I had the opportunity to interview three EduSource apprentices — Katya, Liz, and Wayne — to take back some information to my own students about internships. Here is what I learned:
How do you find the right internship?
Liz was specifically recommended to apply to EduSource via email for the owners’ connection to her college, Taylor University. This is when networking with your faculty and learning about what connections your network has is important! Katya was a little late to the game and didn’t know to apply to internships in the fall, so she applied to EduSource with a later deadline and was pleased to get the opportunity as a freshman. Her parents, both software engineers, encouraged her to pick a smaller company where she would get hands-on training in “how to research and solve problems.”
Both Katya and Liz chose EduSource for the chance to really learn and actually contribute to projects with real stakes. Liz recommends: “Look for places that are invested in investing in you.”
Wayne found out about EduSource through the sophomore internship program at IUPUI, through an email.
What differences should you get ready for?
Some things they had to get used to: the long hours! College students are used to taking a class, then having time to go back to the dorm for a rest or to the dining hall, then taking another class. It can take some getting used to to work a full day.
Another thing all three apprentices commented on is the difference between the individual, even competitive, atmosphere in college classes and the team environment in the workplace. Two of the interns I talked to were young women, who are a minority in the Computer Science field, but both of them had gotten used to that so it wasn’t an issue to navigate in their apprenticeship. Wayne was concerned that it would be a stressful environment, but was pleased to find out that that was not the case. He found that in an apprenticeship, he needed to learn how to structure the code properly, because “someone will be dependent on what I am doing.”
A few bits of advice from the apprentices:
- Apply widely in the fall semester.
- Write a cover letter.
- Be proactive and engaged in the interview.
- Ask questions.
- Be yourself.
- Learn how to strategically Google or crowdsource answers (for example, googling an error message and sifting through responses).
- Normalize asking for help — the folks training you want you to succeed.
- Be prepared to be flexible – this year internships were pushed back because of Covid-19, so the apprentices had to be resilient about their plans.
- Be careful of internships that want something out of you without actually teaching you a wide range of skills and problem solving.