Every year my Stanford students ask me whether there are any internship opportunities available to them, even though they are often freshmen who have taken only a few CS courses. While many companies want their interns to be a bit further in their CS studies, the good news is that several tech companies have internships and programs specifically targeted at freshmen or students who are early in their CS curriculum.
Here is a brief list of some jobs and opportunities (last updated 2016/01/15, but many of these are ongoing or repeat each year):
- Microsoft Explore
- Google Engineering Practicum
- Google Summer of Code
- Facebook University for Engineering
- Twitter Academy Freshman Engineering Internship
- Intel Early Internship for Software Engineering (IRISE)
- Amazon University Internships
- Pinterest Engage Internship
- Khan Academy internships
- NSA internships
- Breakout Mentors (mentor students age 9-14 as they learn programming)
- possible others
credit to Quora and to UW’s Kellen Donohue for some of these links.
- Quora: What tech companies offer internships to freshmen?
- Quora: What can I do to get an internship over the summer?
Stanford students should also check out Computer Forum, which is the official org to help connect industry companies to our department and our students. You can look at existing partner companies and possible available opportunities and get on their mailing lists to hear about new ones that come up. Computer Forum hosts a career fair early in every autumn and winter quarter, which you should definitely check out. Stanford also offers a course called CS9 with some good information about interviewing and tech jobs.
If you know of a good job opportunity that is not on this list, please let me know!
Also keep in mind that there are lots of other valuable things you can do in your summer besides getting internships at tech companies. Consider doing one of the following:
- work on an independent project of your own creation
- get involved in undergraduate research
- learn new tech skills online through Coursera, Udacity, edX, or another online resource
- set up a personal web site for yourself including your resume, list of courses taken / experience, possibly some samples of your work on GitHub, etc. (please don’t post your class homework solutions publicly unless the instructor says it is okay!)
Last but not least: It’s completely okay to just relax and enjoy your summer after your freshman year. At a top school like Stanford, it probably feels like everybody is doing these ambitious things in summertime and that if you don’t do the same, you’ll fall behind. But not everyone does this kind of summer work, and plenty of us have been successful in tech without doing so. (The author didn’t do ANY internships until he was in grad school, though I did work as a TA sometimes.) You don’t need to feel pressure to do an internship or a project. If doing so isn’t compatible with your schedule, or you prefer not to do so, or you aren’t able to find an offer for one, that is completely okay. It is fine to spend your first college summer traveling, learning a musical instrument, seeing your loved ones, improving at League of Legends, binge-watching Game of Thrones, or whatever you most want to do. Relaxing and recharging your batteries are also very important things to do.