Tips for finding your first internship

I have been in the software industry for almost a year now, and when I was first searching for jobs, I was overwhelmed and wished that someone who was relatable to me would share their tips and tricks for getting the first role.

I think it's important that you understand my background at the time, so that you can see what I had to work with.

I was:

  • Working 2 jobs, both retail

  • A junior in college, working on a CS degree

  • A good student

  • Not creative... didn't have much to put on a portfolio

  • Good at web development

I needed a job which was part-time and would bring me into the industry. I thought that would be impossible to find, but I was surprised at how many there were. Here are my tips for finding your internship.

Get help with your resume

Before I visited the career center at my school, I was convinced that my resume was fantastic. I googled for hours trying to find tips and tricks for making it better. For this reason, I didn't think it was necessary to meet a career counselor about it. Luckily, the school required that all students using its system to apply for jobs have a few appointments with a career counselor first.

As it turns out, my resume was NOT good. The career counselor very nicely tore the thing apart, pointing out its flaws, and helped me to build a resume which was actually good.

Immediately I started getting calls from employers. This was the single biggest boon to my job search at the time. Even if you don't have access to a career counselor, I'd suggest finding someone you trust to take a look at your resume and see if it's any good. Chances are that they'll find a few things that can be improved upon, and you'll have an easier time finding jobs after making some changes.

Get your name out there

Truthfully, I didn't even apply to my internship. I had no idea that the company existed before receiving an e-mail from them reaching out to see if I'd be interested in working there. They found my resume on a career board, and they desperately needed a part-time developer to help their team out.

I had a few other offers from companies that I actually applied to, but having your name out there on a few job boards will take a lot of the burden off of your shoulders. Posting blog posts on sites like this one will help in getting your name out there too!

List some projects on your resume

If you are like I was, you don't have any professional experience that is relevant to the positions that you're interested in. To prove that you're capable, you're going to have to place a "projects" section onto your resume.

During interviews, my prospective employers were always impressed by the projects that I put in this section. You can put whatever you've built, as long as you are prepared to talk about it at length in your interview.

To get my internship, I had a note-taking web app, another web app which I ended up not finishing, and my portfolio website on my resume. Under each project title I had a few bullet points which explained how I built the projects, and what they did. In the interview I was asked about why I used the technologies I used, and to go a bit more in-depth about the process and the status of the applications.

If you follow these tips, I promise that you'll have an easier time finding jobs. Good luck!