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Interning

(why is the Subject field in bold?)

I'm currently a 2nd-year student trying to pursue a degree in Information Systems (not quite there yet in terms of academic performance, but hoping to) and am looking at what I can do over the holidays (from May to July). One option that I've been considering is working as an intern.

There are several companies that I'm looking at, including Microsoft, Accenture, etc.

Is it worthwhile applying for an internship? Are the hiring practices/interviews very different from those that you'd get if you were applying for a job?

BTW, I should mention that I'm in Singapore, if that changes anything.

Damit
Monday, July 28, 2003

I am of the opinion that your school ought to require an internship as a condition of graduation. Mine does.

In any case, I highly recomend it. To start with, you get a real idea of what 'real world' work can be. People bitching on boards doesn't count ;)

In addition, it's good money. Around here, internships are paid rather commonly, and even low, low pay for tech work is more than you'll get cashiering 8-}.

Also, if you can keep the job afterwards (not *uncommon* at least, though I couldn't tell you if that's the norm), you can probably graduate with 2-3 years of experience in you field while fresh out of college. I think that looks good ;)

"Is it worthwhile?" What have you got to lose?

I don't really know how different hiring practices would be. You'll have to approach companies differently, but beyond that I don't think there's something obvious that'd be different.

Good luck!

Mike Swieton
Monday, July 28, 2003

MSFT doesn't waste time with anyone.  Interns are expected to produce results just like anyone else.  Think of your internship as an extended interview.  What better way to secure yourself a great fulltime position when you graduate?

If you do interview for an intern position, be prepared to talk about what your goals are, what you want to learn/contribute, etc.

After you've interned and you're interviewing for a FTE position, be prepared to talk about what you learned, what you'd do differently, and what contributions you made. 

It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how few people get it right.

frustrated interviewer
Monday, July 28, 2003

I've only had one experience with having someone for part of their Sandwich Course, the nearest thing to interning we probably have.  It was not a good experience, it was such a bad experience I'd probably not ever repeat it were I in a position to do so.

On the whole I'm not much interested in having students practice on my clients.  If I were an employer again, rather than a lone gun, then I would be interested in training people but they'd either be graduates or complete beginners, a second year student is just too dangerous to have around.

That isn't quite because they know enough to be dangerous, though that's true, but because they aren't likely to be committed.  At the end of their time they go back off to college, they aren't earning the money and working in quite the same way as someone for whom its their real job.

And that's the other reason, if someone is working for me I want to pay them the correct rate, if they're producing work which is as useful and valuable as some other regular employee then they should earn the same amount.  But that doesn't make economic sense, after a year I've probably lost whatever investment I've put into that person, for at a minimum a year and probably for good.

I used to think that work experience would be a good thing for both employer and employee, now I think its a waste of time for both.

Simon Lucy
Monday, July 28, 2003

I would throw a slightly different opinion.

Use an internship to explore other areas. It's always a risk free way of widening your experiences, and opening your mind to other options.

Check out the banks, the big legal firms, the management consultancies .... Most of them do have internship programs, plus they pay very well. (*grin* I remember getting stupid money, five star accomodation, a car, and a mobile phone when I did my internship /*grin*)

I am of the opinion that by the time you get to second year, you will at least have had *some* experience, even unpaid, in a real life corporation in your field.

An internship with a good name company, in an unrelated field, will always do you good. I think more and more the money is not in generic software development, but in domain or industry specific business apps, and if you can demonstrate having worked in a business environment, you can't go wrong.

Tapiwa
Monday, July 28, 2003

As a recent college graduate I found my internship experiences to be great fodder for interviews.  I had plenty of non-classroom specific discussions, and I found that my experiences elsewhere tied in relatively well with the companies I interviewed with.

That said, I was a bit abnormal in my internship route, I went on a co-op during the spring of my freshman year, and interned during my sophomore and junior summers.  Upon graduation a year ago the market was a  dog and most jobs were not paying well for a recent college graduate.  But I was able to draw on my co-op experience and find a contracting position doing the same work (Laboratory Information Management System implementation) at another company.  That allowed me to look for a full time position while I was a contractor and making decent money.

So even if it doesn't land you a job at that company, an internship may show its value in other ways.  And don't just limit yourself to MSFT and accenture, look at a wide range of opportunities.  Some programs at other companies are really quite good.  GE, AT&T, and others have excellent internship programs where results are expected and you are really another employee.

Lou
Monday, July 28, 2003

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