Software Development Internship Tips: How To Stand Out

One of the things we really enjoy in the engineering group at Datalogics is the opportunity to work with some very talented and special interns each summer. 2016 is no exception, and we’re thick in the middle of recruiting season. We always have many more students we’d like to take on than we do available positions, which inevitably means that we only get to work with a fraction of those students we’d like to get to know further.
There are obvious qualifiers, of course, for an internship in a software development organization: knowing how to write programs, facility with logic and math, and the ability to communicate with others are all given. What I want to write about, is how we winnow the great collection of applications who have all the foundational skills for and internship down to the small set we can ask to join us each summer. While it’s sometimes difficult to say exactly what draws us to our final set of candidates, here are some things that have led us to extend internships to some who’ve joined us in the past:

Natural curiousity and a desire to learn more about the world: don’t settle for accepting others’ explanations about why things are. We’re impressed by people who do their own research and come to their own conclusions. Use existing opinions and the accepted wisdom not as gospel, but as a starting point for your own explorations. Often, truly revolutionary thoughts come from challenging our basic assumptions about how the world is – or how the world has to be.
A broad set of interests and talents: true originality and breakthrough comes from synthesis of different ideas from different realms. Be strong in some areas and couple this with a broad base to draw bits and pieces from. This helps let one talk to, and learn from, those of many different interests and persusaions. A broad base gives common ground for working with many different types of people. Besides, you’ll need some hobbies to balance out the profession you’ll join soon enough.
A history of challenging one’s self: the years after college, before other things get in the way, are a great opportunity to try endeavors that may result in failure. Going for big things may mean leaving a big mark on the world; if it doesn’t work, at least it means some good stories and some valuable lessons. Success at everything one tries is not impressive – never failing simply means one isn’t ever growing.
Demonstrating a solid work ethic: we respect those who are working their way through school. Whether it’s a part-time job in the cafeteria during the school year, spending overnights supervising the computer lab, or painting pants and selling them on Etsy to pay for classes – learning how to juggle the competing needs of work and studies, and how to dig deep when both need one’s attention – helps one learn how to manage time and focus. Also, working for school helps to foster an appreciation of the opportunity it presents.
Pride in the things you’ve done: sure, some of your projects are going to be rather simple, and not all first jobs are glamourous. That’s OK – many things one has to do at work, or in life, may be relatively mundane. Those who take pride in doing a good job, even with the boring things, impress us greatly. People who can find a way to really leave a positive mark on others while working on something that may be simple or routine, they are the ones who are well positioned to really impress with how they carry out things that are exciting and novel also.
We’ve been extremely lucky to have worked with a number of inspiring, intelligent and impressive interns since we re-started our internship program in 2008, and we’re looking forward to meeting more awesome students this year.

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