Over here at Uniqa Raiffeisen Software Service we are organising an internship program for this summer and because this year the interns will be working on the project I work on and I am going to be one of the 2 or 3 mentors, I had the opportunity to actively participate in the interviewing process and the selection of the candidates.
First of all, it is true that all beginnings are terribly hard, especially if you are in the first years of university and have no actual work experience. You might have done the mandatory exercises and projects and you’ve probably passed your exams with flying colours, but as far as I am concerned, this is just not enough. Especially if you have finished a specialisation other than Computer Science.
As I said before, it is not easy to start your career when you have no work experience yet, just an empty CV, but if you are passionate about development, you will do some things automatically that will give you a head start. For instance, you may buy a domain name and set up a custom e-mail address instead of giving us a gmail or yahoo address. This not only looks better in your CV, but also tells the interviewer that you have some knowledge in the field of domains and at least you know something about configuring DNS and DNS records. I know (from experience) that students never have enough money
for beer and stuff, but a domain name is around 10 USD per year, not the end of the world.
Moreover, if you already own a domain name, why not get a super cheap shared host and set up a basic website? At least a vCard with your contact details. In a next step you could turn that into an online portfolio to show off with your awesome side gigs, because if you are passionate about something, I would expect you to do more than the necessary exercises and micro-projects at the university. But even if you don’t, just put the source code of some small and interesting projects to GitHub or BitBucket and link them from your site. That will prove that you know how to use a version control tool and more importantly the technical interviewer can see your coding style.
I’m pretty sure that both sides made mistakes. Our mistake was that we decided the internship to be unpaid and you know… when you pay bananas, expect monkeys. The truth is that the talented candidates that I was expecting already do freelancing or work as junior developers and they do not need to participate in internships. However, our project is super cool and I’m pretty sure it will give a huge boost to the participants’ CV. Furthermore, we will accept only up to 5 interns, which means that we can pay attention to all of them and everybody will gain a lot of knowledge and experience in those two months.
To conclude, this interviewing process was quite disappointing for me, I was expecting more… a lot more! However, I’m still optimistic about our internship, as our project is quite exciting and I believe we managed to chose a few inters who will do a great job!