Student → Intern → Working Student

The three most important things I learnt from these transitions

As the countdown to graduation day approached, it became apparent that my window of opportunity to leave university with a degree-related job was dwindling away.

As each day passed, I found myself less and less comfortable in my search for a place in the tech industry. Extending my degree to post-grad as a stall tactic wasn’t something I ever considered – until now!

Luckily, thanks to Summer of Tech, I ended up working at PaperKite as an intern in the Android team for 3 months. Since March I’ve been balancing part-time work with tying up the loose ends in my degree.

Hopefully the following top tips can help out someone in the same situation

1. As a student:

Explore outside the bounds of your weekly assignments and projects.

Not only will these experiments be great to show a potential employer, but they will also help you discover what you like doing – and what you’re good at!

Despite the fact that this App shows a clear disregard for user experience, and runs on some shocking looking code, it was pretty damn funny to create and play with afterwards.

My advice is to find something you can experiment with or create in your spare time, and get it to a somewhat presentable state. I’m 99% sure that employers will love that shit.

One of my first Android Apps: Trump Tap

2. As an intern:

Have an open mind!

IMO the difference between studying at university and working in the industry is pretty insane. Why you don’t learn more about the stuff that you’ll actually use when you start working, I don’t know, but that’s another topic completely.

When I say have an open mind, not only do I mean to things like how you can improve your programming or how to communicate with your team, but also being open to a company’s culture. Connecting with the people you work with will do wonders for the quality of your days as an Intern.

During my three month internship, I probably learnt more than I did in my first two years of uni. The combination of a great work environment and a truly open mind is the recipe to some intense brain gains.

Remember that an internship is an opportunity for you to get some real industry experience, meet a bunch of awesome people, and create some amazing things. Then if the stars happen to align perfectly and you fit the bill, you might end up with a permanent position at the company!

A snap from the PaperKite Xmas trip 2k16

3. As a working student:

Find that sweet spot (…and don’t fail your papers).

Going from working 40 hours a week to being back at university was a bit of a shocker for me! All I wanted to do was go back to writing code and making freaking cool Apps, so it took a little while to adjust to the new game plan of working around university commitments. However, having a supportive team definitely makes this easier.

Not going to lie, juggling work and uni does take it out of you. Good organisation is key to being certain about what you need to do and where you need to be at each point in the day.

There are going to be hectic times where you need to run back and forth between uni and work, but that’s all part of the deal, and I think that the pros outweigh the cons. So hopefully, if you didn’t mess up like me and fail a first year paper, you’ll be well on your way to dropping the #studentlyf and taking the first steps in your career.