I want a summer internship where I can code.
January 1, 2012 9:44 AM Subscribe
Can you give me advice on finding summer internships for a sophomore CS major?
posted by vogon_poet to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a sophomore at an "elite liberal arts college". We are not especially known for our CS department but it's good enough. I'm looking for jobs or internships this summer that will allow me to get practical experience and will help me find work in the future.
- Coursework: I've taken AP Computer Science, placed out of one college intro course and completed the other. Next semester I will be taking two courses: Data Structures and Algorithms and Computer Graphics.
- Work experience: I have worked several summers in a medical imaging (heavy math/cs focus) lab. I did a lot of programming for them, including designing and completing a fairly serious extension to their in-house software. Unfortunately, this work was mostly done in IDL, which is not a widely-used language outside of medical imaging and astronomy.
- Computer skills: I am competent in Java and unfortunately also IDL. I can use Unix. I understand the essentials of object-oriented programming (but have no knowledge of "design patterns"). I know basic Python, but in practice I've used it only for scripting. I have played with Scheme and worked through about half of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, enough to at least understand functional programming. I've also read through K&R, so I am at least familiar with C, but I am not experienced.
So what should I do? I don't feel that I have an especially strong background or set of skills. My options as I see them:
- I could apply for an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).
There are many of these programs at college campuses around the country. I would get paid to do serious work and possibly also attend lectures/classes. According to the career center at my school, many of these programs actually have trouble filling up their slots, so I would have a pretty good chance of finding a position. However, they are often in less-than-exciting locations. If possible, I would rather not spend my whole summer on a state university campus where I don't know anyone.
- I could also apply for Google Summer of Code.
I would be subsidized by Google to work on an open-source project. This has the same advantages as an REU, with the side benefit that I can work from home. However, I've heard it's extremely competitive. I am not certain that a sophomore with my skills and background could get accepted.
- I could also work part time while contributing to an open-source project (for free).
This sounds fun, and assuming I can stay focused it gives me much of the same experience, but if I don't get an "officially sanctioned" internship I think my parents would wail and scream. Plus, I don't know what to work on or where to start.
Do any of these strike you as especially good or bad options? Can you see any misconceptions? Am I missing any options?
I would also appreciate more general advice: how and in what areas to improve my skills, programs to apply to and projects to work on, how to get started in open source, etc.