Unlocking your future: Embrace the journey of a summer internship with HPCC Systems

In this fast paced and dynamic era, internships are transformative experiences that bridge the gap between classroom learning and the demands of the professional landscape. Embarking on the path of professional growth and development is a thrilling journey, and what better way to kickstart this adventure than through a summer internship program?

The HPCC Systems summer internship program is a 12 week paid and remote internship where students work closely with a mentor from our team during the summer to develop a big data project using the open source technology HPCC Systems. The program started in 2015 with the end goal of contributing to the HPCC Systems open source community and to prepare students to become the new generation of technologists. A complete and historical view of the internship program is available in our student wiki.

This blog aims to inspire and guide students through the process of applying for a summer internship with HPCC Systems. Whether you are a seasoned student seeking to refine your skills or a freshman eager to explore your chosen field, this blog will provide insights, tips, and encouragement to navigate the internship application process with confidence. More specifically, this blog will cover the following topics:

So let’s delve into the world of the HPCC Systems summer internship—a realm of growth, learning, and the limitless possibilities that await you!

Am I eligible and a good fit for the program?

The HPCC Systems summer internship program accepts students from high school through PhD levels that are interested in contributing to the open source community and pursuing a future carrier in the IT industry. Given our global presence and our network of partner companies we can accept students from different countries around the globe as long as they are authorized and available to work 40 hours per week during the summer in the northern hemisphere. This timeframe usually corresponds to the period between the end of May and the end of August of every year, but we are flexible and capable of accommodating start and end dates a few weeks earlier or later than that to match the period when your school is not in session.

The skills expected from the HPCC Systems summer interns tend to vary according to the project that the student decides to select. Broadly speaking, from a soft skills perspective, and since this is a remote program, you are expected to be a good communicator. For instance, being able to communicate clearly with the mentor via email, instant messaging or even via video conferencing during the daily calls is key for the success of the project.

From a hard skills perspective, typically, students who apply for an HPCC Systems internship intend to or are already studying a STEM related subject, such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics, information technology, engineering etc. All these subjects generally involve studying some degree of software development including programming skills, which are usually necessary for students to be able to successfully complete their projects. It is also ok if you have acquired software development skills by yourself and not via your regular studies. Along these lines, basic understanding of HPCC Systems is usually a very welcome and useful knowledge that will help you stand out from the crowd. And to assist you in acquiring this knowledge, we offer a very comprehensive set of free and self-paced online courses that the student can leverage to learn HPCC Systems even before joining the internship program.

What is the type of work an HPCC Systems intern develops?

Generally speaking, projects related to the HPCC Systems open source initiative, but you can approach these projects from the perspective of several different roles in the IT industry, such as software engineering, data engineering/science, web development,  QA, and DevOps. And very important: you choose which project to work on!

To help you in your journey of selecting the ideal project, every year, HPCC Systems publishes a list of projects which are designed to be completed by students during the internship. These ideas represent a starting list containing projects that will directly contribute to the HPCC Systems open source community. You are also welcome to suggest your own idea as long as it provides a similar contribution, and we are able to pair you with a mentor with the required knowledge to support your project.

If you want to learn about the types of projects the interns complete with us, see the contributions our Class of 2023 made to the HPCC Systems open source project. You can also navigate the complete list of projects completed by previous interns and read what they have to say about their internship experience.

How does the application process work?

The application process consists mainly in three steps:

  1. First, you need to select one project idea, either from the list that we publish or an idea of your own that is relevant and of interest to the HPCC Systems open source project.
  2. Then you need to work with your designated mentor to write a project proposal that details how you plan to complete your project.
  3. Once you and the mentor agree on the proposal content, you then apply to the internship using our careers website before the deadline specified in the internship job posting. During the application process you will be asked to attach your finalized project proposal and your resume.

After we receive your application, we will review your proposal, and if you are selected, we will invite you for an interview within a couple of weeks. In the case that you are accepted into the program, you will be notified of your acceptance as soon as we reach a final decision but no later than 30 days before the start date of the internship. We generally award at least ten internships to a mixture of high school, undergraduates, masters, and PhD students.

Please Note: We do offer places in the intern program in advance of the final deadline date to students who submit an excellent proposal we know we want to accept.

Ok, so how do I get started with my proposal?

The first step is to review the list of project ideas that we provide in the student wiki to identify a project in an area of interest to you and whose prerequisites matches your background. Each project idea has its own description page supplying enough information to help you get started, such as the requirements of the project, its main deliverables, a list of important resources to be studied, and the contact information for the mentor(s) of the project.

It is important to note that we are regularly adding new project ideas to the list, so it’s always worth checking back for updates.

Once you have chosen a project, start trying to outline the tasks required to complete the project including a timeline showing what will be completed during each week. We don’t necessarily expect you to have all the answers in your proposal, but we do need to see evidence of your ability, genuine interest, and you also need to demonstrate your understanding of the project and its potential challenges. For guidance on what you should include in your proposal see the instructions on our wiki and explore an example proposal.

While you’re working on your proposal, do strike up a conversation with the project mentor who can answer any questions you have that will help you to improve your proposal before submitting your final version. You can contact the project mentor using the details provided in the project description page and we strongly recommend students to leverage the mentor’s assistance while developing their proposals.

Your teacher or professor is also a good resource for help. They may want to co-mentor you during your internship alongside your HPCC Systems mentor which we find works very well. A number of professors and teachers have contributed to our intern program in this way in previous years.

If you decide to work on a project idea of your own, the process is quite similar with the exception that you will need to contact us upfront at students@hpccsystems.com to share the details of your idea or your preliminary proposal so we can identify a potential mentor with expertise in your chosen project area.

So, here’s a proposed workflow for you to develop your proposal and submit your application to the internship program:

  1. Choose a project from our list or a project from your own.
  2. Contact the project mentor, introduce yourself and talk through your ideas. If you are suggesting your own project, contact us and we will find you a mentor to assist.
  3. Check the proposal guidelines and example proposal to make sure you know how to prepare a good quality proposal.
  4. Prepare a draft proposal and send it to the project mentor for review.
  5. Update your draft if necessary, get the final version along with your resume and apply in our careers website by the final deadline date.

I have been accepted! What happens next?

Once you are accepted, you will be notified by email, and we will send you a preliminary offer letter detailing the conditions of the internship. After this preliminary offer letter is accepted, we then engage our hiring partners to initiate your onboarding.   

A few weeks before your official start date, we will invite you to a welcome meeting so we can start working on the setup of your infrastructure and to share any additional training resources that we feel might be needed for you to hit the road running on the very first day of your internship.

During the internship, you will continue to work alongside your mentor in the same way as our developers, using the same tools, checking in code in GitHub and going through the same code review process.

It’s really a great opportunity to work directly with knowledgeable, experienced software developers and architects while being exposed to what it’s like to work in a real world development environment. In fact, you basically join the HPCC Systems platform development team as a developer for 12 weeks.

The requirement to submit a proposal makes certain that you and your mentor have a good idea of what needs to be achieved during the internship. Supplying a timeline means that when the internship starts, you already know what the first tasks should be.

Now we’re talking research and development here, so sometimes the nature of a project can change based on what is discovered along the way. But this isn’t a problem. Your mentor will work closely with you and can spot this happening, working with you to revise the plan and helping you to keep moving forward. Obviously, communication is key, so regular contact with your mentor is crucial and weekly status reports and meetings help everyone to stay in the loop.

If you want to know more about the day to day routine of the internship, find out in this blog what remote working is like for an HPCC Systems intern.

Getting involved in our community and future opportunities

The summer months offer a unique window of opportunity to dive into internships, where learning goes beyond textbooks and lectures. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a real work environment, interact with industry professionals, and discover the intricacies of your chosen field.  

As an intern with HPCC Systems, you will work with a mentor, contributing to a thriving open source project alongside an experienced development team. But it doesn’t have to stop there. A couple of other ways you can get involved in our community during and after your internship include:

Finally, there is always the potential of a great future with HPCC Systems waiting for you once you’ve graduated. We have welcomed a number of past interns into the RELX family over the years and they continue their successful journey with us. I am sure that you can be our next successful story!

If you want to stay in touch and get updates about the HPCC Systems summer internship program, subscribe to our Community Newsletter and look out for announcements on FacebookLinkedIn, and other social media outlets.