5 things I learned ahead of my first technical internship

How I Prepared for My First Technical Internship

During August, I reached out to a start-up company that works with Telehealth and applying AI to radiology and dermatology. I was offered an internship position for the fall, and I am very excited to start! As my first technical internship, I decided I wanted to try and come prepared. Thus, I will be highlighting some of the essential skills that I reviewed and how I prepped for my fall internship.

1 - I reviewed some of the technical stuff

I decided to review some of the technical qualifications I would need to apply as a part of my internship work. As this highly depends on what the internship requires, and your accessibility to resources and technology, I would recommend reading the job/internship descriptions required and finding the "helpful to know" technologies. You could also find books/courses to review them. For my internship, I reviewed:

  • Amazon Web Services

  • Machine Learning with TensorFlow and Pytorch

  • Python

  • Flask

  • APIs


  • Bootstrap 4

I systematically went through and tried to find Coursera courses, books, and online tutorials to review each topic.

For Amazon Web Services, I went to Amazon Web Services Training Page and learned through their Amazon Web Services Cloud Practitioner Course. It is a free, introductory course to using AWS and provides helpful tutorials that show how to implement the multitudes of services within AWS. They also have a certification system, which I plan to do in the future, that costs $100 USD.

For Machine Learning with TensorFlow and Python, I used multiple books from Jason Brown Lee's Machine Learning Mastery book series, which covered TensorFlow and Python review. I also used numerous Coursera Guided Project courses, which helped apply my learning to real data sets.

For reviewing APIs, I used the books APIs: A Strategy Guide by Daniel Jacobson, Greg Brail, and Dan Woods, and Designing Web APIs by Brenda Jin, Saurabh Sahni, and Amir Shevat. I also reviewed implementing APIs using Free Code Camp's APIs and Microservices course (which, as referenced in the name, is free!).

I felt comfortable with my Flask, HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap 4 skills, so I didn't do review these topics much. If you feel over 80% confident in your abilities before an internship for a particular skill/technology, I recommend trying to divert your time to review other skills needed.

After my preparation, I felt ready to dive into the work and refreshed with some of the daily challenges I could encounter.

2 - I read and reviewed competing companies technology/ business models

I listened to other companies that my boss highlighted and researched their current business model, methodology, and marketing. Even as a technical intern, I wanted to understand other existing businesses in the field.

3 - I reviewed Git and GitHub

Git and GitHub can be considered 'technologies,' but they are so widely applied throughout nearly any technical CS position that I may need to make them into their own separate topic. If you are collaborating with others on building a software, you will almost inevitably have to use Git and GitHub. Before we jump into what resources I used for reviewing these, I'll briefly discuss what Git and GitHub are.

Git is a Version Control Software (VCS) that you can safely change, revert changes, and merge changes with others collaborating on creating a software. GitHub allows you to clone Git repositories (basically, the file cabinets of code that you will be collaborating with others), which means you can share code online and pull changes from other collaborators' and push changes that you make to the code.

For my prep, I used Introduction to Git and GitHub by Google on the Coursera platform. This course is actually a part of the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate, but I only took the individual course. It was a 10/10 class with a funny, engaging instructor that provided analogies and really clarified complexities of Git and GitHub. The assessments given really help solidify the concepts and put your Git and GitHub skills into practice. This course really helped acclimate me more to CLI (command line interface), which I had rarely used before. I believe this was my favorite resource in my review process!

4 - I got familiar with my company's communication tools

Not all companies will use the tools that you are familiar with. Some will primarily communicate with Slack, others with Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Zoom, etc. Most likely, you will communicate with a combination of tools. To ensure that you are successfully communicating, ensure you understand the different communication tools your company uses, and don't be afraid to ask for help with functionality. Being an excellent communicator is so important as an intern, and you shouldn't be scared to ask for help or be limited by your communication tools. Speak up and ask away!

5- A ready-to-go attitude

I will try to commit to being ready to work, being confused, and asking questions. I am ready to commit to my internship with a positive attitude and I am prepared to put in the work.

I hope this list of what I'm preparing for my first technical internship is helpful! I will most likely do an update blog post about what helped and a reflection of how my preparation could have been better. Thank you for reading this blog, and I wish you all the best for your current and future internships.

With thanks - this article was written by Stephanie Eristoff.

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