CS Internship Guide #9: Choosing An Internship

Part of the CS Internship Guide


Congratulations! You’ve received internship offers from multiple companies. Which will you choose? If you’re like me, you might swing back and forth between options and have a difficult time deciding. But don’t worry, you’re only interning there for the summer, not the next 20 years. So if you’re having trouble choosing, consider the following factors.

Type of work

What will you be working on at your internship? Will you be collaborating on a massive project or hacking out concepts solo? Will you be writing unit tests or developing new features? None are inherently better, but you might prefer one over the other. Additionally, some technologies may open more doors than others during your post-graduation job search (I don’t know many companies looking for Visual Basic developers).

Compensation

Though everyone likes dollar bills, the company that pays the most cash is not always the best option. Does the company provide housing and transportation? Keep in mind the cost of living in their city, too.

Also, never take an unpaid internship. If you’re a computer science student, any real company would be willing to pay you good money ($15-$40 an hour or more).

Location

If you’re dead-set on certain areas of the world, you can narrow your choices. However, I wouldn’t cross off certain companies just because you might not like the location. Summer internships are a great way to test out living in a new city.

Company Size

Small and large companies have different advantages. Interning at a new startup will put a wide range of responsibilities on your shoulders. Large corporations can have huge internship programs and nice perks (such as paid housing and free snacks), but your contributions may have less of an impact on the final product.

Also consider the:

  • Industry (Retail, Healthcare, Finance, etc.)
  • Company’s reputation (internships at places like Google open more doors than lesser-known companies)
  • Company culture (more formal or more casual?)

Talking to recruiters might help, but few employees highlight the negatives of their company. Oftentimes you can ask other students if they’ve interned at certain companies. Almost everyone is happy to tell you about their internship experiences. And don’t forget that your favorite search engine is always available with more information.

In the end, your summer internship will be your decision. Don’t stress over it. You’ll learn a terrific amount no matter where you go.

What factors do you consider the most important when selecting a job or internship?

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