Everyone knows the best way to get your foot in the door of any career is through an internship. Finding a data science internship is one of the first steps you should take if you plan to become a data scientist one day.
In this guide, you will learn what data science interns do, how to get a data science internship, and if data science is really worth it. By learning all of this now, you are effectively preparing yourself for one of the biggest decisions you can make in your career.
What Does a Data Science Intern Do?
To put it simply, data science interns are training to become data scientists. While they are not able to perform all of the tasks that data scientists do, they can do some of the more minor tasks on their oww. Most importantly, they watch and essentially shadow data scientists while they perform work that is too advanced for an internship.
In a data science internship, you will be able to learn the actual hands-on skills required for the job. While these skills are also taught in classroom environments, it is simply not possible to teach more than the theories and concepts behind them without hands-on practice. In some schools, you may be lucky enough to be provided with hands-on learning opportunities, but for most, an internship is the best way to learn.
As for the actual tasks performed by data science interns, it really varies based upon the company you end up interning for. Many companies begin their interns as assistants to data science business analysts, giving them simpler work in data mining and interpretation. Interns can also be found helping with administrative work or assisting in operations maintenance.
How to Get a Data Science Internship
Step 1: Build Your Skill Set and Resume
The first step to being accepted as a data science intern is building up your skill set and resume. Ensuring you are not only equipped with the necessary skills for the job but also the ability to list them properly on a resume is extremely important to getting your first internship. Many schools have programs that will assist in this step of the process.
It is completely possible to acquire the skills you need through online courses rather than attending a university, if this is an avenue you are interested in. Most employers will be looking for some sort of degree or certificate, but many will grant you an internship if you can prove your skills in the necessary areas.
Building a resume tailored to a data science internship involves a bit of research. It is wise to look at the requirements in job postings to get an idea of what they are looking for in interns, and use that information to create the perfect resume. Be sure to list the appropriate skills and qualifications you have in a highlighted section of your resume.
Step 2: Create a Portfolio
After building up your skill set and creating the perfect resume, you will need to begin working on your portfolio. This is often difficult for those applying for their first internship, but using any projects you have done for classes or just for fun can work. As long as you have something to display your skill set, you should be good to go.
Remember, it is quite common for first-time interns to have next to nothing in their portfolio. The internship itself will help you add to and build your portfolio, and all potential employers know that. Even having one project or an idea for a project that is solidly explained can be more than enough to get the internship.
Step 3: Apply for Internships and Get Referred
Obviously, in order to be hired as an intern, you will have to apply for internships. You can easily find job postings by searching popular websites such as Indeed and LinkedIn. However, if there are particular companies you wish to work for, you can certainly check their websites for online applications or go in person to ask about intern positions.
One of the best things you can do when applying for internships is get referred by someone in the company. If you happen to know an employee at a company you want to work for, or even if you are willing to meet with someone from said company, you can ask them to refer you to their employers. This may seem like a bold move, and it certainly is, but this can work extremely well in your favor.
Step 4: Prepare for Interviews
Finally, while waiting for interviews to be scheduled, begin preparing for them. Never wait until the day of your interview to research the company and prepare for questions. Take some time during and after the application process to research every company you have applied to and even conduct practice interviews. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to ace the interview and get the internship.
Conclusion: Is a Data Science Internship Worth It?
Some may feel that a data science internship is a waste of time when they could simply pursue a degree and job instead. While that may be the best option for some people, others do much better with an internship first. In fact, most everyone does.
Look at the internship as an extension of your education. This is the best way to practice everything you have been learning and build up your portfolio so that you can get your dream job. Internships in data science are similar to having practice jobs- so jump on that opportunity. Data science internships are totally worth it.