No Internship, No Problem.
Unable to land an internship this summer or just forgot to apply, it’s not the end of the world! This is my first Medium article and it will be geared toward engineering and business students or anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
We’re very lucky to be in a time and place where we have world class resources and tools available to us for free. I would like to highlight some of those for you. Before I begin, I’d love to to share this article written by Karis Hustad on Chicago Inno StreetWise:
World changing ventures from Facebook to Dropbox, as well as local startups Moneythink to UProspie, were started by…chicagoinno.streetwise.co
It covers a lot of different organizations, entrepreneurship centers, venture competitions, funding resources, Meetups, more events, media outlets, fellowships, accelerators, maker spaces, incubators and much more. It’s a must read and share.
I can discuss why this is all great news in just a minute. Aside from all the amazing resources and opportunities we have available to us for free as students in Chicago, there’s a whole other world online. I would like to highlight some of the best resources I’ve used to learn programming over the years and if you can think of anything else that’s worked for you in the past, please include it in the comments!
If you like more of an interactive guide to learning how to code and practicing it: www.codeacademy.com
If you like the sound of Sal’s voice, Khan Academy recently started doing lots of Computer Science education videos.
iOS Development is hot right now and it pays well so if you’re still unsure of what direction you want to go in CS.. dive into iOS, it’s fun! Here’s a great course on Udemy for it. Udemy also has thousands of other great courses for anything you want to learn for very cheap!
Of course, there is always more information online but these are all the things I’ve experimented with and have found success in and believe you can to.
Now that I’ve laid out an abundance of resources and opportunities you can use to learn and grow, I’d like to offer my second bit of advice which is to use this summer to place yourself in a position so that you feel confident to land an internship for next summer. Your first entry level software engineering internship will usually require you to have a strong understanding of OOP, Data Structures and Algorithms. To put the icing on the cake, if you’re able build an online portfolio with cool projects, this will set you a part from other candidates. Regardless of whether you’ve learned these concepts in your classroom or not yet; you need to deliberately build and practice upon them. Every day, your hands need to be touching code. Once you feel confident with the above subjects, get your hands on Cracking the Coding Interview and/or start using some of these websites to practice solving typical interview coding questions: Hacker Rank, Hacker Earth, or LeetCode. LeetCode is my personal favorite as it contains real interviewing questions from the largest tech companies, some of my friends have told me that LeetCode was one of the biggest reasons they were able to tackle their coding interviews successfully at some of the biggest tech giants. If you pay for it, you can get access to the specific company interview questions you’re looking for.
If you’re still interested in landing an internship for this current summer, you won’t have much or any luck with the big companies but if you go to places like 1871 Chicago, MATTER, or visit events like TechWeek you might meet small startups working on cool things that will have a less formal interviewing process and probably won’t nail you on the deep computer science theory problems. They will probably want to see a young motivated individual who has clearly expressed interest in learning. Just by showing up to these places, you’re ahead of the game because it shows that you’ve got guts.
Startups are cool, the reason I said that above report on Chicago was great news is because if you’re interested in starting your own startup/project, now’s the perfect time. This of course is a whole other topic but I will highlight a few things that have helped me in my previous and current entrepreneurial endeavors. A great place to start is at home on your laptop, watch this legendary video series on How to Start a Startup by Sam Altman at Stanford. I’ve also enjoyed reading Peter Thiel’s book called Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future. Nik Rokop, entrepreneurship professor at Illinois Institute of Technology offers a great TED Talk on ‘Why you must start a business while in school’. I will publish another article soon that can dive deeper into this subject, these are just some of my go to resources to getting started. If you have any others, please share in the comments!
For all engineering students, I highly recommend setting up your GitHub Profile using source control for all of future projects. Employers will first look at your resume, GitHub, personal website if you have one and LinkedIn. All of those would be great things to develop this summer and will help you in your career forever. GitHub also offers a Student Developer Pack which comes with an abundance of resources for developers! Putting your projects online will showcase your knowledge of programming and your drive to create real applications. Nowadays, employers want to see someone who’s not just good at programming but passionate about it.
I covered a lot of ground and it can be easy to read this article and simply dismiss it, which is what brings me to my final piece of advice. Find a friend or group of friends who want to make the most of this summer and together, set daily/weekly goals. It comes down to how many hours are you willing to put in and without an employer giving you deadlines it can be difficult to be self motivated enough to do any of this. If you find a group of passionate friends, create a project management board and meet weekly to discuss your progress and obstacles, hold each other accountable and change the world together. Make this your summer of change.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and publishing more articles like this for all of you! Please comment any success you’ve had with anything I mentioned above, that would be very inspiring to hear!