To intern or not to intern

What should engg. students do in their vacations?

A student comes across multiple options as to how to spend their vacations in the most productive manner. And it often leads to a lot of confusion and indecisiveness in their minds. Should I look out for an internship? Should I do open source? Should I complete that course? Should I work on a research paper? What to do?

know what you want and where you are

The first step in this process is to know what you want out of your college career. Do you plan to pursue a postgraduate degree or do you want to get a job? When you have decided this, evaluate where you stand and do it honestly. Know what your reality is. Do you have any backlogs? Do you have a good CGPA? If not, first work on those and get them out of the scene. No good postgrad college or company will take you in if you fail college. And do not use Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg as an excuse that they were college dropouts.

when you want a job

  1. Interview Eligibility
    Before doing anything extra for your profile, find out what the CGPA criteria of companies are. Failing in college and having extra accolades will not help you in any way. If you do not yet satisfy the CGPA criteria of companies, work on that first.

  2. Employable skills
    Absolutely nothing is going to count if you cannot clear interviews. Work on the core dev skills and strengthen them. You need to be a Master of DS and Algo or Product Development to be able to crack technical interviews.

  3. Prepping for interviews
    Now that you satisfy the eligibility criteria and have sound technical knowledge, start preparing for interviews. This basically means working on your soft skills and communication and practicing technical questions and programs.

When you have finished all of these steps, start looking out for internships actively. Remember that every company wants to make a profit, and no good company is going to give you a chance if you do not already satisfy their requirements.

Here's something that will help you in the process.

internships vs projects

An internship experience is always better than a project. To be honest, you should have done projects during learning itself. A good internship is proof that you have worked in an enterprise environment. Make sure that you go for internships that challenge you, which teach you something and make you do some real, significant work. When you already have had 1 or 2 internship experiences, do not go for another similar internship, it won't add much value to your profile. Only when you are unable to get an internship at any good company, spend your vacation making an extremely good project.

no open source then?

Go for open source when you have had enough industry exposure. And let me tell you, GSoC is not the only way to do open source. Scout on Twitter and LinkedIn what some good open source projects are, who maintains them, and then go, write some useful code and get your PRs accepted.

are courses useful?

Yes, courses are useful, but not the certificates. Ensure that your motive behind doing a course is to get knowledge out of it and not just a certificate. While selecting a course, go for the ones that you can make projects out of, and always remember that certificates do not matter if you do not have the skills.

when you want a Masters degree

The first thing that any good postgrad college cares about is an excellent CGPA, nothing else. Then you need to move on to exam prep, your GRE, CAT, GMAT, etc. Rather than spending your time coding, work on a research paper relevant to your field. Having a published research paper astronomically increases your chances of getting into a good postgrad college. Work on your LOR with a reliable professor. When you have checked all these boxes, go for industry experience.

till next time

The inspiration behind this newsletter issue is the video Internships or not? that I posted on YouTube some months ago. Check it out for more details and do remember to drop a like!

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