5 Internships taught me 5 rules of Internships
15 min read
The internship is the first and most important step in one’s career path. It gives a first glance of the work culture and helps in gaining confidence in deciding the right career for you. There would be hardly anyone who hasn’t done at least one internship. But the most important part is finding a good one and then making most out of it. I did 5 internships in 3 college years that too travelling across 13 countries around the world and all self-funded. I can't emphasize enough on what an important role they have played in my life that is helping me in doing my job as CTO of Twimbit. In this read, I would take you along my internship journey through various keystones that one should consider to find better opportunities and make most out of there internship.
1. Source of Opportunity
Internship 1 Fall 2016 Internship project — WEB operations Company - Joint EBWA and BPW Place - Cairo, Egypt
I have seen many folks wandering around to find a good internship. This shouldn’t be a bigger challenge as there are many platforms which get you matched with a good opportunity. That sometimes becomes a challenge too as you don't know what is the company beyond there Job Description. You should dig deeper about the company as much as you can and ask about it more during your interview round. Also, you should not conflict your interest with too much of this and that and other materialistic bullshit. Always remember it's you who is getting the most beneficial not the company. and your focus should be to work with the right minds who can help you grow. Everyone won’t find an internship at big company like Google and it’s ok to start small. You will learn more at startup and will be given much responsibilities there.
My first internship was through a talent organisation named AIESEC which helps student find internships abroad. I applied for a volunteer opportunity at an NGO named EBWA which empowered women in running their business. I lacked experience at that time hence anything would have been better but working for a noble cause was the best thing. After couple of interviews, I got the opportunity. It was non paid but they would offer accommodation and travel allowances. I collected some money to get the visa and flight tickets and set off for my first travel. I was 17 at that time so my family was worried about travelling alone but everything turned out to be good. During the programme, I not only did some amazing things but also explored ancient Egypt and made many friends.
Nowadays at Twimbit, we hire interns from all around the world through various sources. For us, no platform is better than other and we treat every candidate equally and give them every possible chance to get the best opportunity.
2. A solid reason
Internship 2 Summer 2017 Internship project — WEB development Company - Tommorrow Systems ( IWASSA) Place - Milan, Italy
The first time I heard the idea of internship it seemed to be fun, like getting to work in an office without actually completing your degree, sounds really cool. Most of my batchmates had to do it for the main reason of adding it there resumes but I, on the other hand, had no idea at first why I was doing it (other than that I get to work in an office 😂 ). But later I realized its mainly to get a glimpse of how your future life would look like. Those folks who are doing it for there resumes ( not to offend them ) would find themselves just passing the time and not learning something real.
I got the proposal to work at Tomorrow systems during my internship in Egypt when I was travelling for a weekend holiday to Dahab which is an island in Eastern Egypt. A stranger sitting next to me helped translate instruction from a security check personnel and later this stranger became my friends who was CMO at IWASSA. He asked me to have an interview with there Tech manager. I took that very lightly at that time and went to have an interview and surprisingly got selected. It was a remote opportunity where I would be paid monthly and often travel to Milan during my College vacations. During the internship, I learnt the important lessons of managing work and delivering things at a time especially because of the remote environment. Some tasks were more challenging but my seniors always helped me and guided me through those tuff tasks. I learnt a lot about serverless, web security, Wordpress development, Hosting etc during the time. Later the company was acquired by Tomorrow Systems and I was lucky to remain the part. I also worked on projects from Sanrios the famous company behind hello kitty.
Fun fact — Sanrio's official website was developed and maintained by me and I also visited the office at Milan which was full of Hello Kitty stuff .
3. The required skills
Internship 3 Fall 2017 Internship project — Front End Developer Company - Upsell.ai Place - Athens, Greece
The most difficult part of getting an Internship is when you don't know much and better the company the higher will be their requirements. At this time it becomes more of a chicken-egg problem when you have to think between learning the skill first and then doing the internship or Doing the internship and learning. In my opinion, it should be a mixture of both. You should continuously work on adding more skills but that is not the only thing a company needs. It should be more about what you desire to do. Companies most of the time look into your style of doing things not expertise in a language or stack. At the same time, you should be ready to take the required tech stack as your next challenge and be open about it during the interview. Most of the time people are kind enough in believing in you and giving you every chance to prove yourself.
I applied for a Global entrepreneur program through AIESEC, this time for Europe ( Just because I wanted to travel more 🤩 ). I applied for multiple companies where everyone’s requirement exceeded my skill set but I still persisted to give it a try. Among them was a company named Upsell.ai which was a hotel and luxury AI company and needed a Front End guy knowing React.js( I, of course, 😂 lied in my application ) and went to have the interview. My interviewer was the founder and CEO himself and the coolest guy I ever met. I was honest about my skills and told other things about me and the interview turned out to be 1 hr of fun call. I got the opportunity and travelled to Athens. Soon I was handed many important responsibilities and made many awesome techs. We use to travel around hotels in Greece and really enjoyed our work. Later the company offered me a job as a UX and AI consultant with a stipend I could never refuse.
4. Not just about work
Internship 4 Summer 2018 Internship project — Research Associate for Recommender Systems Company - TU Wien, Ecommerce Devision of IT Place - Vienna, Austria
In the hustle of becoming better and making good profile situations sometimes become really daunting and challenging. When you are not enjoying things that you do, you can’t think creatively and do things at your maximum potential. If you are not feeling good about your project you should talk about it. People mentoring you have a better experience and can always help you in the situation. Self-motivation is also important and it's not necessary that you will get things that you want but you should be ready for any situations and that's what your future life is going to be about. The best thing you can have from your internship period is finding friends and mentors that will remain in rest of your life.
I was doing amazingly good at Upsell but Babis ( CEO of the company) had something more for me. He offered me to be the company representative at a research project that we were doing with the Technical University of Vienna (TU WIEN) . The project was to build a recommender system with AI/ML about which I had no prior knowledge. I went to have the internship and learnt many things about Recommender Sytems, Flask API, CNN, Deep learning and more. This gave me confidence and credibility to go on to build anything that had AI in it for the future.
But one thing that I realized was, more than the technical learning I also did learn about things like people skills, communications, overcoming the tough situations and helping others. These are the lesson I would never learn at home or in books. I now friend from almost all parts of the world and have people to visit for any help.
5. Managing the variables
Internship 5 Fall 2018 Internship project — Startup incubation Company - Kievents.co, AIC Bimtech Place - Noida, India
The path to internship won’t be easy and many obstacles will come along. Most of you must be wondering how did I go for these internships during college time. BIT ( my college ) had the same strict attendance rule like the other colleges. Due to the reason I always fall short of my attendance. But somehow I always found I way with a certificate or an amazing excuse to get pass it. I don't encourage you to go against your college rules but figure out a way to manage both of them parallelly and that's what I exactly did. When you have the right opportunity in hand everyone will support you. And always be open to working remotely with the company, many of them already support a programme like this. The other challenges that may come can be financial. I never depended on my family for my expenses and had a workaround to gather the budget. During my college days, I took freelance projects and saved my stipends for future travel.
Turns out if you have the full will of doing something you will find a way.
My final year internship was actually an incubation at AIC Bimtech. By this time my colleges realized my will power 😎 and didn’t bother me too much about attendance. Later I met other like-minded people and co-founded Twimbit
Most of you won’t be having the same things as I got and sometimes a little luck is also needed. But more than that you need to have the 4 most important things that I have at back my office wall.
I am always excited and happy to help anyone looking for an opportunity or need any guidance. Feel free to connect with me anytime. I hope you found something fruitful from my journey and I wish you luck for the future.