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What to Look for in a Computer Science Internship

Posted on 09/08/2014

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I am heading into my senior year at CU Boulder and have been fortunate enough to have two computer science internships so far. Both of these experiences have been amazing and taught me so much, including what to look for when considering a computer science internship.

My first CS internship was here at Windward Studios the summer after my sophomore year. I am now returning to it after finishing my second internship at web conferencing services firm ReadyTalk, where I worked for nine weeks this past summer.

From my two internships, I have learned that there are definitely things that I will look for in any future internships and eventually any company that I consider for a career. The two most important aspects of an internship are:

  1. you actually get to develop software,
  2. you are taught principles of developing software and get to practice them.

Writing Software

Getting to write actual software is by far the most important part of an internship.

I have heard of plenty of people that are all excited about their newly acquired internship, and after a week they end up hating it. They hate it because they don’t actually get to develop anything, and they just spend time doing trivial tasks like running support all day or fixing bugs.

Sean Windward Motorcycle

Sean getting ready to head home after a busy day writing software at Windward.

The most valuable internships are the ones that are going to let you develop on the full stack. By this I mean the ones that have you do the research on the technology, write the code for every part of the software, write the tests, and finally deploy what you’ve built.

An internship that lets you do this is going to be more valuable to you than any internship where you spend the entire time bug fixing.

Learning Best Practices

While in school, we learn about all sorts of software practices and principles, but we never get the chance to really apply that knowledge and therefore never see the real value in them.

A good internship will not only teach you the best practices and principles but also really get you to apply them. For example, I was taught all about Agile Software Development and Test Driven Development, but never really understand how amazing they were until I used them every day at ReadyTalk.

There are all sorts of other things that can increase the quality of a computer science internship. But if you have the two aspects mentioned above, you’re going to enjoy and learn more than you could have possibly imagined.

Getting an Internship

Are you looking for a CS internship? Be sure to check out the internship and career opportunities here at Windward.

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Author: Sean Callahan

Sean is a development intern at Windward as well as a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is currently interested in Web-application development and has worked on various projects in that field. He takes every project he is involved in very seriously and always gives it his all. In his free time he enjoys playing video games with friends as well as getting outdoors. He also hopes to eventually get the opportunity to travel/work aboard before he graduates in the next year or two.

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