As augmented reality, AI, the Metaverse, blockchain, and Web3 technologies emerge, computer sciences will only continue growing in importance. For computer science students and graduates, computer science is the 19th most popular college degree in 2019, making up an estimated 2.06 million employees in the workforce. With a 22% projected annual growth rate, it’s critical to launch your career on the right foot, and internships are an excellent way to kickstart that growth. At least 60% of the workforce since 2013 participated in an internship, making up a vast majority of the 2022 workforce. Internships offer real-world experience, enhanced career prospects, academic credit, and unparalleled networking opportunities.
Internships are your first entry into the real-world job market as they expose you to different organizations, roles, projects, styles of working, and more. Not only do internships offer real-world experience in the field you think you’ll like, but they also help you discover new fields you might not have thought of. Internships can help you learn about the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of a job you think is interesting, and they can also help you vet roles that might turn out to be more interesting than you thought. In addition, internships offer the chance to work on real-world projects instead of in-class assignments, which is a tactical way to enhance your computer science learning.
During internships, building relationships at every level of the organization is critical — from leadership to middle management to other college students interning. You can learn from high-level executives’ years of experience and perspective on your industry. Even with your peers, you can build valuable relationships that might help your future career. Internships help you build better career prospects as you could use a manager as a reference for a future job and put applicable projects and experience on your resume.
Many computer science internships can apply for college credit and save you from sitting through hours of lectures. Instead of tests, quizzes, and homework, you can gain real-life experience from exciting projects and organizations while still gaining academic credit. Typically, to apply for credit, internship programs should be well formulated and documented, and you should be able to answer your college’s questions about what you learned and worked on.
Networking is arguably one of the most important aspects of a computer science internship. When you start an internship, make an effort to reach out to different managers and employees, meet them for coffee, and learn more about their professional journey. You might connect with people much more experienced than you who can act as a mentor or recommend you for future jobs.
Internships aren’t easy, and even the application and interview process can be grueling. Many students might forgo an academic year or summer internship to socialize, travel, or simply relax. Internships showcase ambition and drive, creating a unique differentiator on resumes that help you stand out in the post-grad pack.
Things to Avoid in a Computer Science Internship
While many computer science internships are amazing opportunities, there are some red flags to watch out for. A lack of program structure, no previous intern testimonials or success stories, and a lack of mentorship are a few major red flags to watch out for when applying and interviewing at different employers.
If a computer science internship seems brand new or poorly formulated, it’s best to avoid it. As mentorship, real-world experience, and networking are critical factors of an internship’s success, a program without those isn’t of high quality or valuable — and it might not be relevant for academic credit either. When interviewing, ask questions about the program, such as what you’ll be working on and learning and if past interns offered any reflections on their time in the program.
A computer science diploma is one of the most valuable educational degrees to hold, and high-quality internships can help you establish your credibility, network with skilled professionals, get valuable real-world experience, and decide exactly what post-graduate job suits you best.