This post is primarily about what to think about when choosing an internship, but applies to considering applying to any role whether it’s your first or your next job:
At Summer of Tech, we want students to make informed decisions when choosing their next role. One of our goals is to help students work through how to make themselves more attractive to multiple employers. The best possible scenario is having to choose between multiple offers at recruitment time. It’s also a stressful scenario!
We know this approach has been successful for both students and employers as our “on-hire” rate has increased to 80%.
PSSST, Employers!: This is what we talk to students about. This should also be a guide as what the things that students are thinking about and will help you prepare a great experience at your organisation.
As a student, how do you choose?
Below are ten things to consider when choosing a role. We recommend for each role you are considering you make a list (with bullet points) or a spreadsheet (if you’re that way inclined) and work through each of the items. Then talk to someone you trust about it. Or come to one of our Office Hours sessions to talk to one of Summer of Tech’s advisors.
The job itself
What is the role? Is it aligned to what you have been studying? Think about if the role is what you really want to do. Are you interested in that type of work?
Sometimes the role will require you do multiple things, e.g. Dev and QA, or Design and Dev. What will you gain from this job?
One important thing to consider: do you understand what you need to do to be successful in the role?
Who are you working with? Are there awesome people in the teams? (Do any of the people participate in industry events?) What are the teams like? What is the makeup of the teams? Does the team have all the people in the right roles to succeed? e.g. does the team have a Product Owner/project sponsor, are the Design or QA functions in place?
Do you have a mentor assigned? Have you spoken with them? Do you know how often you are going to catch up? Are they someone you’ll get on with? Will you get the right support to succeed?
What type of training will you receive? Do they have a prescribed on-boarding programme for interns or grads?
Remember most training is self-learning and you will need to ask lots questions and get feedback on how you are going.
What are the things are you going to learn by the end of the internship?
What tools will you use in your role? Are these the standard tools of your domain or industry? Are there experts in these tools at the organisation?
What’s the employer about? What are they trying to do? Are you interested in that domain? What type of organisation are they? (A startup, an established company, a government department or a charity – all of these are possible in Summer of Tech, and they all have different needs and experiences on offer.)
What’s the culture of the company? What do they value?
Find out as much as you can online or talk to the current employees about what it’s like working there. Some of NZ tech employers are reviewed on Glassdoor which is an online forum where employees share views of their employer. (There can be good and bad there, so it’s important to understand if the problems still exist.)
What is the work environment like? What is the office like? What are the “perks” like? What does the company social side look like (if that’s important to you)? Do they offer flexibility? i.e. could you work from home once you have proven your worth?
Short-term career goals (1-2 years)
Does the employer have opportunities at the end of the internship? What’s their “on-hire” rate? (how many of their interns or grads get retained?)
How does the role factor into your short-term career goals? Does the role help you become a developer, designer, Dev Ops, security analyst or whatever you want to be? Think about what else you’ll learn at the role to help you achieve your career goals.
Long-term career goals (3-5 years)
Does the employer have the roles that you aspire to? Senior Dev roles or senior design roles etc?
Are there career development opportunities there? Do they train and promote from within?
I’ve put money last, on purpose. Money is an important consideration, but it’s not the most important. A lot of students make decisions to work in their preferred job for less money than offered elsewhere. Why? Because the other factors are more important to them.
All of the SoT employers have been briefed on our recommended minimum wage, which is NZ Living Wage ($20.20 per hour). They know that our average wage in 2016 was of $24 per hour. It’s a competitive market, so employers will try and pay fairly. If you have previous experience then it does factor into what they may offer.
Remember: interns are a HUGE cost to a company, and most of that cost is not your wages. It’s the wages, time & resource of their senior staff who will be mentoring, supervising, training and supporting you before & during your internship.
We don’t recommend that you negotiate your internship wage, and we DEFINITELY don’t recommend that you play employers off for more pay. It’s better to earn their respect by doing a great job and then you have the leverage to ask for more pay.
The best time to ask for a pay-rise is at the end of your internship, when you can point to your 3 months’ awesome work, and how it’s added value to the organisation!
That’s a lot to think about. It’s about not just about the money or whether an organisation will look good on your CV. Everyone is different, it’s about finding the right role for you. Some of these aspects will be more important for you than others. Figure out what information you need help you make a decision and then ask the employer for the answers. All of the employers want to help you make a decision that is right for you.
Finally, if you have any questions, send a direct message to our team, or come to one of the Office Hours sessions.