Sponsored by Santander as part of their SME Internship Programme, I was offered a 10-week internship with the Learning Locker team here at Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs). As a female, going into a typically male-dominated profession, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
With this being the first internship I’d participated in, there are a few things I wish I had known before I started applying. The process of applying for work experience, internships and, even, permanent positions, can be extremely time consuming and can sometimes leave you feeling slightly defeated if it takes a while to recieve any positive feedback.
It is with this in mind that I have compiled just a few of my top tips for taking those first few steps in kick starting your career in software development.
The Dreaded Networking:
If you’re not already on there, set yourself up with a LinkedIn profile. Not only can you see what opportunities are out there but, this is one of the easiest ways for you to find and connect with relevant people in the industry.
Connect with companies you’re interested in and like/share/comment on their content to make yourself known. Join groups relevant to your field and start discussions; anything to get you noticed!
Attend conferences, hackathons and, anything else tech-related that shows you’re passionate about the industry and willing to use your own initiative to network.
Show Your Skills on gitHub:
Regardless of whether you think your projects are “cool” or not yet, even something as silly as Tic-Tac-Toe in Python will showcase your coding style, especially if you document it well – software companies love this.
Do remember, any work you do should always have the end user in mind. Cutting corners might seem like a good idea at the time but, you’ll make a better impression to potential employers if you can demonstrate you can make considered product decisions and, have a track record of following through and finishing your projects.
Utilise Your University’s [or College’s] Resources:
I came across Learning Pool’s (formerly HT2 Labs) internship opportunity via a subscription to my University’s tech-related job listings.
I researched the company, watched a handful of Ben’s videos and became immediately inspired by Learning Pool’s (formerly HT2 Labs) innovative solutions and overall mission.
Your advisors and university staff are there to help. It is more than likely that they’ll have a range of resources available – including, self-awareness tools, CV and cover letter templates and, interview preparations guides. All you have to do is ask!
More so than resources, your friends and peers who have participated in summer internships or placement years are an invaluable source of information and advice. If you’re extremely lucky, they might be able to give you a foot in the door with their employer or, simply offer some tips on how to impress them.
Apply, Apply, Apply:
This one might sound a bit obvious but, you’re never going to get anywhere unless you start actively looking for opportunities and applying for them. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t stop at one, or even two. Apply for as many as you come across, even the ones that might seem a little out of your reach. You never know which company is going to decide to take a chance on you or, decide that your skills and experience are a perfect fit for them.
Remember though, even if you’re applying for the same or similar positions, ensure that every CV, cover letter and application is personalised to the individual company you’re applying to. They like to know you want to work for them above anyone else.
Don’t Give Up:
It wasn’t until May, once my exams were over, that I came for my interview with Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs) and, within a week I had received an offer for the summer internship.
As students, while encouraged to experiment with our own projects, we inevitably spend the majority of our time on small-scale, individual programming. My exposure to HT2 (now Learning Pool) and their Learning Record Store, Learning Locker has been eye-opening and, has certainly encouraged me to pursue a career in software development.
The experience you can gain through work experience and internships is often invaluable. If you’d like to learn more about upcoming work experience opportunities at Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs) don’t hesitate to get in touch.