Internships… The only thing that anyone seems to be talking about at the moment. If you don’t know already, you are required to do 800 practical hours throughout your engineering degree. This is typically done in two sets of 400 hours over the summer between your second and third year and your third and fourth year.
The cold and hard truth is that for many specialisations (Computer Systems very much included) nobody wants to hire second years. If you are studying electrical or computer systems engineering, you probably don’t know enough to be helpful in your field yet. That is just how the subject works. Luckily, software is the easiest subfield of engineering to get an internship in, and almost every specialisation knows something about software. This is why many second-year students end up in software roles even if their degree doesn’t quite match the job description.
Now, I have managed to somehow get an internship at Navico for this summer. So that makes me ‘experienced’, and now I am here to bless you with as many resources as I can.
If you are looking for a summer internship, there are a number of ways to go. Each of these have benefits and disadvantages, let’s talk about a few.
You can look for an internship in many of the places that you normally find jobs, i.e. Indeed, LinkedIn and SEEK.
But if you are interested in software roles (which you should be if you are considering Computer Systems Engineering), Summer of Tech is a great place to find an internship. They have several ‘stages’ to their program which you can read about on their website but to simplify: They offer workshops, networking events and then ‘speed interviews’ and finally an all-or-nothing ‘offer day’ sometime in October. They have a lot of internship opportunities from companies like ANZ and TradeMe so there is the possibility of some great positions! I didn’t personally go through Summer of Tech this year but I did go to some of their workshops and my friends are still hoping for an offer so I can endorse their ways!
The university isn’t completely leaving you to your own devices when finding an internship or permanent position. They have the Career Development and Employability Services (CDES) that provides CV/Resume checks, workshops and other networking opportunities. But most importantly for us, they have MyCDES+ which is a job board with lots of listings. I’m not sure if this compiles jobs from other websites or if companies have to post their jobs here but nevertheless it is a great resource. Definitely checkout MyCDES!
One last thing I have to mention is the UoA Summer Research Scholarship, with this you can spend your summer doing a research project for one of your lecturers (maybe)! This allows you to get experience in research if you are interested in doing postgraduate study but keep in mind you can only do one Summer Research Scholarship and if you are truly interested in research, it might be better to do it in your third year so it can lead into your 4th year project.
I feel like I’m pretty bad at interviews. I just talk about things I am passionate about and try to answer the questions as best I can. Some of my friends are really good at this and manage to talk themselves into much better internships. Try and go to some of the events run by various on-campus clubs for ‘speed interviews’ or ‘interview tips’ if you want to try and improve your skills.
For Navico, we had a day of interviews for people who made it to interviews. We had a technical group interview, a nontechnical group Q&A and then an individual interview. These were all on one day along with a little presentation from the CTO about Navico and its people. A week later, I waited nervously to hear the outcome and I received an offer. I applied for a LOT of internships so I was very glad to hear that!
What can I do NOW?
If you are looking for a software internship (e.g. you have realised that this is your only hope), start working on some projects. Web Development especially is useful. It might not seem the most exciting thing (you came to Computer Systems for C after all), but I promise you it is the most hireable thing you can do as a software engineer.
Go learn web development. You should join the Web Development Consulting Club (WDCC)! I am a project member working on the New Zealand Physics and Mathematics competition, and it is a great way to get involved in a web development project. Follow the page and look out for applications sometime at the start of the year!
Here are a few resources to learn more about web development if you are interested:
And that’s it from me on internships! It can be really stressful but not getting an internship is not the end of the world. I have heard of plenty of people counting hours from their graduate jobs, so don’t worry too much. And also, I have been quite the pessimist in this blog post but don’t think there aren’t any Computer Systems internships out there, third year appears quite bountiful. And hey, hopefully you’ll have better luck than me in 2nd year (not that I’m not VERY excited to be at Navico this summer).
Watch this space because I will have another two blog posts coming very soon!
Later nerds ♥,