An important component of being an engineer is getting hands-on experience in the real world, which internships can provide. This is especially true for engineering internships, which are critical for helping students develop real-life skills they can’t learn in the classroom. Sadly the internship market has suffered heavily since the pandemic with internship opportunities dropping by 52%, according to Glassdoor.
The silver lining is that many companies are now transitioning to incorporate virtual internships like we did. Whether you are a student, recent graduate, career switcher, bootcamp graduate, or another type of candidate, our virtual engineering internships are designed to kickstart your career and impact how entrepreneurs around the world do business.
What is it like to be a Shopify intern? During our latest intern satisfaction survey, 98% of respondents said they would recommend the program to friends. There are many opportunities to build your career, make an impact, and gain real-world experience at Shopify. But don’t just take our word for it! Keep reading to see what our interns had to say about their experience and learn how you can apply.
How to Get an Internship at Shopify
If you’re looking to jumpstart your personal growth and start an internship that can help lay the foundation for a successful career, we can help. Interning at Shopify allows you to work on real projects, solve hard problems, and gain practical feedback along the way. We provide the tools you need to succeed and trust you to take ownership and make great decisions. Here’s the steps to getting started.
Step 1: Review Available Opportunities
At Shopify, our engineering internships vary in length from three to eight months, with disciplines such as front-end and back-end development, infrastructure engineering, data engineering, mobile development, and more. Currently we run three intern application cycles a year. Applicants for the Fall 2022 cohort will be able to apply in May of 2022. Join our Shopify Early Talent Community, and we'll notify you. We also list available internships on our Early Careers page, these include a variety of three, four, and eight-month paid programs.
Step 2: Apply Online
Getting a Shopify engineering internship starts with an online application. We'll ask you for your resume, cover letter, contact information, education status, LinkedIn profile, and personal website. You will also be asked to complete an Intern Challenge to demonstrate your interest in the internship topic. This is a great place to show off your love for engineering. Perhaps you have your site using Ruby on Rails. We’d love to hear about it!
Step 3: Get Ready for the Skills Challenge
Depending on your specialization, you may be asked to submit a personal project like a GitHub link so that the recruiter can test your skills. Challenges differ by category, but you might be asked to design a Shopify store or to use a coding language like Python or Ruby on Rails to solve a problem. We want to see that you care about the subject, so be specific and put effort into your challenges to make your skills stand out.
Step 4: Prepare for the Interview Process
Shopify's interview process is divided into two phases. Our first stage allows us to get to know you better. Our conversation is called the Life Story, and it's a two-sided conversation that presents both your professional and personal experiences so far. Our second stage is used to assess your technical skills. A challenge will be presented to you, and you will be asked to propose a technical solution.
Top Skills for Engineering Interns
In a series of recent Twitter discussions from August and January, we asked about the most important skills for an engineering intern. More than 100 hiring managers, engineering professionals, and thought leaders responded. Here’s a summary of the skills they look for, along with how our very own interns have learned and applied them.
When you are working with a team, as most interns do, you need to be able to work together smoothly and effectively. Collaboration can encompass several characteristics, including communication, group brainstorming, emotional intelligence, and more. According to one follower on Twitter: “tech is a small part of software engineering, the valuable part is working well in teams.”
Our interns collaborate with talented people around the world. Emily Liu, a former intern and upcoming UX designer at Shopify, said the core team was spread out across five countries. The time differences didn’t hinder them from collaborating together to achieve a common goal. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” says Emily.
Being a constant learner is one of Shopify's values and is considered a measure of success. As one Twitter follower pointed out, this is especially important in engineering since you should "always be willing to learn, to adapt, and to accept help" and that “even the most senior staff developer can learn something from an intern.”
This is echoed by former intern Andrea Herscovich, who says “if you are looking to intern at a company which values impact over everything, lifelong learning, and entrepreneurship, apply to Shopify!”
Without curiosity, an intern might become stagnant and not stay on top of the latest tools and technologies. Lack of curiosity can hinder an intern's career in engineering, where technological developments are rapid. In a response given by a hiring manager, curiosity is one of the key things he looks for among engineering interns, but says it's hard to find.
Andrea Herscovich also says she was encouraged to "be curious." This curiosity allowed her to build her own path for the internship. A particularly memorable project involved contributing to Polaris, Shopify's open-source design system, says Andrea. When working on adding a feature to a component in Polaris, Andrea learned how to develop for a more general audience.
GitHub is an essential tool for collaborating with other developers in most engineering environments. As one Twitter user says: “I don't care if you got an A+ or C- in compilers; I'm going to look at your GitHub (or other public work) to see if you've been applying what you learned.” At Shopify, GitHub plays an important role in collaboration.
Using GitHub, former Shopify intern Kelly Ma says that her mentor provided a list of challenges instead of clearly-defined work for her to solve. During this time, Kelly had a chance to ask questions and learn more about the work of her team. As a result, she interacted with Shopifolk outside of her team and forged new relationships.
Remote Work Experience
A growing number of engineers are now working remotely. The trend is likely to continue well into the future due to COVID-19. As an intern, you will have the opportunity to gain experience working remotely, which can prepare you for the growing virtual workforce. Perhaps you're wondering if a remote internship can deliver the same experience as an in-person internship?
One former Shopify intern, Alex Montague, was anxious about how a remote internship would work. After completing the program, he told us, "working from home was pretty typical for a normal day at work" and that the tools he used made remote work easy, and he was "just as productive, if not more so, than if I was in the office." Alex is now a front-end developer on our App Developer Experience team, which provides insights and tools to help partners and merchants build and maintain apps.
Today, communication is one of the most important skills engineers can have—and one that they sometimes lack. As one Twitter follower puts it: "nothing in CS you learn will be more important than how to communicate with humans." Fortunately, as an intern, you get the chance to improve on these skills even before you enter the workforce.
Meeting over Google Hangouts, pair programming on Tuple, brainstorming together on Figma, communicating through Slack, and discussing on GitHub are just a few ways that Shopify interns communicate, says Alex Montague. Interns can take advantage of these opportunities to develop core communication skills such as visual communication, written communication, and nonverbal communication.
“Practice interviewing. This is a skill,” one Twitter follower advises. Interviewing well is key to a successful internship search, and it can set you apart from other candidates. At Shopify, the interview process is divided into two different phases. We begin with a Life Story to learn more about you, what motivates you, and how we can help you grow. Our later rounds delve into your technical skills.
As part of his preparation for his Life Story internship interview, Elio Hasrouni noted all the crucial events in his life that have shaped who he is today, starting from his childhood. Among other things, he mentioned his first job, his first coding experience, and what led him into Software Engineering. Elio is now a full-time developer within our Retail and Applications division, which helps power our omnichannel commerce.
Accountability involves taking responsibility for actions, decisions, and failures. For an engineering intern, accountability might mean accepting responsibility for your mistakes (and you’ll make plenty of them) and figuring out how to improve. Acknowledging your mistakes helps you demonstrate self-awareness that enables you to identify the problem, address it, and avoid repeating it.
How do you keep yourself accountable? Kelly Ma credits stretch goals, which are targets that are designed to be difficult to achieve, as a way to remain accountable. Other ways she keeps accountable include exploring new technological frontiers and taking on new challenges. One way that Shopify challenged her to be accountable was by asking her to own a project goal for an entire cycle (six weeks). This process included bringing stakeholders together via ad hoc meetings, updating GitHub issues to convey the state of the goal, and learning how to find the right context.
Tips to Help You Succeed
As you might expect, great internship opportunities like this are highly competitive. Applicants must stand out in order to increase their chances of being selected. In addition to the core skills discussed above, there are a few other things that can make you stand out from the crowd.
Practice Our Sample Intern Challenges
It is likely that we will ask you to participate in an Intern Challenge to showcase your skills and help us better understand your knowledge. To help you prepare, you can practice some of our current and previous intern challenges below.
- Backend Developer Intern Challenge
- Developer Intern Challenge Question
- UX Developer Intern & Web Developer Challenge
Showcase Your Past Projects
You don’t need prior experience to apply as a Shopify intern, but if you compile all your previous projects relevant to the position you're applying for, your profile will certainly stand out. Your portfolio is the perfect place to show us what you can do.
Research the Company
It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with Shopify before applying. Take the time to learn about our product, values, mission, vision, and find a connection with them. In order to achieve success, our goals and values should align with your own.
Want to learn more about Shopify's Engineering intern program? Check out these posts:
- How We Enable Our Interns to Make an Impact
- Shopify Interns Share Their Tips for Success
- How We Support Intern Growth through Challenge and Practice
Want to learn more about the projects our interns work on? Check out these posts:
- A New Kubectl Plugin for Kubernetes Ingress Controller ingress-nginx
- How an Intern Released 3 Terabytes Worth of Storage Before BFCM
- Writing Better, Type-safe Code with Sorbet
- Iterating Towards a More Scalable Ingress
- Dynamic ProxySQL Query Rules
About the Author:
Nathan Quarrie is a Digital Marketing Lead at Shopify based in Toronto, Ontario. Before joining Shopify, he worked in the ed-tech industry where he developed content on topics such as Software Engineering, UX & UI, Cloud Computing, Data Analysis, and Web Development. His content and articles have been published by more than 30 universities including Columbia, Berkeley, Northwestern, and University of Toronto.
If building systems from the ground up to solve real-world problems interests you, our Engineering blog has stories about other challenges we have encountered. Visit our Engineering career page to find out about our open positions. Join our remote team and work (almost) anywhere. Learn about how we’re hiring to design the future together—a future that is digital by default.