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I am a first year CS student and my programming experience is only what I have obtained in my computer programming I and II classes this school year. (console applications in C++)

I want to find a summer job/internship that would help me build my skill set. Being that I am still such a beginner pay is not a concern, minimum wage would be nice, but as long as I am learning, I really don't care. My current resume just lists a bunch of random jobs i've had in the past (burger king, summer camps, best buy, etc.)

Does anyone have any tips (places to look? things to put on resume?) that might help me?

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closed as off topic by Walter, Yannis Rizos Mar 7 '12 at 14:14

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4 Answers 4

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First of all, as a college student (I assume first year means college, but correct me if I'm wrong), your campus should have a career office. You should take the time to connect with people there for general advice and in case they know of opportunities. They may, they also may not, but they will offer you invaluable help preparing your resume and practicing interview questions regardless. Know and use that office.

Second of all, use your professors. They quite possibly have friends in the industry and connections or can work connections with former students. Arrange meetings with them (soon - the interview process for internships is usually happening right around now) and let them know what you are looking for and ask for help.

Third make sure to work any connections you already may have. Ask older students where they are applying. Think of your parents' friends or parents of your friends who are in the software engineering, programming, IT, or other related industries, or even in places where such jobs exist. E-mail them and ask for suggestions or even a list of openings. Connections are the number one way that people find jobs.

Fourth if there are any career fairs at your school, make sure to attend them. Your resume as edited by career services should be in hand.

Fifth you can look online. Rather than going to a jobs site, think of employers in areas where you want to be for the summer (near home, a big city you'd like to live in, near school, etc.) who have programming jobs. Look to see if they have internship opportunities posted. Send in your resume. Note that this is not usually a highly successful way of getting a job, but it is better than nothing. For places that you might want to work that don't have a listing posted, you could always e-mail a letter of inquiry to their recruiter or human services stating your desire to have an internship (leave pay out of the equation - if they want your help they'll hire you).

Finally make sure you are keeping yourself sharp both in and out of school. Try and learn as much as you can, and work on open source projects if you have spare time to get your name out there!

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2  
I like this answer, but would add one key detail: Take the advice of more computer-science savvy advisers over generalists. Rules are different in the software industry; even basic rules like "you can't overdress for an interview" don't apply in some regions. You don't want to look like you are applying for a marketing position, so be careful about showing up to an interview in a suit! You might also want to set up a "LinkedIn" account - I don't know if interns ever get cold-calls, but it can't hurt. It will help with step #3 above as well. –  Ethel Evans Feb 11 '11 at 18:54

I've had an excellent summer internship last year with a company that I found through Stackoverflow (actually they found me but that's a different story). So if you're looking for a really good internship, here's what I'd do:

  • Participate on Stackoverflow, show your skills (technical as well as writing)
  • Try to answer a variety of questions. If your can also find answers outside the scope of your current skills, this shows an employer you are enthusiastic to learn
  • Ubiquitous: Get a portfolio (doesn't matter how lousy you think it is). You worked on an open source project? Great! You wrote something for your sportsclub? Manage the family network (only if its more than a router and a switch of course). Put everything you currntly have up there, you will exchange it for better things to put there when you scored that internship.
  • Browse through the first 100 User pages (or use the API or the datadump, make sure to Open Source this). Find out where these guys are working. Apply there.

There is no better way to find a company where you have such a high chance of getting excellent mentorship. All developers at the company I was interning at last summer are active members on SO. Needless to say I had the best possible internship I can Imagine.

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Network. It's definitely hard getting started when you don't have any experience on your resume. I got my first internship through a friend of a friend, and it was an invaluable experience. So ask around, talk to as many people as you can, visit job fairs and anybody who might be visiting your campus, etc. Let them know exactly what you posted in this question: looking for experience, eager to learn, pay not that important, etc. Good luck!

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I am currently on a 12 month internship in the UK. So, I cannot help you where to look in the US.

In the UK, I found that whilst definately a factor, companies did not look so much at your technical competence at this stage. I found that showing enthusiasm and a real desire to learn were key in securing my internship. My CV/Resume, listed my current skills, community involvement and any learning paths outside of academia that I was pursuing. Within the interview(s) itself, particulary when asked something I did not know, I showed desire and enthusiasm to want to learn that.

I generally believe, that it was more my soft skills and enthusiasm that directly influenced the employers decision as opposed to my technical skills.

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