Sunday, June 19, 2016

Successfully Getting That Awesome Internship

The Problem of Cookie Cutter Students
You don't know how many times I look at internship applicants from the same university and they all look the same.  They all took the same courses with the same projects.  After a while I can't tell if the only difference in the resumes is formatting and the name at the top.  When I am selecting a candidate, I want a person that stands out for all of the right reasons.  Obviously, the person has to have the skills or ability to quickly get the skills needed to execute in the area that we are focused.  However, ]if you look like all the other candidates from your school then you are leaving the decision of getting that lucrative internship to the whims of the selector.  If you are going to stand out then you have to understand what defines a standout.
What Defines a Standout
Employers from top companies want passionate employees who will find ways around obstacles.  Students that take initiative and have grit.  People who are creative problem solvers, driven to succeed and work as a team.  Great communicators that know the importance of listening.  
So you have got this laundry list of characteristics, but how do you demonstrate this?
How to Stand Out
You need to do extra side projects on your own in areas that you are interested in.   Take initiative by taking online courses and starting your own company.  I do not like hearing about how you are genuinely interested in computer vision, graphics, security, etc. but you didn't have the prerequisites, or the class was full, or the time slot was conflicting with your other core classes.  You have the Internet and it is the Golden Age of the Internet.  You can find almost anything to learn out there and if you can't find it you can connect with the people researching your area of interest to find ways to work together.
Find problems that need to be solved and then solve them.  Don't wait for the professor to give you an assignment.

Who knows, if the problem you solve is real, you may not need the internship after all.

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