Making the most of student internships
For her first internship, Chikarmane participated in The Explore Microsoft program,a 12-week summer internship specifically designed for first- and second-year university students. The program allows interns to gain experience in different software engineering roles and is also designed to give experience with programming languages in the field of software development. On-the-job learning is augmented with mentoring, community building, and networking opportunities.
For her second placement at Microsoft, Chikarmane worked as a Software Engineering Intern.
She hopes her success helps motivate other students to put themselves out there through the internship and job-seeking process.
“I knew standing out to the bigger companies would require much more effort,” says Chikarmane, whose research is focused on artificial intelligence. “I was really on top of when new internship opportunities would be released, and I put a lot of effort into the Microsoft application. And if that one didn’t work out, I was going to keep pushing for other companies.”
She explains she also didn’t know many people in the technology world before this process but used LinkedIn to her advantage. She encourages other student looking for an advantage to try something similar.
“The process I used was generally to search for people in the positions I wanted or the company I was looking at. I would send them a note giving them some insight into what I was looking for adding I would love the opportunity to ask them some questions. If they added me, I would schedule a call with them on Zoom and after our chat, they would offer to refer me, or I would ask for the reference myself.”
She also joined the Microsoft University Recruiting Team on LinkedIn, where they have posts that outline monthly virtual events you can attend. These events let you drop off your resume as well, so they not only see it, but they know that you are invested.
“You have to remember though you aren’t going to get every opportunity you deserve,” she adds, “but you need to continue working, making connections, doing your research, and being active and aware of the opportunities.”
When asked what the most unique part of her internship was, Chikarmane says it was meeting Queen’s University alumni Perry Clarke, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Office 365 Online Services at an intern event.
Students interested in learning more about the internship application process can read Chikarmane’s story in her own words in her blog.