Finding Internship Opportunities as a Freshman / Sophomore

Written in collaboration with ACM at UCLA, SWE @ UCLA, and UPE at UCLA.
See more resources at
https://linktr.ee/CS_Resources_at_UCLA.
Authors: Bonnie L. & Melody C.

We know how challenging it is for underclassmen to search for internships as most companies are generally looking to accept juniors for their internship programs. Nevertheless, there are certain opportunities that are available for underclassmen that we think you should definitely try applying to if you’re looking for an internship opportunity.

Below, we’ve gathered a list of internship opportunities (including experiences from former UCLA interns!) that are great to apply to specifically for underclassmen.

Special thanks to Disha Z., Nicole C., Utsav M., Chloe U., and other anonymous students for providing valuable insights about their internship experiences.

Table of Contents

Freshmen/Sophomore Specific Internships

  • Google STEP Internship*
  • Microsoft Explore*
  • Facebook University*
  • UberSTAR
  • Microsoft New Technologists
  • Amazon Future Engineer Internship
  • Bank of America Global Technology

Programs Known to Accept Freshmen/Sophomore

  • Booz-Allen Summer Games Internship
  • Amazon SDE Internship*
  • Fidelity Investments*
  • Civic Digital Fellowship
  • Prudential Software Development
  • Mitre Student Development Program
  • Johns Hopkins APL College Summer Intern Program
  • IBM Extreme Blue Technical Leadership Program
  • PlayStation
  • Google Summer of Code*

*Insights from former UCLA interns are included.

Freshman/Sophomore Specific Internships

The internships listed below are specifically targeted towards freshmen and/or sophomores. The interviews for these internships are typically easier than regular Software Engineering Internships, but they also have a lot fewer spots available and sometimes are more selective.

We definitely recommend applying to these internships if you meet the qualifications, but we also recommend checking the list below for more non freshman/sophomore specific internship opportunities to apply to.

Google STEP Internship

Application Link: General Information, First Year Application Link, Second Year Application Link

Tip: If the application link is not up yet, you can set up a reminder on the Google Jobs page and receive a notification when the application opens up!

Application Period: September ~ Nov. 1st, 2021

Tip: Google evaluates your application at a rolling basis, so to increase your odds, you should apply as early as possible!

Target Audience: Freshman and Sophomore

Note: Most STEP interns are sophomores. Most freshman interns were part of the Google CSSI program.

Application Materials:

  1. 5 Short Answer Questions (200 words max each)
    Sample Question (taken from previous years):
    “At Google, we believe that a diversity of perspectives, ideas, and cultures leads to the creation of better products and services. Tell us about your background and experiences and how they make you unique.”
  2. Unofficial Transcripts (High School + College)
  3. Resume

Timeline:
This varies person to person, but here’s a sample timeline from someone who got an offer.

  1. Mid-September: Applied online.
  2. Mid-September: Reached out by Google Recruiter to schedule interviews.
  3. Early October: Interviewed.
  4. Early November: Heard back from recruiter with offer.

Interview Process:

Two 45 minutes back-to-back technical interview.

Recruiter will ask you for a two hour block where you are free. The interviews are mostly technical, but oftentimes, interviewers will ask 1–2 short behavioral questions in the start of your interview.

Sample behavioral questions asked:

  • “Why do you want to work for Google?”
  • “Why are you interested in the STEP program?”
  • “Do you prefer to work alone or in groups?”

For each 45 minute interview, you can expect 1–2 technical questions. Typically, the second technical question will be based off of the first one. From former STEP interns, these technical questions are typically of Leetcode Easy-Medium.

Sample technical questions:
Note: these are not questions asked, but question of similar difficulties.

  • Generate Pascal’s Triangle
  • Reverse a Linked List

There is usually 10 minutes at the end of the interview reserved for you to ask questions to your interviewer. So, remember to have some questions prepared!

Microsoft Explore

Application Link: here

Application Period: August ~ December

Tip: Microsoft evaluates your application at a rolling basis, so to increase your odds, you should apply as early as possible!

Target Audience: Freshman and Sophomore

Note: Most Explore Interns are sophomores.

Application Materials: Resume

Timeline:
Note: This varies person to person, but here’s a sample timeline from someone who got an offer.

  1. September: Applied Online
  2. November: Reached out to schedule first round interviews
  3. December: Final rounds onsite interview (in person)
  4. January: Offer

Interview Process:
As of Summer 2020 (may have changed).

First Round: Behavioral 30 minutes phone interview, usually with a recruiter.

Common behavioral questions asked:

  • What is your favorite technology?
  • How would you improve your favorite technology?
  • Why did you choose to study computer science?

Final Round:

Around 2–3 technical and PM-style interviews.

Technical questions are mostly Leetcode-easy level.

Sample technical questions:
Note: these are not questions asked, but question of similar difficulties.

  • Write a program that returns the acute angle between two hands on a clock.
  • Print values in a doubly linked list in descending order.

Sample PM-style questions:

  • If you were given a keyboard, how would you test the keys?
  • In 2 to 3 minutes, explain a computer to a 5 year old who has seen a computer, but doesn’t really understand what it is or does.

There is usually 10 minutes at the end of the interview reserved for you to ask questions to your interviewer. So, remember to have some questions prepared!

Visit this Github Repo for more information about Microsoft’s interview process.

Remote Internship Experience:
Written from perspective of a former intern.

It was a great experience! I thought Microsoft did a really good job of adjusting to the virtual format. Everything was done on teams (meetings, events, messaging). There were still fun intern events, such as intern day and puzzle hunts. Everyone was easy to reach out to and very eager to help out.

The project given was comparable to projects given in previous years, so the quality of work was definitely not compromised, and it was definitely a fun project to work on!

Facebook University

Compared to STEP and Explore, FBU is 8 weeks long instead of 12 weeks.

Application Link: here

Target Audience: Freshman and Sophomore

Application Materials:

  • Unofficial Transcripts (High School + College)
  • Resume
  • Complete CodeSignal Challenge

Timeline:
Note: This varies person to person, but here’s a sample timeline from someone who got an offer.

  1. August: Applied online right when application opened.
  2. October: Completed coding challenge before October 7th.
  3. January: Heard back from recruiter more than three months later.
  4. February: Offer.

UberSTAR

Application Link: here

Application Periods: open now!

Target Audience: Freshman and Sophomore

Application Materials: Resume

Microsoft New Technologists

Compared to Microsoft Explore, this program is only 7 weeks long and the pay is a one-time 8000 dollars stipend.

Application Link: here

Application Periods: late January ~ mid February

Target Audience: Freshman and Sophomore

Application Materials: Resume

Amazon Future Engineer Internship + Scholarship

If accepted, you get both a scholarship and a guaranteed summer internship at Amazon.

Application Link: here

Application Period: Opens November

Target Audience: Freshman who are US Citizens / permanent residents

Application Materials:

  • High School + College transcripts
  • Copy of first two pages of most recently filed IRS Form 1040
  • One recommendation letter

Timeline: Decisions on scholarship recipients will be made by Mid-April

Programs Known to Accept Freshman/Sophomore

The internships listed below are not freshman/sophomore specific but are open to any college undergraduates to apply. But, don’t feel overwhelmed just because they’re not underclassmen specific! These internships are known to accept many underclassmen, so we think you should still apply to them even if you don’t have a lot of technical experience.

Booz-Allen Summer Games Internship

Application Link: https://www.boozallen.com/careers/university-talent/booz-allen-summer-games.html

Application Period: Has not opened up!

Target Audience: Open to all undergraduate students with preference to rising seniors.

Remote Intern Experience: Cancelled 2020 internships.

Amazon SDE Internship

Application Link: here

Application Periods: open now!

Target Audience: All undergraduates.

Amazon is known for taking many sophomores for the past summer in 2020, so don’t be afraid to apply!

Application Materials: Resume

Timeline:
Note: This varies person to person, but here’s a sample timeline from someone who got an offer.

Amazon’s timeline varies significantly from person to person. Sometimes it does not depend on how early you apply.

  1. Early October — Applied
  2. Mid November — Online Assessment
  3. Late December — Interview
  4. Mid February — Offer

Interview Process:

3 Online Assessments

  • OA 1 — Debugging Round (20 minutes)
    - ~7 Debugging Questions in C/C++/Java
    - Find logical errors, change operators, small errors.
  • OA 2 — Technical Round (70 minutes)
    - ~2 Leetcode Easy/Medium questions
    - Sample Questions of similar difficulties: Longest Palindromic Substring, Generate Parentheses
  • OA 3 — Work Simulation (2.5 hours)
    Focus on Amazon Leadership Principles and provide answers based on principles.

Final Round

  • Behavioral Questions (Should try to demonstrate Amazon Leadership Principles)
  • Leetcode Medium-Hard Technical Question

Remote Internship Experience:
Written from perspective of a former intern.

Most verbal communication was through scheduled meetings (ex. standup, design review). Other communication usually was through messaging. Still had access to internal documents, code, tools.

Seems like people’s experience with the internship can vary a lot depending on the team. Other people I know who interned at Amazon had different workloads or expectations.

Overall, I had a very good experience (mentor, team culture, org, project, wlb, etc) but YMMV.

Fidelity Investments

Application Link: here

Application Periods: open now!

Target Audience: All undergraduate students.

Application Materials: Resume

Timeline:
This varies person to person, but it is recommended to apply as early as possible.

  1. Late October — Applied
  2. Early November (1 week later) — Behavioral Hirevue
  3. Early December — Recruiter phone screen
  4. Mid January — Final Round Interview
  5. Late January — Offer

Interview Process:

  1. Behavioral Hirevue

Questions to prepare for:

  • Why Fidelity?
  • Discuss a time you worked on something challenging or new.
  • Discuss a time you had a disagreement with a teammate and how did you handle this?

2. Recruiter Phone Screen

  • Very general, casual phone screen with questions based on resume.

3. Final Round

  • Interview with hiring manager.
  • Mostly behavioral questions about projects and past experience.
  • May have some technical questions (no coding) related to object oriented programming (ex: describe inheritance).

Remote Internship Experience:
Written from perspective of a former intern.

Because of the switch to the remote environment, Fidelity’s intern program was altered slightly. Instead of having interns work on personal projects, they were integrated with the great team instead, working directly with mentors on the same internal codebase.

Overall the internship went very smoothly! Most communication was facilitated through Teams and Zoom.

Civic Digital Fellowship — Coding it Forward Internship

“Technology internship program for innovative students to solve pressing problems in federal agencies.”

Application Link: here
Internship application not yet opened for Summer 2021. Subscribe here for notification.

Application Period: July — August (previous years, timeline may have changed due to Covid-19)

Target Audience: US Citizens graduating no earlier than October 2020.

Timeline: (Based on their website)

  1. July — Application opens.
  2. Early August — Interview with teams.
  3. Mid-Late August — Second round interviews with specific agencies.
  4. Late-August — Receive your offer.
  5. Early September — Security clearance process.

Remote Internship Experience: Internship for Summer 2020 was delayed until Fall 2020 due to COVID-19.

Prudential Software Development Internship Program

Application Link: here

Application Periods:

  • Period 1: July 15, 2020 to September 1, 2020
  • Period 2: September 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020
  • Period 3: October 1, 2020 to November 1, 2020

Target Audience: All undergraduate students.

Mitre Student Development Program

Application Link: here

Application Periods: Application not yet opened. Expect to open in the Fall.

Target Audience: US Citizens who are undergraduate students.

Timeline:

  1. Expect to hear back with an offer by early February.
  2. All opportunities will be filled by April 15.

John Hopkins APL College Summer Intern Program

Application Link: here

Application Period: September 1, 2020 — March 31, 2021

Target Audience: US Citizens, all undergraduate students with minimum 3.0 GPA.

IBM Extreme Blue Technical Leadership Program

Application Link: here

Application Periods: open now!

Target Audience: All undergraduate students.

Application Materials: Resume

PlayStation

Application Link: here

Application Periods: open now!

Target Audience: undergraduate or graduate students

Application Materials: Resume

Google Summer of Code

This opportunity is remote every year.

Application Link: here

Application Periods: mid-March to late-March

Timeline:
This varies person to person, but here’s a sample timeline from someone who got an offer.

  1. Applied online right when application opened.
  2. Heard back from recruiter about a month later.

Target Audience: Anyone interested in open source projects

Application Materials:

  • Online application
  • Project description