When looking for a job, you need a strong resume and a portfolio that will impress your potential employer. But where do you find projects if you’re still learning the ropes? Practicum has the perfect answer – externships.
Externships are similar to internships, but they are part of the study program. They mimic the real-life tasks of companies or provide actual assignments. As a coding bootcamp student, you can join a team to create an actual website or mobile app. And here’s why you should definitely go for it.
Why are externships worth the time and effort?
At Practicum, you get trained as a software engineer while working on an interactive platform. The course is divided into sprints, offering hands-on education. Still, there are blank spots about how the tech work process is organized that can be covered only if you work on a real assessment.
This is where externships come into play. Their goal is to bridge the gap between the academic environment and actual projects at real companies. As a Practicum student, you don’t have to do externships but you’ll probably want to. Just think about all the benefits that come with it.
- You’ll get plenty of practical experience to develop your hard and soft skills
- You’ll get valuable feedback and reviews from IT specialists that could boost your profile as a newcomer to tech
- You’ll get to meet people and network with potential colleagues and employers, who could eventually hire you or at least recommend you to others
- You’ll gain more confidence in your abilities, something that will come in handy both in your studies and during future job interviews
- And arguably, the best part is that you’ll get real, completed projects to brag about on your resume
All of the above boils down to one thing, and that is giving you a competitive edge in the job market. Let’s hear from students who signed up for an externship – and loved it!
“Working in teams with some incredible developers felt like a great introduction to the real world and has allowed me opportunities to augment my portfolio with projects of which I'm really proud,” says Jake McCambley, a Practicum graduate who now works as a software engineer at Zencare.
“It was awesome working on a website that would actually be used, not just a test project. It was a great experience, and it was also fantastic working in a team setting!” says Julie Galvan, now a junior software engineer at Iterative.
“Some things are hard to teach on a web platform and are better taught with a fast-approaching deadline. I've learned to ask the right questions in order to learn skills that have made me a more efficient and capable developer,” Jake adds.
How does Practicum select externship projects?
To find relevant openings for students, Practicum partners up with tech companies and carefully examines every project they seek externs for. To make the cut, a project must tick all the right boxes.
- It must be interesting. At Practicum, we have a soft spot for projects that deal with important issues, from climate change to mental health, to sustainability
- The potential end product must be of practical value to the company
- It should be possible to make a minimum viable product within four to five weeks
After we’ve approved a project and discussed the specs with the company, we choose the design for the site at hand. Then we reach out to students looking to step things up with extracurricular activities.
How and when do I join an externship?
If you feel you’re ready to apply for an externship, your next step would be to contact your community manager in Discord. Your name will be put on a list for the next project (we have them updated every couple of months). You are eligible to sign up during studies and up to six months after graduation.
However, if you have fallen behind on your regular assignments, you won’t be able to do an externship.
How much of my time will an externship take?
On average, an externship is designed to last about a month, and it will take at least 10 hours a week of your time. This is not set in stone and depends on the project in question. Before getting down to work, you’ll get to know the deadlines and the day of the final presentation.
How does an externship work?
You and your fellow programmers will work as a remote project team overseen by managers. You’ll be allowed to write code at your own pace - no one’s going to check your progress on a daily basis. But there are two types of meetings you need to attend:
- Weekly meetings with your externship mentor. Here, students update one another on what they did last week and make plans for the next seven days. If you feel like you need more guidance, you may request more calls.
- Team meetings. Besides communicating via Discord and scheduling your assignments in GitHub, you’ll communicate with your colleagues and supervisors whenever there’s a need to sort things out.
Once the project is completed, the team will cap it off with a presentation. Congrats! You’ve done it. Now you can pick up your certificate or sign up for another externship to make your portfolio look even better.
Will I get paid for working as an extern?
No, you won’t get paid for your contribution to the project. We offer externships solely for educational purposes. But the boost our externship program gives to your budding career makes it worth your while.
Some of the best students don’t have to wait for long, as they get hired by the company they worked as externs for. “We are always happy to hire folks that want to learn and can solve issues. Since they [Practicum students] were leading the website project, it was natural for us to keep them doing it with our team, and eventually grow into other projects,” says the Iterative co-founder Ivan Shcheklein.
If you want to learn more about Practicum externships and learn more how this experience can benefit you, check out our video with Practicum's career coach Christina Guida.
One of the best things about Practicum’s Software Engineering Bootcamp is its hands-on training. Morever, we organize externships and encourage the best students to take part in them. Externships help you boost your portfolio with new exciting projects and drastically improve your credentials.
87% of Practicum grads find a job in tech within six months, and our externship program is one of the leading factors behind this impressive number.