How exactly does an internship experience make you more employable for industry? How does experience in developing your own startup compare to having an internship in terms of employability in the industry?
In the UK at the moment there is a real problem recruiting developers. salaries are going up and recruiting agencies are asking for 30% of salary to find people.
There seems to be a real shortage of developers, especially good ones. I know my company, it is also true everywhere where I have friends working, They are desperate to find people to hire and if you can produce good work that is all they care about.
If you can represent yourself as a normal human being in an interview and can show in technical test that you are competent then you will get hired, an internship won't matter either way.
How exactly does an internship enrich your experiences if you want to join industry
An internship provides:
- Limited but real-world experience in a business / industry
- Gives employers confidence that you have already been taught basic employment expectations (show up on time, take notes, attend meetings, etc.)
- Gives employers confidence that you know basic industry terms, issues, news, etc.
- Provides you with confidence that you want to continue in the same industry
- Provides you and the employer confidence that there is good chance you will actually like what you are doing as a full-time employee
- Exposure to tools and techniques that schools do not teach (or teach well)
what if you have experience in developing a startup of your own?
- Most of the list of the internship applies
- You are clearly a "self-starter" which can be a huge advantage in some settings
- An employer may feel like you will need less supervision
- You have not had experience with outside management, making the transition to being managed possibly more difficult
- You may require added supervision since you are not familiar with corporate policies and politics
- An employer may believe that traditional employment is not a good fit for you, and decide to interview other candidates
- You may have too much "entrepreneurial spirit" for an established company that is seeking candidates that need to conform to their rules and policies in order to be successful
- They may be concerned that your employment will be temporary, as you will likely continue to pursue your start-up efforts while employed (if possible)
- They may be concerned about your dedication to your employment since your start-up may continue to distract you after you are employed
- Your exposure to outside tools and techniques will be much more limited when they are self-selected by you and/or not present in your start-up.
Sometimes start-up experience is exactly what you need to get where you want to go. Sometimes it is the worst thing you can do because it generally is nothing like large, stable corporate environments that dominant many computer science related jobs.
Nearly all of these are temporary, as you navigate your career and make decisions based on available opportunities, the internship and/or start-up path will make less of a difference. However, the first couple of years in your career can make a huge difference in your career going the right direction in general.
Let me explain you from a recruiter's perspective.
Suppose, I am reviewing two candidates for a data science position in my team:
One has nice experience with a project during his internship. Another has a startup.
This is how I would gauge their fit:
- If the second guy's startup is anything other than an analytics one, then both would be gauged equally. By equally, I mean their personal projects and skill.
- If the second guy's startup is an analytics/ML one, I would be very interested to learn about it. So, he would be gauged by his experiences at running it, and the first guy would be gauged on his internship exp. and personal projects.
So, the fit would depend on a lot of factors like:
- Project done during your internship
- The startup domain of the person, and his experiences at running it
- Skill of both, when it comes to data and analytics tools
So, a good intern project/ a relevant startup experience <-- YES
Internships are by no means a requirement.
They are viewed as great experiences. Technology is a field where there is a shortage of developers however. Arguably, tech companies care more about cementing your interest in the company and the field than any skills or experience you get out of the internship. They are certainly most important as a recruitment tool.
I would view an internship as one of many possible inroads to join the industry. A computer science major is another, even without internship experience. A code boot camp is another. Doing lots of hackathons is another.
From a hiring manager perspective an internship doesn't matter AT ALL unless it is at my company or I have someone that I know and trust that knew of your work during your internship.
Let's be honest - internships are probably the least defined job at a company. And when an intern gets hired sometimes the hiring manager has time for them and sometimes they don't. Quite often the intern just ends up doing whatever they are good at - not the real job.
I have had interns that were crowned at my company as the "next thing"... said intern might wow a non-techie group with basic html skills or taking code from a known website.
And that is why I would not base 1% of my decision on hiring someone on an internship. I just have seen "interns" all over the place. Some do it for the career maximizing affect (like I give a crap about that when hiring a developer). And some do it to learn (I do care about this but have no proof of what they learned there).
If you want to work in industry, internships may open doors. A successful internship at a company may turn into a full-time job opportunity for you. Personally, it's also the chance to build experience in things that aren't part of your academic curriculum, network with other professionals in your field, and get exposed to working in one or more settings to see what you like and don't like. If you work toward performing against your expectations, you'll likely have an easier time in seeking full-time work, either with a company that you interned with (because they have some familiarity with your work) or with another company (because you have experience and references to back up your ability to work). In essence, you are less risky to a company because you have an internship.
Developing a startup of your own takes a different set of skills than being an individual contributor to a project team. If you are working toward creating a new project, then you should have a project to show. That could be valuable to a company. If your startup is a small team, you can perhaps speak to leadership and management topics in an interview. And if you end up monetizing your product, you could demonstrate sales and marketing experience.
The value of both depends on the company that you're working for. A large company where you would be working on a technical team and only possibly working with other groups may want to see more technical skills. Internships would stand out. A smaller company, where you would perhaps wear multiple hats, may like to see a startup or project that you started and how you managed and executed both technical and business sides.
Ultimately, it depends on what you're going for in your career path. However, startup experiences won't preclude you from getting a job in industry later and internships won't prevent you from launching your own startup. And having neither isn't a problem, but anyone with experiences would likely have a leg up on you.