Computer Science Internship: How To Get?

Here’s how to get a computer science internship:

In short, you apply for an internship and get selected.

In reality, there is a lot more going on.

In order to be a competitive internship prospect, you should be developing skills wherever you can, doing your best in class, networking to meet people in the industry, and building a portfolio of personal projects.

So if you want to learn all about how to get a computer science internship, then this article is for you.

Let’s dive right in!

Computer Science Internship: How To Get? (All the Info)

How Do You Get a Computer Science Internship?

As you can see, there is no short, simple answer. 

Computer science internships are competitive, so you’ll have to work for it, especially if you want a highly coveted position.

Really, this can be broken down into four ideas.

First, you have to apply, and I’ll cover what that really means in more detail.

You also have to make yourself competitive.

On top of that, networking is really important.

Lastly, you should be preparing for any opportunities that arise.

Never walk into an interview blind (even if it’s an online interview).

So, I’m going to take you through these concepts in detail and help you corner the computer science internship market.

How Many Internships Should You Apply For? (2 Tips)

No one is going to give you an internship out of the blue (unless your uncle owns the business or something).

You have to apply.

That much is obvious, but is it better to really focus on one or two internships, or should you be spamming your resume out there to anyone who will read it?

The answer is both.

You should spend more time really pursuing the internships that you think are the best for you.

But, it never hurts to put out some extra applications as backups.

So, let’s talk about how to do both of these things at the same time.

#1 Be Prolific

Computer science is a competitive field.

Some of the most coveted internships on the planet fall under this umbrella.

If you want to break in, you’re going to have to apply, and if you’re not already in the top 0.01% of students, then you might need to apply for more than just the most competitive spots.

Put your name out there.

Apply for anything that seems promising.

It’s really a simple numbers game.

If you only apply to one internship, then you have to beat everyone in that pool.

If you apply to multiple, then your odds of winning one of the available slots increase.

After all, it’s better to have to turn down offers than not receive any offers.

#2 Find Your Niche

Even while you’re applying to a lot of different positions, it’s important to think about what you really want to do.

The sooner you can find an area of passion within computer science, the sooner you can really develop your skills in that area.

When you really dig into a niche part of the field, you’ll quickly get better at those aspects of computer science.

That will make you more competitive when you apply for an internship.

Additionally, if you apply for a position well within your passion area, you’ll probably have more enthusiasm when you interview and after you land the internship.

It’s a win all around.

How Do You Make Yourself Appealing as a Candidate for Computer Science Internships? (4 Tricks)

I’ve talked about how to apply, but that’s really just the beginning of this journey.

If you want to actually get the internship, then you have to be competitive.

The entire purpose is to convince a recruiter or hiring manager that you are a good choice.

How do you do that?

There are a few things.

Part of it is knowing the right people, which I’ll discuss a little later. 

Part of it is building up your skills.

Coursework helps with that, but there are things you can do to branch out and get experience even before you have a job or internship in the industry.

All of the ideas listed below cater to that.

These are great tricks to get better at computer science and become a more appealing internship candidate.

#1 Join Groups

This is a general idea, and it goes like this.

If you participate in the social elements of studying computer science, you will meet more people.

That’s the most important part of networking, so opportunities are likely to follow.

This can apply to joining simple study groups.

That will help you do better in class, and you might even meet people who have landed internships who can give you advice or even recommendations.

It can also apply to joining academic societies.

I’ll be circling back to these a little later, but participating in the society can help you add a little flavor to your resume.

It also expands your networking circles.

#2 Build a Portfolio

In computer science, this is one of the most important things you can do for your career.

The degree is valuable, but ultimately, employers want to see evidence of your work.

So, invest time in your own projects.

Build that Discord server that interests you.

Design your own game.

Write algorithms to make your math homework easier.

Whatever it is that you want to work on during your own time, do it.

Those personal projects become your resume.

You can show your initiative in building things on your own.

You can show your growth as your design or execution efficiencies improve over time.

You can demonstrate your passions and ability to commit to something over time.

Most of all, you can show the things that you have done that none of the other candidates have.

They are your projects, and the creativity you put into them helps separate you from the crowd.

Build a personal portfolio.

#3 Strategize Coursework

Since you are trying to find your niche and steer into an area of core strength within computer science, it would help to strategize your coursework around all of that.

To the extent that you can, try to take classes that help build up your portfolio and will make you more adept in areas that pertain to the internships that catch your eye.

If you want to go into game development, then a game design elective is probably a good idea.

You get the picture.

It’s all about making yourself appealing for the internship, and this adds to everything else that you are doing.

#4 Work in Labs

If you get the opportunity, work in a lab or on a formal research project.

Whether it’s just a computer lab for general students or direct research under a professor, any lab or research time does a lot to help your resume.

This will help you explore niches and develop specific skills.

It looks great to recruiters.

Most of all, working in a lab is one of the most valuable networking opportunities in all of academia.

You will work closely with whoever runs that lab.

They will be much more likely to point you in the direction of good opportunities, and they’ll be likely to give you a letter of recommendation.

How Can You Find Computer Science Internship Opportunities? (3 Choices)

The previous sections talk a lot about making yourself competitive.

That’s nice, but it’s all meaningless unless you know where to find internships in order to apply.

There are online resources, and I’ll cover them in detail later.

First, it’s good to start with networking.

Networking will help you hear about good internships so that you can apply.

At the same time, it enables you to build relationships that will also boost how competitive you are as a contact.

It might sound unfortunate, but a lot of landing your first job comes down to who you know.

So, if you know more people, your opportunities increase.

With that in mind, these are the best networking opportunities for computer science students.

If you use them to the best of your ability, you will meet people in the industry, and you will find internship opportunities as a result.

#1 Job Fairs

Job fairs are teeing you up for success.

They represent a wonderful opportunity to meet people in your field, but you have to make the most of them.

Job fairs are filled with recruiters.

These are people who specialize in communication.

They’re hunting for the next great talent.

How do you make yourself stand out to a recruiter?

Talk to them.

No, really.

It’s that easy.

So many students go to a job fair, browse a few booths, grab a brochure, and that’s it.

They don’t realize that the point is to meet people and ask questions.

If you engage, truly engage, with recruiters at the fair, they will remember you.

A recruiter’s recommendation is worth its weight in gold.

So, be friendly.

Put yourself out there, and have some informative conversations with job fair recruiters.

#2 Societies

I mentioned this briefly, but honor and scholastic societies are worth more discussion.

Formal computer science societies like SiC, GDC, SCGSO, and more are worth your time.

If there is a chapter at your school, join up.

It will take some time, but this is a networking buffet.

You’re going to meet alumni who are also in the society, and these are industry experts who have knowledge and contacts that can help you land an internship.

If you don’t have a chapter at your school, see if it’s feasible to open or start one.

If you think joining a society is good for getting an internship, imagine how it looks to build one from the ground up.

#3 Office Hours

Even if you aren’t in a lab or a society, there are still networking opportunities where you study.

Office hours are all you need.

Even if you’re doing fine in the class, drop by your favorite professor when they have office hours.

You don’t want to detract from people who need help, but at least stopping to say hi is a great way to foster a relationship.

Once you have that relationship, the professor is likely to give you good advice about advancing your career, even as that pertains to internships.

They also might give you one of those coveted letters of recommendation.

Remember, they work as a professor because at least on some level, they want to foster the next generation of computer scientists.

So let them foster you.

Where Else Can You Look To Apply for Internships?

I’ve told you how to build up your resume and how to use networking to your advantage, but where can you find the internships?

How do you even know where to apply?

Outside of advice you get from your networking efforts, there is a really useful resource that you can use to find internships.

It’s called the internet.

In general, there are three very productive sites you can use: LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed.

Indeed is a good place to look for job postings and find internships you can apply for directly.

At Glassdoor, you can look up individual companies and search for internships.

You can also do research on the internships you find on Indeed to see if they are a good fit.

LinkedIn is social media for professional networking.

It gives you opportunities to reach out to people directly, and recruiters are almost certainly on LinkedIn, so you can use it to stay in touch and really go after those intern positions with gusto.

There are plenty of other smaller, niche sites where you can find additional opportunities.

There are too many to list here, but if you do have specific goals for your computer science internship, see if you can find sites or online communities that will help you in that respect.

Any More Tips for Getting a Computer Science Internship?

The last thing to talk about is preparation.

If you’re applying to a lot of positions and networking to the best of your ability, opportunities will arise.

When they do, it’s up to you to make the most of it.

Mostly, you want to prepare for your interviews.

Do mock interviews with people in the industry.

If you can’t find anyone, reach out to campus resources.

There should be a guidance office, and this falls in line with the kind of stuff they’re supposed to help you with.

If you know anyone who has interned for the company you’re trying to land, talk to them about it.

Any and all preparation that you can put into this will give you an edge over the competition, and that’s really what this is about.

You’re competing with other prospects, and you have to find a way to be more appealing than they are in order to win an internship.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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