Laurie Lim Sam

How to land your first internship? – Laurie’s story

This week I was a panellist for a webinar organised by Katapult Mauritius on “How to land your first internship”. Katapult is an amazing Edtech startup in Mauritius where I am originally from. The company helps children learn to code and develop problem solving skills. I’m happy to also share my experience with everyone reading this blog.

Last year, I was an intern at Druid. I applied for a summer internship after the first semester of Helsinki Business College’s full stack development program. I moved to Finland at the end of the year 2020 to study and become a software developer. 

My goals for the internship were to:

  1. learn the process of professional software development
  2. find out if working as a developer was suitable for me
  3. get an edge on finding a position for the compulsory internship I needed to graduate

Having a clear set of goals helped me shape my application and subsequently, my internship experience. I was able to focus on what was important to me.

So how did I actually find my internship?

The first thing I did was to go to LinkedIn; not to search for job postings but to look at my network. Through my school connections, I looked at where my alumni had done their internships and where they were hired after graduation. The reasoning behind it was that the companies who hired them knew about my school and program, and showed interest in hiring junior developers.

Two of my seniors were doing their internships at Druid Oy at that time. This was a company I was familiar with as I had come across it in 2019. Druid was one of the main partners for the full stack development program that year. I went to the company’s LinkedIn page and saw that some employees were fellow alumni. All this signalled to me that the company was open to hiring interns and fresh graduates. I reached out to them via the company’s career page and got an interview.

How to pitch yourself?

When it comes to software development, having a solid portfolio is going to make you stand out. The projects you do in school and in your free time showcase your skills. I highly recommend taking those school projects or tutorials a step further and add your own personal touch. For front-end developers, it can be implementing a nice design you find online. For back-end developers it can be adding some additional functionality. Either way, make sure that the code is readily available in a public repository and that you have at least documented it in README.

Next, consider the transferable skills you developed in other fields or through extra curricular activities. Churning out code is just a fraction of being a developer. Working as a developer means you will be working in a team, and you will have to regularly communicate with stakeholders, such as other developers, project managers and either internal or external customers. Teamwork and communication are soft skills that are not exclusive to software development or even work. You can polish your soft skills in many areas of your life and use them to your advantage when presenting yourself.

What is the mindset for success that helped me, when I was looking for an internship? 

Pasi, our operations lead at Druid, told me recently: “Skills can be taught, attitude is the key”. This sentence was echoed throughout the webinar in various ways. Arinze, who interned at Meta, spoke about being teachable. Amos, a technical recruiter at Microsoft, emphasised the importance of having a “growth mindset”. To me, it all boils down to being curious. If you are applying for an internship, it’s clear that you don’t know everything. It’s normal and perfectly okay to say “I don’t know:” However you should not stop at “I don’t know.” Instead you should say “I don’t know, but I will find out” or “I don’t know, but I will try” . 

The internet is a vast ocean of information. Any problem you come across is rarely unique and if you’re curious enough to search for solutions, you will find them. This blog post, for example, is just one of many results you get when searching for tips on how to get an internship. Then it’s up to you to implement those solutions. Some will work and others won’t but it’s part of being curious and wanting to find out what works.

On a final note, whenever you don’t know something, you can always open your preferred search engine and start typing “How to…”. I do it all the time, alongside “[term I am unfamiliar with] meaning”.


Laurie Lim Sam

Full Stack Developer