As a freshman or sophomore software engineering student, it’s hard to land an internship. Luckily, a lot of the major tech companies have internships specifically designed for first and second-year students.
These companies realize it can be hard to get an internship with no industry experience. Their programs are designed to introduce you to the world of software engineering, provide hands-on project experience, and give valuable mentorship opportunities. Here are 5 internships for software engineering students with no experience.
1. Microsoft Explore
About: Microsoft Explore is a 12-week summer internship specifically designed for first and second-year college students. In the program, you rotate through various software engineering roles and work on a small team to complete projects designed to give you real-world experience.
Pay: $33-34/hour + housing and transportation stipends depending on location
Location: Most Microsoft Explore internships take place in Redmond and Bellevue, Washington.
Qualifications: To be eligible for Microsoft Explore:
- Students must be in their first or second year of their bachelor’s degree and must be enrolled in a college in the US, Canada, or Mexico.
- The internship is intended for students majoring in computer/software engineering, computer science, or a related degree. However, the only education requirement is that you complete an Introduction to Computer Science course and one semester of calculus before the start of the program (so you can even apply if you haven’t declared a major yet!).
- Students in minority groups are encouraged to apply.
Beyond that, you don’t need to have any experience. Unlike Microsoft’s other programs, they specifically designed this internship for young engineers with no experience.
About the application process: Applications open in August and after you apply, you must pass two interviews to get accepted. The first interview is a phone interview where they ask you about your resume and ask standard behavioral questions. At most, they will ask one easy technical question (such as an array question). The second and final interview is a technical interview. You can expect basic string manipulation and array questions. Nothing too crazy. Remember, they realize the internship is for beginners. Typically, interviews take place in the fall and they send offers out in December.
2. Google’s STEP
About: Google STEP is an internship designed for first and second-year computer science (or similar major) students. The internship is a 12-week summer program and you have the option to work from May-August or June-September, depending on your school schedule. In the program, you will develop your technical skills, gain project experience, and will receive mentorship from Google engineers.
Pay: $43-$45/hour + $9,000 upfront as a housing stipend.
Qualifications: To be eligible for Google STEP:
- You must be a first or second-year college student in North America majoring in computer science or a related field.
- If you’re a freshman, you need to have completed at least one college-level computer science course (AP/IB meets requirements).
- If you’re a sophomore, you must have completed two or more college computer science courses.
About the application process: For Google STEP, there are two separate applications, one for freshmen and one for sophomores. Both require two interviews, both technical. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to get an interview. The primary differences are the difficulty of questions (easier for freshmen, more involved for sophomores), and the timeline. Freshman applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and interviews are scheduled starting in December. Sophomore applications and interviews occur on a rolling basis until the program is full.
The interviewer will typically let you choose what language you interview in, but if it’s on your resume, it’s fair game. The categories of questions for the interviews are: math, operating systems and concepts, algorithms, and data structures. Freshmen should focus on string manipulation, arrays, and lists. Sophomores are expected to know more. While the interviews are technical, you should also be prepared for some behavioral questions as well.
3. Meta University
About: Meta University is a 10-week paid summer internship program for first and second-year college students in North America. In the internship, you receive technical training, hands-on projects, and mentorship. There are three routes to choose from: engineering, analytics, and product design.
Pay: Varies but can expect anywhere from $30-$50/hour + housing stipend
Qualifications: To be eligible for Metal University:
- Applicants must be in their first or second year of college and must be enrolled in a college in North America.
- Applicants must submit their resumes, and both their high school and college transcripts.
About the application process: Applications are typically open from August to October and are rolling. They typically give offers in December. Upon applying, engineering interns are given a 70-minute coding challenge on CodeSignal to complete on their own time. It is reviewed with your application, and if you move forward, a 30-minute non-technical interview will be scheduled. Pro tip: you can take practice tests of CodeSignal to help prepare for the coding assessment.
4. Twitter Academy
About: Twitter Academy is a 12-week summer internship designed for second-year computer science students. The program is aimed at students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM (black, Hispanic/Latinx, or Native American). In the program, you will gain hands-on work experience and mentorship.
Pay: $35-$55/hour + housing stipend (might differ to due Twitter internships going remote)
Qualifications: To be eligible for Twitter academy:
- Applicants must be second-year computer science students currently enrolled in university.
- The program has a huge emphasis on diversity and Twitter prefers their applicants for this internship to fall into a minority (black, Hispanic/Latinx, or Native American).
About the application process: Twitter University is extremely competitive compared to its counterparts. The application process is similar to Meta where applicants are given a timed coding assessment and interviews based on the assessment and their application.
5. Google Summer of Code
About: Google summer of code is technically not an internship. That being said, it is still a great experience. In this 12-week program, you are not working for google, but are working as an individual contributor on google projects. The goal of the program is to bring new developers into open source. Open source skills are great to have on your resume. In this program, you’ll get hand-on experience, mentorship, and the ability to grow your network.
Pay: $1500-$3300 Stipend
Qualifications: Applicants must be 18 or older and is open to everyone, not just students.
About the application process: The application process for Google Summer of Code is unique. Rather than a formal interview process, Google will post its available projects and you have to submit a proposal for the project. The process consists of three steps:
- Select an Organization: The first step in the application process is to select an organization. You can filter the organizations based on the skills you already have and the skills you want to learn.
- Select a Project: Once you pick your organization, find a project within it that excited you. Make sure you understand the project and what can be improved/what you can add to it. Since it’s open source, you can usually find a community channel for the project (slack, discord, etc.) to ask questions in and get a better sense of the project.
- Submit a proposal: The final step is to submit your proposal for review. Check out Google’s outline for what is expected in a proposal and examples of good proposals.
- Apply early: With any internship, the earlier you apply, the better. The sooner you apply, the sooner your application will be read. This is especially important since most of these internships accept interns on a rolling basis. Still, it can never hurt to apply for internships early, even if they have a set deadline.
- Don’t freak out over technical interviews: technical interviews can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done one before. Practice basic problems, but at the end of the day, cramming random information the night before isn’t going to help you. You’re either going to know it or you’re not.
- Talk through your problem-solving: In a technical interview, it’s important to talk through your process. Even if you’re certain you know how to solve the problem, walk the interviewer through what you’re doing before you start. Not only does it show great communication skills, but it can also help you if you get stuck. Interviewers don’t expect you to solve every problem perfectly. It’s more important for them to understand your thought process and how you go about solving problems.
- Don’t underestimate the non-technical part of the interview: The non-technical part of the interview can be just as important as the technical part. Perfect your elevator pitch, be able to speak to everything on your resume, and practice answers to common behavioral interview questions.