

Even after I built my project, I continued to improve my skills. I used a coding website to learn web development basics such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These may be basic-level skills but it’s really important to have a firm grasp of the basics before learning any advanced frameworks.

3. I networked and made good connections. 

The same website that I used to learn web development also had a forum. Every week I posted in that forum to promote my blog and meet other like-minded developers. Eventually, I talked to someone who had an internship position open at their company. I applied, I interviewed, and I got it!

10 Tips To Obtain A Computer Science Internship

Learn from my experience so you don’t have to rely only on yours. I wish I knew then what I know now so that I wouldn’t have to go two summers without an internship. If you follow these 10 tips and follow them well, then you’ll get an internship this coming summer.

  • Improve Your Skills - Research what technologies are used in the roles you want. Then, find a course, read the documentation, practice, and learn!
  • Make A Side Project - Take the skills you’ve been working on and put them into a practical project. This will make you a desirable candidate.
  • Push To GitHub - Every line of code you write should end up on GitHub. Not only is it good to have a central location for all of your code when you need to refer back to it, but employers use it to see how active you are as a programmer.
  • Update Your Resume - With your new skills and your new project, you’ll now be a good fit for many roles. Put those on your resume so everyone knows the hard work you’ve done and the talent you’ve developed in yourself.
  • Update Your LinkedIn - Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. It’s one of the best places to make professional connections and network with recruiters and like-minded developers. It’s also a great idea to showcase your new skills and projects here as well.
  • Network - Make connections with your peers, recruiters, and hiring managers. Try to reach out to employees at any company you apply to, introduce yourself, and learn more about the company. It’s also a good idea to check out some career fairs.
  • Prepare For Interviews - Should you grind Leet Code problems? Yes. Especially if you want an internship at a top tech company. However, you also need to practice your soft skills. Many skip over this but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is.
  • Apply Early And Often - When you apply for a role, it’s best to make it as personal as possible. Tailor your resume to suit each listing, include a cover letter, reach out to an employee of that company and introduce yourself. But also keep in mind that landing an internship is a numbers game. You’ll want to apply to as many as possible as often as they appear.
  • Follow Up - Because internships are competitive, companies receive a lot of applications. It’s a good thing to follow up after you apply. Additionally, you should reach out and send a quick “thank you” after any interview or meeting with a recruiter.
  • Have Fun - A lot of hard work goes into acquiring a Computer Science internship. It’s competitive and even draining at times. It’s really important to keep things light and have fun with the process. Don’t stress too much. Not only is this healthier for you physically and mentally, but it will also increase your odds of getting the role you want.
  • Conclusion

    We’ve established that the best time to apply for summer Computer Science internships is in the fall of the previous year. However, it’s also important to keep applying through the fall, winter, and spring as soon as the job listings appear.

    If you don’t land an internship this coming summer, use that time wisely and built a project or hone your skills. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

    Refer to my tips and it will greatly improve your chances of getting the internship you desire. And don’t forget to have fun! Good luck!