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Question: How Do You Job Hunt During Internships?

Published 6/29/2016

In today's episode, I answer a question from Reddit about job hunting during an internship.

Today's episode is sponsored by Rollbar. With Rollbar, you get the context, insights and control you need to find and fix bugs faster. Rollbar is offering Developer Tea listeners the Bootstrap Plan, free for 90 days (300,000 errors tracked for free)!

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'll answer a user's question about looking for a job while at an internship. Today's episode of Developer Tea is brought to you by Roe Bar. Roe Bar integrates with whatever platform you are using to put errors in their place. We will talk more about what Roe Bar has to offer later on in today's episode. Back in the middle of June I took a question from a Reddit user Paragon and in today's episode I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to take another Reddit question. There's a lot of awesome questions in the programming community on Reddit. Specifically the CS career questions community. I love to go and look at the types of problems that people are having so that I can address some of them on the show. Today is exactly one of those problems. The user's name is TRW CSS2 and as I did in the previous episode, I'll include a link to this particular question and we'll refer to the Reddit user as TR for short. TR says, so I'm starting an internship in the Bay area from next Monday at a small start up but I need to look for a fall, co-op internship at the same time, hopefully in the Bay area as well. I definitely overlooked how difficult it would be to look for jobs while working before I made the decision and I'm starting to panic. I could apply to East Coast companies and use the three hour time difference to schedule an interview in the morning but I have no idea how I can make interviews work during the daytime. Would it be acceptable to ask to work longer on the non-interview days and come to the job a bit late for an interview and do you have any tips or experience on looking for a job while working? TR, I can tell you that you are not the first person to go through this and looking for a job while at your current job can be an exhausting task. We've actually talked about looking for a job while at your current job when you're planning to quit but the most common scenarios where this is happening is in contract work and where you are in your career, you're in an internship and you're looking for either your next internship or a co-op or your first full-time job out of school. I've had similar experiences the first time was when I was at my internship and I was looking at schools for my master's program. Of course I was not a I wasn't a full-time intern at the time I was still going to class but I did have similar problems to you are and I think a lot of people who are listening to this episode you're identifying with this with this issue. Another big group of people are those who go from project to project and you're a consultant maybe you're looking at working with multiple clients. So I do have some advice for you TR and hopefully this will be helpful to you in your situation and others who are listening. So I have three points of advice for you and the first one is pretty simple. Tell your boss what is going on and ask if they can help. Tell your boss what is going on communicate with your boss, let them know the situation you are in and ask if they have any ways that they can help you. And the reality here is that we have a little bit of a hesitancy to ask our bosses for help. We want to make sure that we look independent or that we're doing things on our own because we don't want to bother our boss but those people who receive the most help are those who ask for help. Now you don't need to grovel or you don't need to say hey you know I'm unable to do this without your help but ask them if they have any ideas any recommendations, ask them for their guidance that's why you're there as an intern is to receive guidance from your boss. Most companies that hire interns do so with the knowledge that the intern may have some complicated career dynamics coming into that situation. If you are working at a small startup most of the people there likely understand the position you are in. They probably were there themselves not long ago and your boss will probably be willing to let you work through whatever interview processes you need to work through. And the only way you're going to be able to get that approval is to tell your boss what is going on. Explain to your boss that you need to figure out your next step. But here's the bigger thing. When you tell your boss your situation you might suddenly have someone who will help you solve your problem that you didn't have before. If people don't know your problem they have no way to help. And if you don't tell your boss why you want to work late one day they have no information about why you want to work late that day. They may think that you just you are deciding to stay home that day that you're cutting the grass or something right. So this is how networking truly occurs. And that's what this entire episode is ultimately going to center around the concept of networking and how you actually start networking when you're in your internship. So that is that's the first point. Tell your boss what's going on and ask for their help ask for their guidance. Ask for a connection if they have one. And that actually leads me directly into my second point. And that is push to extend your current internship. Try to extend your current internship. You know they say that the best exercise is the one that you will actually do. Well the best relationships are the ones that you already have. And this is particularly for professional relationships. The most valuable connections to you right now are the ones that you've already made. There are a lot of benefits to extending your internship where you currently are. For example, you're much more likely to be hired into the company you are interning at if that's something that you may eventually want to do longer 10 years at a company is typically a positive sign on on a resume. So if you're doing a six month internship, that doesn't look quite as good as doing a full year, maybe two years. That is going to to look better on a resume than a very short internship would. Another reason that extending your internship is a good idea is because working with the same problems for longer than a year will actually give you deeper experience. You're going to understand the problem a little bit more. You're going to be much more confident with the work that you're doing by the end of that internship. And your relationships with the first internship will grow deeper the longer you stay. You're going to have a lot more relational capital by the time that you leave that internship. Of course, there are some drawbacks that seeking a secondary internship might solve. Like for example, at a secondary internship, you might learn a different tech stack or if you end up not liking the place that you're currently interning at the second internship, maybe more suitable for you in the long run. And the two companies on your resume may look like more experience to some potential employers. But these are really much smaller reasons. Overall, I would recommend that you stay at your current internship if they will allow you to do so. That solves the issue of splitting your attention between doing your current job and looking for another job. And instead, you can fully focus on what you're there to do. If your employer knows that your attention is split, then it may feel like a very long two weeks notice, right, where you've already told your employer when you're going to quit. A lot of companies like to hire interns because they have already invested the time to learn their processes and get integrated with a team. In other words, they like to convert interns into full-time salary employees because they've already invested in them. They've already been integrated. And if they know that you're not going to be available to hire after your internship, then they may be tempted to invest a little bit less in you. They may not put a bunch of time into helping you learn, helping you become a better developer than they would if they knew you wanted to stay. So staying at your current internship, extending that opportunity and really helping people at that place solve their problems and saying, Hey, I'm here for the long haul. I'm here to help you and I'd love to extend my internship. That is a huge potential positive for you, T.R. If you can extend your current internship, you're going to be much better off than if you split your attention and try to go and get a different internship at a different company. And if you do good work, if you actually apply yourself, if you are on time and you're focused and you're collaborating well and you're investing in the relationships in the place that you have your current internship in, then why wouldn't they extend your internship? Even if they said, this is a six month internship and wants it's over, then we part ways. Even if they say that if the six months that you are there, you are delivering consistent value, then why wouldn't they try to hire you or try to extend that internship? That's an opportunity for you and it's an opportunity for them. So that would be probably my number one recommendation to take away from today's episode for you, T.R. is to try to extend that current opportunity if possible. I have one more piece of advice for you, T.R. But first, I want to talk about today's incredible sponsor, Rollbar. With Rollbar, you get the context, the insights and the control you need to find and fix bugs faster. Dealing with errors, dealing with problems in production, this is really frustrating and the best programmers know how to do this right. Not only do we rely on users to report errors and we don't only dig through logs, those are certainly good options, but a better option is to have something reporting those errors to you. Rollbar does exactly that. Rollbar works with all major languages and frameworks and you can start tracking production errors and deployments in eight minutes or less. And in my experience, it's much less than eight minutes. You can integrate Rollbar into existing development workflows and you can send alerts to Slack or HIP chat or create issues in GitHub or JIRA, Asana, Pivotal, Tracker, all of the things that you are used to using already. Now, some of Rollbar's customers include the big guys, Heroku, Twilio, Kayak, InstaCart, Zindask and Twitch and Rollbar has a special offer for Developer Tealisteners. And this is to help you learn how to use Rollbar and that's the bootstrap plan. It's free for 90 days. You track 300,000 errors with that free bootstrap plan that Rollbar is offering you. If you want to take advantage of this and get integrated with whatever system you are building today, it only takes eight minutes. That's actually shorter than this episode of Developer Teahead over to rollbar.com slash Developer Tea. Now, of course, all of this information can be found in the show notes at spec.fm. Thanks so much again to Rollbar for sponsoring Developer Tea and forgiving our listeners such a great free product to use. So we're talking about TR's question about looking for a job while at an internship. And this hopefully applies to a lot of you who are working with clients, you're working on contract work, but it especially applies to other people who have internships and who are looking to build their career from the ground up. And we've already talked about talking to your boss, letting them know what's going on, asking for their help. We've talked about pushing to extend your current internship, extending that already working situation so that you can learn more and invest more in that company. And finally, number three, TR, I want you to focus on building relationships in off hours. This seems a little bit frustrating that you would have to work on your job during off hours, especially if you're like me, if you're a little bit anti social, if you like to stay home and kind of have your alone time. But you mentioned to your that you were thinking about seeking a job at an East Coast company so that you can attend interviews with that company based on the time difference. That's the main reason that you're thinking about, you know, pursuing an East Coast company. And while I admire the commitment to integrity with your current internship, you will likely be much better off building relationships where you are. A large portion of networking happens via email or at a meetup or in off hours hacking sessions or over text. If you're looking to network for job position, your best spent energy is growing your current relationships and expanding your network rather than cold calling to companies across the country. Now I'm not saying that that can't work. TR, I think that's a decent idea to do an interview in the morning when you're in your off hours. And, you know, maybe it's a possibility that you could get a job on the East Coast. If that's what it comes down to. But remember, everyone around you has a problem to solve. Think about that for a second. Everyone around you, all of your friends, all of your family, they all have a problem to solve. And everyone around you knows someone that you don't know. And this is how networking happens. The people that you know, they know people that you don't know, right? They have connections that you currently don't have. In the Bay Area, this is especially true. And those network connections are incredibly powerful. So building your network from the perspective of focusing on helping other people solve their problems. That's where I want all of your focus to be TR. Help other people solve their problems. That is most likely how you will land your next job and the job after that and the job after that and so on. So let's go back to my previous recommendation that you extend your current internship. If your current employer knows that your goal is to help their startup solve problems, they will in turn be much more likely to help you. If instead they think that you're there just to check a box on your resume or you know, fulfill a requirement on your transcript, they're going to be much less likely to invest in your long term success. So if you tell them, hey, you know, I have to get a different internship for the next quarter. So I'm going to be out a few hours and they see that you're kind of checking out mentally and that you're not there to help them solve their problems. But instead, you're there just to check a box on your resume. They're going to be much less likely to want to help you. Your interviews then are likely only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding your next internship and you shouldn't base the decision of who you work for solely on when you are available for an interview. Your next employer will also understand and respect your determination and integrity and may even make a concession for you to interview late or early or even on a weekend day. But be focused on relationships more than the logistics of your interview process. If you are focused on helping other people solve their problems and you provide your time and you provide your energy and you provide the integrity that you very clearly are hoping to provide, then that is how you're going to grow your network and growing your network is the most likely avenue to your next job, whether it's an internship or if you're going for the C-suite somewhere. It doesn't really matter. Networking is an incredibly important part of job finding. TR, hopefully this is helpful in your particular situation and I hope that you have a smooth relationship with your current internship and that you can extend it into the future and truly help them solve their problems. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Rollbar, with Rollbar you can put errors in their place and it only takes you eight minutes. Of course it is totally free for you as a Developer T-listener for the next 90 days. Go and get signed up now by going to rollbar.com slash Developer Tea. All of the notes from today's episode can be found at spec.fm and before you do anything else, I want you to stop and subscribe to Developer Tea. This is the best way to make sure you don't miss out on future episodes of Developer Tea and there are three of those every single week. We've got some really good ones coming up in the next couple of weeks and I don't want you to miss out so go and subscribe now you can do that in pretty much any podcasting app you use. Thanks so much for listening to Developer Tea and until next time, enjoy your tea.