re: We run several (successful) internships each year at our software consultancy, Ask Me Anything! VIEW POST

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_ How do you land an internship as a software developer? _

Counter-question: does Flat Iron help set you up with an internship toward the end of your program? (I cheated and looked at your profile). We get a number of interns that come through a Portland-based code school. We get to interview a bunch and rank our candidate preferences -- and they do some magic to assign interns to different companies. So, we don't get full say in some of those ones.

Having said that...if I were starting to explore an internship at that stage of a career, here is what I would approach this.

  1. Research ~5 companies that I would love an opportunity to intern at -- (while a job would be nice don't get attached to the idea of trying to land a full-time position, it'll only make it harder for both sides to consider this)

  2. Document what it is about their business (i.e., the type of projects they work on, the types of technology they're focused on, etc.) that you think would be valuable to be exposed to.

  3. Figure out if they've hosted developer internships before (and/or any internships). If they do it on the regular -- find out when they're next doing it and/or apply to an open internship position.

If they haven't -- this is your moment to propose something new to them.

  1. Figure out who is a lead/sr dev at the company... and try to figure out how to contact them directly. Follow them on Twitter if they tend to share thoughts on software/technology (if it's mostly personal -- maybe not)

  2. Write to said people, individually... with something along the lines of.

Hi Pat, my name is Jeremy; you don't know who I am.
{COMPANY} came across my radar the other day while researching companies that have been using Ruby on Rails for a number of years. As a budding jr. developer, I'm wrapping up at a coding school (Flat Iron) and am hoping to find a company that might be open to considering a ~ 8-week (paid and/or non-paid) internship with me. While I wasn't able to find any mention of internships on {company.com}, I was hoping you might be able to answer a few quick questions.

  • Are you aware of any similar companies that offer internships that I should reach out to?
  • Do you take on internships from time-to-time?

To be honest, you're on my shortlist of five companies that I'd love to gain some experience. Why? (...list off a few of the areas that you really think would be beneficial to)

Thanks a million,

Jeremy

A few key points.

  1. Narrow the scope of the commitment. If you mention this is ~8 weeks (or 4 or 6 or 10 weeks)... this gives them something tangible to consider. "Can we afford to do this for two months?" vs "Can we afford to do this?" Constraints can be really helpful for being open to an idea.

  2. Don't focus just on the technology, itself, as a reason to intern somewhere. I have a lot of interviews with jr. devs and if the main reason they want to work with us is that, "I love Ruby and your team uses it" ... that's not really saying anything unique about my company. What is it about the type of work that we do, the types of projects that we specialize in, etc... that makes you think you'd be a good (temporary) contributor to.

  3. Follow-up 2-3 days later, if they don't respond. "Hi, again! I'm sure you got a lot on your plate. I was curious if you could help point me in the right direction here." You're asking for some advice.

  4. Don't attach your resume and/or link to your portfolio at this point in time. Don't ask them to go read anything external. Save this for later on. Sending a resume -- is a quick way to get ignored. They got a lot on their plate, too.

  5. Be patience... but persistent. Keep nudging until you get a no! ;-)

...and then rinse; lather; and do that to another five companies.

 

Thank you for the awesome advice! To answer your counter-question, Flatiron doesn't place students in internships. They provide 1:1 interview prep and career coaching but they leave it to us to apply, and hopefully secure internships and/or jobs. I find it empowering. I like that if I want a career as a developer, it's up to me to make it happen.

That being said, I know how valuable advice is from people who have done what I'm trying to do, so thanks again. I'll definitely be referring back to this in a couple months!

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