This post was authored by Mohammad Syed, an alumni from our SoT2015 programme, where he got a tech internship at MPI. Mohammad is now working at Xero, where he is passionate about supporting more students to succeed through Summer of Tech. Here are his top tips for students preparing for Summer of Tech’s recruitment season. Find Part 1 here.
Don’t expect to be perfect. Making mistakes is normal, and a good opportunity to learn.
Employers know this is likely to be your first internship, so we know mistakes can happen. When they happen, own them and make an attempt to learn from it. Ask for feedback and talk through how you could approach things differently next time. Most companies that hire interns have safety nets built-in to catch those mistakes. Your team will be able to trust that you’ll ask for help, and it gives them an opportunity to teach you something new too.
I can remember exactly when a Production NAS was configured for 100 PB (Petabyte) data storage despite having 100 TB (Terabytes) of storage. I realised what I did, admitted it within minutes, worked with my manager to come up with a mitigation plan and implemented it within hours. The fix took about 50 hours to be done but during that time, there wasn’t any production outage. The outcome would have been very different if I didn’t spot my own mistake and own it.
One of my colleagues told me that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself to learn new things. Remember, no one is perfect, others in your team will also make mistakes and you can learn from those too.
Adopt the philosophy of continuous learning where you actively seek out opportunities to learn.
Come up with conversation starters.
It’s hard starting a conversation with potential employers at Meet and Greet. If you listen to the conversation for a bit first, you may pick up on something you’re familiar with, and can contribute to, or ask questions about. Then it’s just about finding the right moment to join the conversation!
You don’t always have to start off the conversation by saying something super witty or technical… remember we are all humans so a smile with a “Hello” can be just as effective as saying “I am Rawshark!”
I like the saying ‘most people listen to reply, instead we should listen to understand’. If you slow down just a bit, you can learn a lot. However, I am aware that it is easier said than done especially with the stress, fear and excitement all kicking in at various levels!
See where you are now (a student) and where you want to be (a graduate/intern) then make a plan with multiple paths for redundancies.
There’s no guarantee that life will give you a job that you love. However, what you can do is to take the job that life gives you as a first step in your career and ensure you’re taking the right steps to where you want to be.
It’s absolutely fine if you’re starting out and you don’t know what you want to do or feel a bit lost. My suggestion is to see if you can get a role where you can rotate within the company with different teams. That way, you can gain exposure to different career paths and figure out what you like to do. More importantly, it also helps you to figure out what you do not want to do. If you do what you enjoy doing as your job, you will mostly be happy with it and enjoy working. Remember, you will spend a significant amount of time at work and if you’re unhappy, it will have a large impact on your life. Take your time to explore different options and see what fits best with your needs.
Some people tend to focus on short term gains, while others focus on long term gains. I personally tend to choose the long term gain for a short term loss after doing an analysis of the gains/losses for both long and short term. Regardless of what decision you choose, as long as you make an informed one, that’s the one that counts.
Embrace the unknown and don’t be too scared of it.
IT is continuously evolving. 10 years ago, if you told the public that 16 Cores with 32 Threads would be considered mainstream, people won’t believe you. Fast forward to now and you can see the pace of technology!! Looking at software, you have AI/ML which didn’t exist 20 years ago. Who knows what the next 5 to 10 years will bring.
The only constant is change. So, why not accept that and embrace it knowing that you will learn from it and benefit yourself.
To start your journey to a paid summer tech internship, register for Summer of Tech here.