One fun part about being an engineering student, especially within the discipline of computer science, is searching for cool projects to work on over summer. There are so many companies looking for engineering talent, and such a wide variety of interdisciplinary endeavors that computer science students have the opportunity to contribute to. I am currently looking into a couple of different options for this summer, all of which I am really excited to pursue!
When I started considering what I wanted out of this upcoming summer, I considered working at a large structured company (like my internship last year) or applying to internship programs, working at a startup company, doing research, . Last summer, working at a larger company, I gained some insight into the role engineering plays in within larger business operations and got to work with many experienced engineers. While I enjoyed that experience, I want to continue expanding my understanding of engineering by applying my technical skills in different contexts. Here are some of the things I have considered while trying to figure out my summer plans:
In internships programs like Google’s “Engineering Practicum” (LINK) or Microsoft’s “Explore” (LINK), students are able to get exposure to what its like working at a top tech companies. Additional benefits of programs like these can range from having career mentors to having access to explore emerging technologies. One great things about these programs and other like them is that students can apply for them starting freshman year, and they are really designed with the student experience in mind.
One of the ways I considered spending my summer was doing research. There are tons of opportunities to get involved with what professors are working on, and to support research in many different areas. It is also amazing how many different subfields of computer science apply to different areas. As a computer science researcher, a student could be designing algorithms, using machine learning to analyze algorithms, doing natural language processing (NLP), or running computational simulations.
Working at a startup often provides students with great opportunities to take lead on projects, exercise their technical abilities, and step outside their comfort zone. Because many startups are so dependent on mobile apps, web applications and data processing in some way, shape or form, working in a startup environment allows students to contribute in ways that tangibly impact the company. I work with a lot of growing companies in the work I do for Spark SC and have seen first-hand how exciting the startup culture is in Los Angeles. I was definitely interested in working at a startup this summer, but also know that I’ll probably end up working at a startup sometime soon and don’t feel like I need to rush to the experience.
Many large companies hire consulting firms to help them solve problems that they do not have much experience with. These problems could be about the direction of the business or the implementation of a new technology, and the consulting teams are looked to as the experts for many different cases. Consulting was appealing to me because working as a consultant would allow me to gain exposure to many different types of projects insight into how businesses utilize technology to improve processes on large scales. I also enjoy working in project-based settings in lean groups, and feel that the things I have learned about leadership and team dynamics from working in student orgs combined with the analytical skills I am developing academically are good preparation for this type of environment.
After doing my own research about the positions I could apply for in these different areas, I decided that this would be a great summer to look into consulting or working at a startup. I felt like both of these paths would be sufficiently different from my experiences last summer, and that I would be able to find opportunities to work in Los Angeles, where I hope to be living this summer. My perfect summer would include working an internship while taking a summer class (CSCI 350 –– Operating Systems) and I will update back here soon when I know whether or not it will all work out!
UPDATE: You can see this in my posts about the startup I worked at and taking operating systems over the summer, but I ended up finding exactly what I was looking for![author title=”Author” author_id=””] Button Text