If you’re interested in being a programmer or researcher, you probably want to know how important a computer science internship is when beginning your career. An internship can be valuable, but it can also be a waste of time, depending on the company that hires you as an intern. In general, an internship is not necessary for getting a job as a programmer, but it can be very helpful when starting a career in research.
Starting a Computer Science Career
If you’re planning to go to graduate school, you should definitely apply for as many interesting summer internships as you can find, but if you’re planning to go into software design, an internship isn’t really necessary. However, a good internship can give you useful experience and possibly some connections in the industry, so don’t overlook programming internships just because you don’t want to be a researcher. The most important step to take when preparing for a career in software design is learning how to build programs that work. To get good at programming, you need to work on projects with other programmers, and you can find plenty of excellent opportunities on open-source networks like GitHub and Google Code.
An internship is useful for getting some corporate experience or a little job credit for your résumé if you want to work in a corporate environment, but it won’t teach you how to code. When you start applying for programming jobs, your potential employers will test you on your programming knowledge, and these tests will be similar to the exams you take in your data structures, algorithms and software design courses. You will need to know how to design software with the Unified Modeling Language, how to choose the most efficient algorithms and how to debug a program.
Depending on the job you apply for, you will also need to be proficient in one or several programming languages that you probably won’t learn in college. If you find an internship that will put you to work building software with other programmers, you should definitely grab it, but if it’s just a position shadowing another worker, you may be better off honing your programming skills on your own. One of the biggest complaints from employers is that most programmers fail their interview tests, so getting your coding knowledge as sharp as possible will put you ahead of the pack.
Finding Research Internships
Graduate students should apply for internships doing interesting research because it will give them real work experience. Many of these positions can be tedious for interns, but you don’t always have much of a choice. The researchers who have already earned their degrees get to do the interesting part of the work, and the students take care of the less glamorous, laborious part. There are always positions open at universities, so you can apply for the ones you find interesting around the summer and winter breaks. They’re usually merit-based, so keeping your GPA as high as possible will help you get accepted.
Computer science is one of the most popular majors these days because the demand for software engineers is at an all-time high. If you love designing software, writing code and figuring out solutions to technical problems, you’ll probably benefit from completing a relevant computer science internship.