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  • Cheryl Wu, MD

How to Get an Internship - Max Li

My name is Max and I am a Computer Engineering student at the University of Michigan. As a second year student I landed an internship at Viasat Inc., which is a communications company based near San Diego, CA. Here are some tips for getting an internship as an engineering college student, based on my experience going through the process.

First, you need to focus on being involved in non-academic experiences. A high GPA by itself is not impressive enough to impress companies, because they are looking for real-world experience. Research teams and project design teams at universities help to simulate these experiences. I joined the Mars Rover design team at the University of Michigan, which not only helped develop specific technical skills but also familiarized me with the logistics of an efficient engineering team. You should still work hard to keep your GPA above 3.2, but it is completely worth it to reduce studying time to instead involve yourself in non-academic learning experiences. Quality is better than quantity, especially since being more involved in one team will allow you to be promoted to higher positions in that team later on.

Career fair season is when most internships will start to be handed out. When the catalog of companies coming to your university’s career fair is released, read through it and find 5 companies that you are interested in interning at. Usually there will be a way to filter which companies are looking for internships of your year (first-year, second-year, etc.). Then, make sure you go to the career fair as early as possible to go to your selected companies’ booths. This is really important, as the company representatives will be full of energy and have not been inundated with qualified candidates yet. This makes it likelier for you to be given an interview slot time, which many companies will have the day after.

After the career fair, you should apply for as many internships online as possible. Go back to the career fair catalog and find all the companies that you would consider interning at. If you are not confident that you will get job offers from your top choices at the career fair, it is smart to lower your standards and apply to 50-100 companies. This is because online applications actually account for a minority of hires at companies (majority being networking). Companies use automated resume scrapers to read your resume, so make sure your resume includes keywords that a company may be looking for (i.e. programming languages). Also, make sure the formatting of your resume is more practical than pretty, so that the bots can read your resume correctly.

At this point, keep an eye out for any emails from companies who are interested, and respond to them quickly.

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