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I am a 17 year old student, about to head off to university and it is being constantly hammered into me that I need to gain some experience and show some initiative over my peers in looking for an internship. I genuinely have no idea how to even formulate a letter, my programming knowledge is minimal and the whole concept of writing a letter to someone saying why I should be part of their internship is absolutely daunting. I am enthusiastic and just being in a programming environment will be highly beneficial but actually producing a letter seems very difficult.

What should this letter entail if I have no experience or skills? Do I talk about my feeling and enthusiasm? If so how would I make that go on for a page?

closed as too broad by gnat, Jenny D, jcmeloni, mcknz, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 23 '15 at 19:00

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    You're better off learning about Github and how it works, doing some programming tutorials online (codeschool, codeacademy, treehouse, khanacademy, etc.), then start forking projects and contribute to the open source community to learn that way. Soon enough you'll help achieve great things in some projects and even develop some projects on your own. That is some relevant experience for any programmer/developer. It'll also help you outperform during your programming class at university. – Jeff Noel Jun 22 '15 at 18:31
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    What is your definition of inexperienced? Never written even a "hello world"? Or is it that you've not written something that wasn't in a book? Or is it that you just haven't done an internship yet? A company looking fir interns are not looking for experienced people, but they want some basic skills covered, like loops, methods, inheritance... – HorusKol Jun 22 '15 at 22:03
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    First step, proofread anything you write. – Myles Jun 22 '15 at 22:26
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    What is your degree in? and did your school not have any computing/it classes at all. – Pepone Jun 22 '15 at 22:51
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Unfortunately, without any skills or experience, you're of little value as an intern/employee. Even student jobs on campus will require you to have some competence before they put you to work. Many companies with internship programs require you to be at a certain point in your studies before they will consider you (for example, at the Junior or Senior level in a traditional 4-year Fr/Soph/Jr/Sr program).

Here's how to get some experience...

Pick a personal project to work on that interests you. Learn as you go.

Take a few classes that will give you some programming experience. Do well in them. Actually learn what they teach you, especially how to apply it to other problems than just what's on the test or in the assignments.

Once you know enough to not break someone else's systems, you might try volunteering in your community (you want them to be happy you're helping). You can help with some organization's website, for example. Or you can get paired up with whomever the organization goes to for their computer work, and learn from them, like an informal apprenticeship.

As you get more experience, and you get better at programming, you might also try contributing to an open source project. Doing so will give you more valuable experience in the forms of seeing how others design and write their software, working in a (remote) team, etc.

Taking these steps while you're getting your education will make you stand out when it comes time for the internships.

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Start with your university. Many have on campus jobs and they have a way for students to apply for these jobs. These may not be internship jobs but you can't beat working where you go to school.

The university and specifically your department/major should be able to help you find positions. Keep in mind that some employers won't consider you until you have completed your first year. But also remember that they fill these positions months in advance.

Look for job fairs at the university during the school year. Some universities also allow company to post job openings on the university site. The university will also be able to provide assistance with writing a resume.

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Internships are where you get experience. You just need semi-decent grades (not even good tbh). Within two years you're going to have way more programming knowledge comparable to your peers. Even asking this question now (at 17) is a good thing.

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