Don’t wait till Spring to apply for summer internships, you really need to start right now! Lessons from my own experience of missing and getting internships in this past year. As per usual, you can watch my YouTube video if you prefer video over the blog post.
Summer 2020 may seem pretty far away, and school just barely started again. You may think you have all the time in the world to prepare for the perfect portfolio that will get you an internship at your dream company. I felt the same way last year. But if the past year has taught me one thing about internship application, it is that you really need to start early, like right now, yes RIGHT NOW!
This summer I did an internship at Ancestry.com in San Francisco, which also ended with a return offer in their San Francisco downtown office. But I think I got lucky because they started the internship recruiting a bit late(but they will start early this year, I believe they already started). If they have started earlier as Apple and Facebook did, I probably would have missed this opportunity too. FYI they are starting early this year and I believe they already started.
The whole process of getting an internship takes several months, it takes a while for the HR team to select you from thousands of applicants, not to mention the rounds of interviews you need to go through with multiple teams. The earlier you apply the earlier you can get the process started. Each company has a budget for their internship program for each year. Thus once the seats are filled, no matter how outstanding you are, it’s unlikely that they will go through a complex process to get the finance team to allocate budget to hire you.
I started preparing my portfolio since summer last year, however, I didn’t start applying for internships until late December. I thought I should wait until I complete the “perfect” portfolio. By the time I completed coding and debugging my portfolio website, some internship openings were already closed. I remember saving the internship postings from Apple and Instagram to my bookmark and finding them gone by the time I apply.
Even though you are applying now, it doesn’t mean you will interview right away. You still have time to keep working and improving your case studies on your website. And you are not submitting a pdf version of your portfolio, you are only submitting a link to a site you can constantly improve. All you need to have is the basic structure and content that good enough for HR to tell it’s relevant to the job.
Don’t wait till you have the perfect portfolio to apply for the internships! Once the seats are filled, it’s gone. You will still have a lot of time to polish your portfolio and case studies after you apply for the internships. Don’t miss the opportunities! And best of luck!