How to not land an internship?

Pawan Acharya
6 min readJan 24, 2023

Many IT students look forward to completing college and then finding a company where they can participate as an intern, gain new skills, and begin their professional journey.

While this approach may seem straightforward and easy, there are other options available that can bring significant benefits.

First, let me shed some light on why this method is not always a great idea.

  • Why would you work for free or partially paid if you can get more?
  • It's not always guaranteed that the internship can land you to job or you are actually learning in that duration.

I am not against internships. I actually started my career with an internship. Some internships are too good, you are guided by mentors who will actually help you speed up your learning, correct your mistakes, and teach you the best path and correct approach.

But my point is different here, relying solely on internships to start a career may limit your options and earning potential. It is beneficial to utilize the time during your university education to actively develop your skills and gain experience.
By doing so, you will have a competitive edge upon graduation and may not need to rely solely on internships to start your career.

This approach will make you more employable and increase your earning potential. It is all about balancing and utilizing the resources available to you, internships are one of the resources that can help you to enhance your skills and make you more employable but it’s not the only way.

So, What is the WAY?

Let me re-phrase the titile.
How Fill Gap Between University and Real World.

University education is important, it will build a base for all your journey. You can’t achieve anything by hating and ignoring those.
Accept this fact first.

But the real-world industry is different, it doesn't always care about the grade you obtained, etc. It is searching for a skilled human resource who can build the product.

So the catch here is “Balance” and “Resource Utilization”

As a college student, you will spend most of your time in college and doing college-related work. The rest of your time will be holidays like breaks between semesters and weekends.
Let’s talk about how to make the most of both college and your free time.

College Resource/Time Utilization

1. College assignments and projects

Instead of viewing assignments and projects as a burden, see them as opportunities to learn and improve. Some university even provides a mentor to the project so utilize those.
These projects will not only help you to gain knowledge and skills but also could be used as a portfolio in your future job interviews and an opportunity to showcase your abilities. This is where you can stand out from other candidates.

2. Practical Labs/Sessions

Everyone complains that the education system is full of theoretical knowledge only. The irony is the one who complains are the ones who skip or never focus on the practical lab classes at their university.

Doesn’t matter what the subject is, even if it is not of your interest give your undivided attention, trust me one day it will pay off in a real-world use-case.

So never ever skip these classes, and be active and interactive, it will help you grow an interest in theoretical class as well.

3. Technical demonstrations or exhibitions at the college

If your university organizes exhibitions then start taking part in those. Don’t skip thinking your project idea is easy or small. In college life, this is going to be your very first real-world project.

You will get a break from typical exam questions like Matrix Multiplication or checking a number is prime of composite etc and will get a chance to tackle real problems and solve those.

And the advantage is you will get immediate feedback from visitors, get experience with transforming real-world problems in code, work in a team and so much more. It will increase your confidence that you can say:
Throw any problem to me, Yes I can build.

Make the most of your leisure time

1. Learn Learn Learn

Before playing the song on guitar it’s important to learn about chords, strumming, etc. It applies the same here as well, sort out your basics first. The Internet is full of resources to learn, there are tons of videos on Youtube, hundreds of articles that you can follow, and even official documentation. If you need guided learning then you can take a course and learn with help of an instructor.

But don’t get stuck to basics/learning for a long time and start creating projects because there is always google for you to help in case you forgot or are stuck.

So maintain a balance between learning and building projects.

2. Create a Project💡

Project building is essential but what kind of project to build? How to get project ideas?

Search for some problems around you that you can solve with your project. This way you won’t need to make a random project which no one will ever use, instead, you will have a cool project that you can share among your friend circle so you can get feedback and learn a lot by tackling those feedback.

So creating a project will aid your learning part as well. The project-oriented learning is the best way to learn anything new.

3. Use Social Media Effectively (IMPORTANT 🔥)

At this point, you have programming knowledge, built some projects, and shared them among your friend circle. But it’s only in your laptop and your small circle.
Now it's time for self-promotion. Use different social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can share your project screenshots, Programming Knowledge, etc on that platform. The advantage is you will increase reach mentioning that you can build things and have knowledge. So, one day the post can reach the hiring person and you can directly land a job.
Sounds interesting? it actually is because I got my first freelance project with this method. So give it a try.

4. Community

This is the way that can help you reach out to many like-minded people. The benefits are you can get in touch with experienced persons in the field. And when you become part of a circle, you can ask your doubts, share knowledge, participate in or host an event, etc. This will eventually build your leadership skills, motivates you to learn, build a public image, and improves yourself.

The more you contribute to the community, the more benefits you can reap.

You can start with let's say, a Facebook group. Find a group based on your niche. Try to reply to the post asking questions. Give a small portion of your time to this community. This way we can build a strong helpful community.

My personal experience says that someone is monitoring those groups and notices you as a helpful contributor and decides you to give a job with a handsome salary with little to no recruitment process, so what's stopping you to try 😉

5. Contribute in Opensource

Open-source projects are software that has their code publicly available online and are developed and maintained by a community of contributors who work together to improve and evolve the software.

As a beginner, you can explore some projects based on your interest. This will increase your habit of reading code, which will help you to broaden your perspective of doing things.

Additionally, if you can contribute to these projects, you can gain valuable hands-on experience and build a portfolio of work showcasing your skills.

What next?

Now you have some skills, created some projects, and have the confidence to build things, so you are ready to be employable in the market. No need to spend time on unpaid or underpaid internships where you will do the same tasks with low pay. See how a few months of effort can give you growth in your career.

Now you can confidently apply for jobs and confidently convey things and you are in a position to be an asset to a company and contribute.

Still, the learning never ends, you entered a company mentioning that you can build things, but now you can’t stop there, you need to upgrade yourself who just no only build things but builds thing which can scale, maintain, etc. But don’t worry you will learn these skills in the journey. So keep yourself open to learning from anywhere possible.

Good wishes 😇🍀