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Software Engineering and Computer Science Internships

Interested in breaking into the software engineering or computer science fields? Internships are a part of the process. At a certain stage in your education, an internship may be required, and your college or university may give you a hand in finding it. If you know early enough that you want to go into the software industry, though, you can jumpstart the process –and you may have the opportunity to work your way up to some prestigious positions.

Internships for High School Students

There are a limited number of internships available to high school students who are interested in computer science and software development. Generally, they require that students be at least sixteen. They are often limited to students in a particular geographic region.

John Deere Internship
Software Engineering Internships at John Deere

Microsoft invites high school interns at its main location in the Puget Sound region and also at the New England Research and Development Center (NERD). Students should submit a resume, essay, transcript, and letter of recommendation. Some programming experience is desirable, but it can be as simple as HTML or BASIC. Underrepresented populations (females, minorities, students from disadvantaged backgrounds) are particularly encouraged to apply. Microsoft notes that these experiences look good on a college application.

The San Diego Supercomputer High School and the National Institute of Science and Technology also offer internships. Sandia National Laboratories, which has institutes in cyber defense, computer science research, and modeling and simulation, takes on a limited number of high school interns. There are locations in California and New Mexico.

Virginia and Maryland students can apply for the National Space Scholars Program. Computer science is emphasized. The program is quite competitive and requires references from both an English teacher and a math, science, or computer teacher. Students fill out self-assessments regarding their interests and computer skills.

Internships for College Students

Once you begin your university studies, many new opportunities open up, some directly related to your career goals. Software companies don’t get too big to take on undergraduates – their future depends on attracting new talent. Even Google takes on bachelor’s and master’s students as interns in areas like product development, test engineering, and site reliability. The company notes that there’s quite a bit of responsibility granted. Test engineers, for example, don’t just sit and run test cases – they create test systems.

Quite a few tech companies made the Businessweek list of 50 Best Internships, and there’s a range – some companies are known for creating business applications, others for manufacturing transportation or defense items that have embedded software. Such internships can lead to job interviews down the road. Raytheon is reported to have extended job offers to 92% of its interns, Intel 58%, and IBM 50%.

Students who have special interests (or double majors) can find challenging internships in their niche. Walt Disney Animation Studios accepts software engineering and graphics software engineering interns. Gaming giants like Nickelodeon offer internships aimed at those interested in various stages of the software development process.

It’s not difficult to find an internship at the college level – some programs mandate it – but certain programs are more competitive than others. IBM offers a competitive internship program called Extreme Blue. Extreme Blue interns have worked on business solutions for key clients, developed numerous patents, and also made extensive contributions to Open Source software. Extreme Blue interns may be young, but they’ve already made “significant contributions” to team projects – that’s among the typical criteria. Extreme Blue values those who have undertaken complex projects including open source and shareware. What’s the lesson in this (besides that it’s great to start early)? The process doesn’t necessarily begin with formal internships. A student can start gaining valuable skills working on projects on his or her own, that will provide valuable experience to add to a resume.

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