Internship, Resume

Advice for Getting a Programming/Development Internship

More of my friends at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have been asking me for advice on how to make a resume geared towards getting a development internship.  I haven’t seen any good resume advice for college students for landing an internship, so I decided to write one.  These are tips I have taught myself on how to get an internship at a software development company and advice I have received from fellow students and speakers at conferences such as Game Development Conference and Grace Hopper Conference.  Some of this advice can be generalized for getting internships.

1.  Resume – Your resume should sell yourself and not anyone else.  It can be creative or standard resume format.  Personally, I prefer a creative one as it represents more of who you are and greatly stands out from the rest of the resumes with standard format.  For an example of creative resumes, visit this page: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/creative-designer-resume-curriculum-vitae/ and also my resume page: http://rebeccavessal.com/resume/.  My creative resume has more of a newspaper format and a legible digital font.  I’m not saying you have to go super crazy about the design of your resume, but it can definitely help.  Feel free to borrow my format for resume if you like it.

Here is a breakdown of resume content that I have adhered to which has helped me get interviews at both small and big software development companies including Uncorked Studios, ThoughtWorks, Zynga, Microsoft, and Apple.  Your content should be organized in the order of significance.  If you have internship experience, place that before education.  If you don’t, then place education before experience.

  • Content:
    • Introduction
      • Name – Your name should have a bigger font size than any other heading in your resume and be in bold.
      • Contact Info
        • Email Address – Be sure to include your school email address if you are still in college and your personal one that is appropriate.  Your school email address indicates to the recruiter that you are currently enrolled in colleges and can immensely help you in your internship search as some internships only take in currently enrolled college students.  If you aren’t enrolled in school, then your personal email address should ideally include your full name.
        • Phone Number – Include a phone number that you can easily be contacted at during anytime during the day.  I have my cell phone number in my resume, because I always carry my cell phone around wherever I go.  You never know when recruiters may contact you to schedule the first interview, so it’s really important to have this phone number.
        • Address – This is debatable one.  I don’t have an address in my resume, because it takes up space in my resume and it’s not prevalent to most of the companies I apply to for internships.  The only reason I see putting your address on your resume to be important is if you know the company only hires interns locally or wants international students.  If this is your case, then you can put your permanent address and your local address on your resume as this will help you be prioritized in getting an interview over those who are not local or not international.
    • Education
      • School – State your school name, your major, and where your school is located.
      • GPA – State both your cumulative and cumulative core classes GPA.
      • Graduation Date – Your graduation date can serve as an advantage to other candidates if you are senior and thus graduating soon.  At a company standpoint, if you are graduating soon, then they can hire you on later for full-time and not have to spend more money and time to find more candidates for the job.  Most companies will hire you on as an intern if you are a 2nd to 4th year, but some companies prefer to take on only juniors and seniors.  Recruiters tend to not hire college freshmen for an internship, so you could state you are a 2nd year or 3rd year if you are a freshman and have such a status instead of a graduation date.  This can help you go beyond the boundaries that most college freshmen have to deal with in getting an internship.
    • Skills
      • Programming Languages – You should list your proficient programming languages in level of proficiency from highest to lowest.  Also be sure to list any programming languages you are familiar with, which means you are somewhat comfortable programming in the language but don’t feel very comfortable with that particular programming language syntax.  Even familiarity with a programming language could help you land an internship.
      • Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) – Your experience with an IDE a company lists on their internship posting conveys to the recruiter that you could hit the ground running without them having to train you in using their IDE.
      • Operating Systems (optional) – You don’t have to include this, but it may help in some internships where they state in the internship opening where they use a particular operating system such as Linux.
      • Graphics Programs (optional) – This is something you don’t necessarily need as a programmer, but it can show that you know the workflow of artists and can build programs that incorporate that and speak to artists in their own language too.
    • Projects
      • Now this is the most important piece of your resume along with your experience at other internships if you have any.  This should be your OMG this person has done some wicked projects in which they used skills crucial to the internship.  In other words, this is the delicious cake you are offering to recruiters.
      • Any projects you include in your resume should showcase your skills and include achievements that may or may not include numeric results.  By quantifying your achievement results, you give the recruiter a sense of how great  your achievements are.  You can tailor your resume by including projects that appeal to general software development companies or to specific ones.
      • Be sure to include personal projects under a separate heading if you have any.  This shows that you are truly passionate about what you are currently majoring in.  You can even list projects that you are currently working on and not completely finished.  Not a lot of people take on personal projects, so this alone may get you your ideal internship.
    • Experience
      • List your work and internship experience in order of importance to the internship and recency.  Listing any internship experience definitely gives you an advantage to those who don’t have any and should be listed first.  If you don’t have any internship experience, don’t worry about it.  Ideally, you should include work experience close to what the recruiters are looking for in their ideal intern, but any work experience should be fine.
      • Follow the same rules for projects.  For your jobs, list your achievements and numeric results.
    • Outside Interests
      • Include any clubs that are relevant to the internship and display your achievements and leadership roles.
    • Awards
      • Include any school awards, awards in general, and conferences you have gone to.   Not sure if this helped me get internships, but it does impress people in general.

So, this is part one of my advice for getting a development internship.  I need to go to my C++ class.  Subscribe to my website and like this post and comment on it, if you liked this advice.

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