by Jonathan Puc

How to ace your developer internship with these simple steps


In December I wrote an article titled “How did I land my first job as a self-taught developer? I prepared like crazy.”.

Well, I may not have been telling the whole truth — it was an internship and not a job. Don’t worry — I have a reason as to why I framed it as being a job rather than an internship. This will be explained towards the end of this article.

This very reason is why I believe I was offered a position with the company at the end of my internship (yes, now I’m an actual developer and not an intern).

Now, I’m here to share some advice on the things I did during the 3-month internship which propelled me towards having an awesome internship.

Spend as much time as you can with co-workers.

When an intern has built relationships with employees of the company and shown that they fit like a glove within the culture, employers will find it hard to let them walk.

The nature of being a developer involves working in teams. Use this knowledge to your advantage. When you’ve built nice relationships with your co-workers, it will most likely translate to how well you work with them. Employers will know it’s a big mistake to take someone out of an equation when everything has been going well.

So, during breaks and nonwork-related environments, always try to be among your co-workers. Spend time and continue to build rapport with them. Build great relationships with members of the company. Really cement yourself within the culture and equation.

Be keen to take on all projects and assignments whether you think you’re capable of doing it or not.

The nature of being a developer is taking projects and challenges head-on. When you’ve been tasked to work on something that is completely new to you and a bit intimidating, it should always be seen as a learning opportunity.

Developers are problem solvers at heart. When something is alien to them, they’ll do everything in their power to delve into the necessary materials/resources until it’s not so alien.

As an intern, your problem-solving skills are being tested. Take challenges head-on.

Nobody ever learned by staying in their bubble.

Put in the hours

Don’t call it a day once you’ve finished your hours. Continue to work on the projects at home. This might not be sustainable long-term, but it’s helpful in the beginning.

When you’re an intern for a real operating company, you’re getting real-world experience of what it’s like to be a developer. Completely immerse yourself in the whole opportunity and understand what it takes to be a successful developer.

What you put your time in to grows.

Ask questions.

It’s never a stupid question. If you don’t understand something or need further clarification, ALWAYS ask.

Asking questions shows a great sense of curiosity and that you actually care about the quality of your work. It shows that you don’t care if you look like a potato by asking a question with a potentially simple answer. You want things to be done right which requires clarity and complete understanding.

It’s always better to ask than to assume.

Furthermore, an internship is an opportunity to learn from others, so capitalize on this.

Now you might be asking:

“Okay Jonathan, we want to know why you said you had a job as a developer when in fact it was just an internship, we want answers!”

Just because you’re an intern, doesn’t mean you should think or act like one.

Your mind creates your reality. Lose the intern mentality. You’re only setting constraints on yourself when you walk into work saying to yourself “it’s internship time baby!” no matter how enthusiastic you are about it.

Re-frame it and just think of yourself as an actual developer within the company. You’re no different from anybody else. You’ve got just the same amount of responsibility as everybody else. You’re expected to perform at your best just like everybody else. You hold the power to make a positive contribution to the company, just as much as everybody else.

With this mindset, you’re sure to perform really well during your internship.

By thinking of yourself as a developer and team member of the company rather than as an intern… naturally:

  • You’ll fit in nicely with the culture and with those around you in the company.
  • You’ll take on projects and challenges with greater confidence.
  • You’ll be more inclined to put more effort and hours into your work.
  • You won’t ever hesitate to pry or ask questions which highlights your level of concern about what it is that you are doing.

I never saw myself as an intern, even when I was writing my application for the internship. I always saw it as an opportunity to prove myself as a developer, and therefore I had to think and act like one. I believe this is the key to a successful internship.

Wishing you luck on your journey! As always, my inbox is open to anybody in need of further advice or have questions.

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