Internship Insights: Paving Pathways in Software Engineering


Finding an Internship

ENGGEN 499, or Practical Work as it’s commonly known, is a key part of your journey to graduation, involving 800 hours of valuable practical experience. Not all 800 hours has to be strictly Software Engineering, but it should have some relevance to your specialisation. The recording of these hours are done through the “Practical Work Portal”, and by the end of your internship, you’ll also need to submit a fairly lengthy report summarising your experience. There is a format which you will need to follow, and it is graded. This can be daunting at first, especially if you encounter delays in securing an internship, or submitting your report, as it can potentially result in a delayed graduation. Therefore, I hope I can help demystify the process at least a little – as I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds! Let’s get started!

When it comes to internships, most Software students tend to find opportunities primarily in New Zealand and Australia. However, some adventurous souls venture even further abroad. With regards to New Zealand and Australia, you’ll notice:

New Zealand Australia
  • Applications open and end during the middle of the year, around June – September.
  • Technical interviews are less common.
  • Generally, lower pay.
  • Applications open and end at the beginning of the year, around February – March.
  • Mostly accessible to only penultimate students.
  • Technical interviews are common.
  • Generally, higher pay.

One thing else I would like to add is that, while the general recommendation is to undertake two full-time internships at the conclusion of Part II and Part III, there are also people who choose to accumulate their practical hours by working a few hours each week throughout the year, or a combination of both.

Below, I’ve outlined a few platforms that people have successfully used to find internships:

(1) Prosple & Seek

  • Sites: Prosple & Seek
  • 2023 Application Opened: Throughout the year
  • Locations: Global

Let’s begin with the “job-seeking” sites. Prosple is primarily focused on internships and can be quite useful. You’ll find numerous companies to explore, and it conveniently provides application links. Have a look through it once in a while, as it does update frequently! This is probably the most common method!

(2) Google Step Internship

  • General Site: Google Step
  • 2023 Application Opened: February
  • Locations: Sydney, Australia

The Google Step programme is designed to target first and second years. Applications for it open at the beginning of the year. ENGGEN 131 alone is insufficient for you to make it through – as there will be technical questions and concepts that you simply will not have covered. From what I’ve heard, it’s a really good opportunity – but it is more suited for those with a fair bit more experience. If this is something you want to go for, platforms like LeetCode and HackerRank may give you an idea of what kinds of questions to expect in technical interviews.

(3) Summer of Tech

  • Site: Summer of Tech
  • 2023 Application Opened: Applications for various events are scattered throughout the year.
  • Locations: New Zealand

Summer of Tech requires you to setup a profile on their site. This profile will need to be verified, which can take time – therefore you are encouraged to set this up early. They do have a rather strange CV format which you will need to adhere to – as such, you’ll find that you’ll have to make one CV for Summer of Tech, and another for everything else. Although there will be opportunities throughout the year, “Internship Season” generally commences around September, which will be outlined by the SoT team at the start of the year (as indicated on the right). If you perform well during the Meet & Greets and Speed Interviews, you will progress further through the interviewing stages, and eventually receive an internship offer by one of the many companies associated with SoT.

(4) Microsoft Accelerator

MSA consists of two main phases. In phase one, you can choose between two pathways, Software Engineering or Data Science. During the first semester, you will engage in an online course specific to your selected pathway. In phase two, you will be tasked with completing a project that aligns with the skills you acquired in your chosen pathway. Think of it as a project-based assignment. Both phases span about 6 weeks. Depending on the quality of your work, an interview + internship may come your way. MSA is a bit tougher to secure an internship however – as not many are on offer.

(5) UoA Summer Research Scholarship

Summer Research Scholarships also provide a fantastic avenue to boost your practical experience. Just like internships, these scholarships account for 400 hours of practical work. Furthermore, you’ll receive a tax-free stipend of $6,750. The process involves applying for a project that aligns with your interests, and if selected, you’ll have the opportunity to work on that project throughout the summer with your supervisor. One thing to note is that you can only have one Summer Research Scholarship count towards your practical hours.

(6) Other

It goes without saying that internships are available from more than just the aforementioned sources. Take some time to explore different avenues and discover opportunities that align with your interests! Remember, the Career’s Expo provides an excellent platform for discovering potential companies to apply to!

Additionally, one other thing I’d like to touch on is that, you may also come across certain companies that provide “Accelerators” such as the IMC Launchpad and Optiver’s Future Focus. Usually, they are 2-3 day events which give you a taste of the culture at those companies. These events are selective, but if you manage to secure a spot, they often enable you to bypass several stages of the interview process for an internship should you apply. Participating in these accelerators also tends to be a valuable experience.

To conclude, while I haven’t provided extensive details for each avenue, I hope this outline gives you a general idea of the various opportunities available in part II!

Internship Advice

While I don’t consider myself fully qualified to offer advice, I’d still like to share some insights I’ve gathered from industry professionals and current students in Parts III and IV:

(1) Start Early

Starting early is a piece of advice you’ll hear everywhere – it’s practically a rite of passage for many. Earlier in the year, you will have wanted to:

  • Type up your CV, keep it to 1 page, at most 2, and 
  • Set up your LinkedIn account.

The university offers a handy online CV-checking tool, but like most automated tools, use your best judgement. Initially, your CV might feel a bit sparse, but don’t worry! You’ll be continuously updating and refining it throughout the year, making it “production ready” for when you start applying. Although you may not necessarily feel fully prepared at the beginning of the year, exploring internship opportunities will help you get into the right mindset moving forwards.

(2) Apply Widely & Appreciate Rejection

Don’t limit yourself when applying for internships. Even if you don’t feel like a perfect match, let employers make the decision to reject you, rather than rejecting yourself prematurely. 

Allow yourself to be rejected. Understand it is never a personal attack on your character. Sometimes you will feel inadequate, but always remember that the best path forward is to treat those moments as opportunities to learn and improve!

(3) Be Confident

Remember to believe in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t, it’s hard for others to do the same. Your confidence will inspire confidence in others. It isn’t rare for both industry and academia to exhibit elements of nepotistic behaviour. A little networking and making a positive impression can take you far. However, remember that competence remains crucial. So, as long as you consistently invest time and energy, your progress will be a reflection of your unwavering commitment.

The process of finding an internship can be both stressful and gruelling; however, it is an experience worth having. I hope this has been worth your time.
 À la prochaine fois!

– Victor

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