The word "technology" surrounds our daily lives. It's hard to find an industry that hasn't been -- or isn't currently being -- transformed by rapid advances in technology on both the hardware and software side. If you have a passion for technology and hope to someday forge a career path through this growing industry, an internship can be a crucial step in helping you gain professional experience.
Whether you hope to go into IT, programming, computer science, or another field related to the tech industry, be prepared to exercise both scientific discipline and business-oriented creativity. Many of the most valuable and influential companies in the world right now have leveraged technology to improve our lives; if you hope to do the same, an internship can be an invaluable first step on that path.
Photo credit: Ilya Pavlov.
Technology is a varied industry with a huge number of roles and opportunities, no matter what type of work you hope to do in the field.
Information Technology, or IT, has become an umbrella term that covers many different roles in some companies, but typically involves roles such as information security or technology support. Often under-appreciated, interning in IT is a way to provide a pivotal service to whatever company you work for and laying a strong foundation for your future career.
Considered the cash cow of technology right now, software engineers or programmers are some of the most coveted jobs and internships -- and potentially some of the most well-paid. If you have a love for programming language and take pleasure in searching miles of code to squash bugs and improve efficiencies, this is the field where a technology internship will help your career the most.
Using computer and technology to augment scientific research, imaging, modeling, or interfaces are all examples of what you might do as a computer science technology intern. Be prepared to spend time learning new computer languages and programs that allow you to not only help improve system performance, but also look forward to see how your work improves the real world.
Given how widespread the presence of technology in our lives, it's not easy to classify the many varied job roles and internships that companies are looking to fill. For example, some roles that are difficult to quantify include QA (quality assurance) on mobile apps or curators who use technology to enhance the interface with art in museums. If you can imagine a role that uses technology in a company, you can build or find an internship that will advance your professional experience doing that work.
Where to Go
Opportunities in technology used to be limited to a few small parts of the world such as Silicon Valley or New York City. Now, tech centers are popping up in nearly every major city in the world, and your options are limited only by where you'd like to go and what part of technology you'd like to learn on your internship.
Taking advantage of proximity to the west coast of the US, Vancouver has a massive tech industry that continues to dominate many other cities in Canada. The cost of living is still cheaper than in places like San Francisco or Seattle, making it a great option for internship placement.
Not to be stereotypical, but Taiwan has been a major part of the tech boom in the U.S., as a secondary industry that has supported the creation and manufacturing of much of the tech we all currently use. Now, both large and startup tech companies are using Taiwan as a base for operations due to their relationship with China, too. You won't lack in opportunity if you choose to intern in Taiwan.
To prove the point that tech is booming everywhere, consider applying for an internship in Haifa, Israel. With one of the largest tech-focused universities in the region, startups are flocking to Haifa to recruit talent and take advantage of lower operations costs. If your internship interests lie with smaller companies and in programming, Israel could be a great fit.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has fast become a hotbed for technology development in Europe, despite their slow start out of the gate in the early 2000s. Fast wifi and low costs of living bring founders, programmers, and even larger companies to the city in droves, and internship opportunities are widely available in all technology roles.
While the cost of living is higher than other destinations, opportunities in London can really pay off in the long-run. The tech scene in Britain's biggest city is primarily focused on finance, and the networking opportunities are limitless. There may be some adjustments in terms of what kinds of internships you can apply for as the UK leaves the EU, but there will always be a way for well-qualified interns to find a fulfilling role in London.
Planning Your Trip
When you're looking to apply for internships in the technology sector, here are several things to keep in mind:
Figure Out Your Goals
The sooner you can figure out what type of work you'd like to do or your goals for this internship, the better your chances of a successful internship application. It also helps to know how to write a resume for anywhere in the world.
While of course an internship is a good chance to try a new field, internships can be competitive, and if you have a clear vision for yourself and your career, your internship will be more likely to help you in your career.
That being said, don't let your preconceptions prevent you from trying new things! You may discover something new that you'd like to pursue, and that's okay, too.
More than likely, housing will not be provided as part of your internship, especially if you work for a privately owned business or startup. Be prepared to search for housing in your host city; similar tips for studying abroad independently in that country will help you get a sense for how involved this process may be.
Be prepared to adjust to a different office culture or work environment. You may be expected to act or behave differently than in your home country, and if you don't speak your host country's language, you may have to get used to the language barrier.
You will likely have to step out of your comfort zone, but try to take advantage of the clean slate to learn as much as you can. At the end of your internship, you'll return to your home country with a new slew of international tools in your arsenal.