The skills you’ll need to be competitive when it comes to tech internships are actually a bit more diverse than you’d expect. In the current climate, fulfilling the basic technical minimums is no longer enough to outcompete everyone vying for a position. Many times other skills such as interpersonal skills and leadership make a difference in the application process.

To really stand out to recruiters and interviewers, you’ll want a good fusion of both technical skills and soft skills related to people and communication. The realization of a company’s goals is no longer simply a function of who has the highest technical abilities but also relate to how well a team of people can organize themselves and complement each other. Here are some of the key skills you’ll want to spend time sharpening in college to strengthen your internship applications to tech companies.

Programming Experience

Having a bit of experience about the ins and outs of various programming languages and a sense of familiarity with the uses of each is essential for tech companies. The architecture of the software most tech companies will be designing will probably involve common coding languages such as Java, C, PHP, Ruby, Python, and others.

The easiest way to practice is to take some language-specific computer science courses. In your free time, you’ll want to look for opportunities to help you design software with real-world applications to help broaden and sharpen your programming skills. Github is a common resource for many software developers and programmers to showcase their works for employers by posting the source code for a software for public use.

Show That You Have Experience Solving Real Programming Problems

Programming shouldn’t just be a list of languages or courses you know that sit on a list in a résumé. Tech companies and firms want to see that you’re actually able to use what you’ve learned to the benefit of other businesses and individuals.

It’s easy to find opportunities to solve real-world software and programming problems: just advertise your skills for free. You should aim to build up a sizable following of businesses or individuals that can attest to how your programming expertise or solutions directly helped their business expand or grow.

Mathematical Background

This is another cornerstone of the types of technical abilities that most tech companies will be on the lookout for in applications. If you possess a strong background and foundation in mathematics in general, you will be an asset to a tech company since most technological problems have solutions with underpinnings in math. Coursework in statistics, calculus, and differential equations give companies a baseline for the depth of your technical know-how.

Experience with SEO and Similar Analytics

In comparison to programming knowledge, experience with SEO is a minor skill that still holds a bit of significance. The way that tech companies will determine whether or not hiring you as an intern will benefit them lies in evaluating what you’ve achieved so far as well as your future potential. When a tech company offers you an internship, it’s also partially a future investment to boost your employability.

Possessing an extra skill or two that has wide applications like SEO can really put you ahead of the crowd. It shows employers that you’re a diverse applicant. If you have a background in math and programming, picking up the basics of SEO techniques should be a cinch.

Strong Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the bread and butter for coordinating social tasks and efforts in any company. Many inefficiencies in team management can be traced to deficits in communication and faulty interpersonal relationships that exacerbate conflict. If you can show recruiters or a company that you’ve participated or managed a team effort in relation to programming, it will be a huge boon to your application because it shows that you’re adaptable.


Many big tech companies are well-known for their innovations. Bose’s noise canceling headphone or Tesla’s electric car are flagships in each of their respective fields. The importance of innovation in technology means that leadership is doubly important since leaders guide the direction of that innovation.


Being able to navigate through a number of personal connections to meet the right people is also a big part of how you can set yourself apart during the process of finding that ideal internship. Knowing how to work some magic on platforms like LinkedIn can really get put you ahead of the game if you can find a way to get in touch with the decision makers and executives of a tech company.

The breakdown is that you’ll want both technical skills and soft skills. Your employability will depend on how well you sell your technical skills. Meanwhile, your soft skills help add some flair and uniqueness to your application. Getting an optimal balance of each is important if you want to succeed.

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