Secret to a Great Internship

I’ve just started the final year of my Data Science degree, and already I have accumulated one entire year of industry experience before I even graduate. How…? Internships. 

The number one question I’m faced with when speaking to any Computer Science undergraduates is always “Lily… How do you get an internship?” I guess I’m particularly qualified to answer that now, considering I just completed my third internship with Intel. My first two were 3-month long software engineering internships during the summers of 1st and 2nd Year. Most recently, I completed 6 months as a Data Science Intern for my 3rd Year placement.

Personally, I took a rather unusual route to securing my latest internship. Because I had previously completed two internships with Intel, my recruitment evaluation was based on my performance during those previous internships.

But initially, I got my start through the Intel Women In Technology Scholarship program. The interview process for that is somewhat similar to Intel’s internship recruitment process. Every company looks for a CV that stands out. A resume that shows either 1) Technical Experience or 2) Technical Ability. Ideally, you should aim to have both.

My number one piece of advice to undergrads hoping to secure internships is always simple- apply. It sounds ridiculous, but the first step towards success is placing yourself into contention. Actually take the time to fill out applications, and aim high. Don’t be afraid to apply to companies and positions you feel underqualified for, trust that the recruiters know what they’re doing, they won’t hire you into a role unless they’re sure you have the ability to fill it.

Once your CV starts to grab attention, that’s when the fine art of technical interviews become important. The key to these is preparation. There are so many resources out there, make sure you use them all. There’s books, such as ‘Cracking The Coding Interview’, but there’s also millions of videos available free on YouTube outlining the interview process and popular common questions. Your knowledge of Data Structures and Algorithms are the main thing examined in many technical interviews, so be sure to brush up on them!

As for my own internship experience, the day to day work varied greatly in Intel. One of my favorite things about the company is the responsibility it gives interns. You really get to make an impact, contributing to real projects that matter and reaching customers. I was part of a team with 8 other engineers, and our work focused mainly on Data Centre Networking and Virtualization. My own role was in a data science network analytics context. My daily tasks usually involved scripting in Bash to handle and pre-process data, before performing analysis and using Machine Learning through Python.

The other significant project I was involved in during my internship is the Intern STEM Challenge. Essentially, it’s a start-up style competition where the interns onsite are divided into 5 teams of 5. We’re given a Raspberry Pi development board, 9 weeks, and a budget. This year, we had to create a product to improve the quality of life in an office environment. This was in addition to our normal hired roles, and was an incredibly opportunity to expand our skill sets as technology professionals.

Like many tech companies, the atmosphere at Intel is very fun and friendly. There was always plenty of exciting things going on, be it Foosball, Xbox, Tag Rugby, American Football, Yoga classes, Formula 1 VR, it was nonstop. Overall, between the work and the company itself, I couldn’t be happier with how my internship went. I really enjoyed my time with Intel, and as always, I cannot stress enough how valuable industry experience is!