I am a sophomore computer science major and I plan on only taking three years to graduate. Consequently, I have a limited amount of time augment my experience and resume. I came into computer science with incredibly limited experience but was able to land a paid summer research position at my university’s genetic/bioinformatics department. They had me doing some coding and general website maintenance. Although I learned a lot from this job, it was not challenging.

Roughly four months ago I started part time at an engineering firm with twice the pay of what I was making at the research position. This job will carry through the summer and most students get invited back to continue on the part time portion during the following school year. I do not know of a better paying part time job that a college student could get other than my current one. Also, the experience is incredible and I am being challenged daily along with actually having a job where I contribute, unlike some internships. However, this will only leave me with two references: the university job and my current engineering firm employer.

Will I be lacking in my number of references by the time I’m finished with my degree?

Not sure how much this matters but I will have roughly $30k in student loans upon graduating. I plan on living with my parents for a year in hopes of paying off the loan quickly.

  • Get two references from the same company and one from from someone at your university, and the number of references goes up to three. Are you the one who told yourself that you can get only one reference per company? – Vietnhi Phuvan Mar 20 '15 at 10:17
  • References for what? Companies don't rely on references for university hires, and graduate schools generally don't care about industry references. – Bowen Mar 20 '15 at 20:28
  • @Bowen References for university hires. How would they know if someone wasn't lying if they don't check references? – TenaciousZ Mar 21 '15 at 1:18
  • Many people won't have work experience so university references are not that useful. For engineering they probably thoroughly interviewed you technically, where lying is not really possible. In any case, I would focus on what sleske said in his interview and worry more about your own goals than references. – Bowen Mar 21 '15 at 22:00
  • the answer is higher quality internships where they train you to both do the job and to work in the real world. One of those is better than 100 punch the clock and get credit internships – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 23 '15 at 17:53

I think this is the wrong question to ask.

The question to ask is: What do I want to gain from the internships?

The rest should follow from the answer to that question.

For example:

  • If you are not certain what area you want to work in, then having many short internships in different areas might be a good idea.
  • On the other hand, if you already know what your dream job is, just having one or two internships in that area may make sense to get an early start.

Also, there's no need to make a "big decision" right now. Take the internship that works best for you now (taking the future into account), and after a few weeks/months, re-evaluate whether this is still the right internship for you (or if you want another one like this, if the internship is already over).

As to your employment chances:

Different employers value different qualities, and this also goes for internships. Some may want to see you have experience in different areas and are flexible (=many internships), some may want to see the ability for deep learning and seeing a project through to the finish (=longer internships). Some even don't particularly care about internships, as long as you demonstrate the abilities they need in another way.

At any rate, I don't think any competent employer will have a requirement like "needs at least three different internships to qualify".


Find your personal goals, then do what works best for reaching them, and don't worry too much about details like the exact lenght or number of interships.

Good luck!

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  • The two bulleted points spoke to me. I'm not yet sure what my dream job is. However, I go to school in a small "college town" and any internship that I got would be very similar to my research position. Thanks for a great response! – TenaciousZ Mar 20 '15 at 13:59

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