Why Your Startup Should Hire a Software Engineer Intern

Rod Danan


November 28, 2023

Today, every company is run like a software company. Many of the biggest tech giants on earth, like Facebook and Google, started out with a simple software product. Their founders were coders that built the first versions.

Then of course, they hired great engineers. Many of whom started as interns.

Interns can be hired at affordable hourly rates, brought on to help with specific projects or for months at a time, and bring energy and enthusiasm in addition to hard skills and unique perspectives.

To understand the impact these engineers can have, we must start at the root. Software.

The Impact of Software Engineers

Every website or tech device you use has (or had) a software developer involved.

Most software developers have a background in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or statistics. They can code using programming languages, build websites and digital assets, debug problems, and troubleshoot their way out of most technical issues.

Soft skills include analysis, teamwork, management, problem solving, and communication. They can use these skill sets to build software, run databases, and manage web pages. Often, they work collaboratively with a scrum team to develop software and maintain software. In short, they do a lot.

Why Hire a Software Engineer Intern?

Okay, so software is important but why a software engineer intern over other options? Here a few reasons.

Early Help Before Funding

As a tech startup founder, you have to be conservative with your cash. This makes building a product that will change the world harder, as you likely won't be able to afford full-time development employees right away. Bringing an intern on early can help keep initial costs down.

Interns can share the workload and ensure your employees don’t suffer burnout. Hand over more rote, straightforward tasks to new interns who are eager to learn and develop.

Create a Talent Pipeline

An internship allows you to see firsthand how an individual works. Instead of guessing how that person will perform based on a few rounds of interviews, an internship gives you a more accurate assessment of on-the-job preparedness.

Internships also allow you to assess how well that engineer will fit with your team. Since you will spend many hours building a startup, you want to make sure you have the right people by your side. Temporarily employing a candidate gives you a clear view of how they might add insight and perspective to your team, and how well they mesh with other members. And, if you decide to hire them full-time them, onboarding will be a breeze.

Learn through mentorship

Interns aren't the only team members that learn a lot during their time. Employers who serve as mentors also gather a lot by helping others through work processes – from onboarding to day-to-day systems. Working with an intern is a give-and-take affair as the intern and employer both help one another stress test systems and identify areas of improvement. It can also be an opportunity to assess the managerial leadership skills of your existing employees.

Where to Find a Developer Intern

Finding interns can be a full-time job in itself. Here are some ideas to help you find interns that best-suits your needs.

Connect with Colleges

Find a nearby college that runs a computer engineering program and connect with them. Other courses like computer science, mathematics, and statistics may have students who can deliver the goods.

Many colleges require students to complete internships with companies to graduate. Because of this, they are incentivized to partner up with organizations that offer formal opportunities. It's almost always a win-win situation for both the college and your startup. However, such partnerships may be difficult for early-stage startups with no track record as colleges sometimes prefer their students to work with established brands.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most effective business and employment platforms. No wonder it has close to 700 million users from over 200 countries on the platform.

The platform offers several helpful features, including "Life at" tabs and sponsored posts to help with employer branding and hiring needs. After creating a company page, you can put out a job post and invite applicants.

Use Prentus

Whether you're seeking an intern or full-time employee, the Prentus team can support you. Find and hire actively seeking tech talent across hundreds of talent partners and get 4x the response rate from candidates that actually fit your needs.

Prentus offers a job board, candidate management and talent discovery tools, and events.

To get started, just create a Free Company Profile by syncing your company's LinkedIn profile, start partnering with Prentus Communities that meet your criteria, and start sharing internship roles, attending events, and requesting interviews with candidates.

What You Should Look For in An Intern

Technical Skills

An intern should be able to code a basic project in at least one programming language. Preferably, the language you are using for your product.

Beyond a language, some critical technical skills that a software engineer intern should be familiar with are:

  • Object-oriented design (OOD)

  • Software testing and debugging

  • Problem-solving and logical thinking

Some common skills you will see for web apps are Javascript, React.js, and Node.js. Mobile developers need to know Swift or React Native. And no matter who you hire, they need to know SQL or NoSQL for databases.


In your interview, find someone with interest in learning, exploring, and engaging with the team they work with. The intern will need time to learn how your business units function and collaborate, what types of projects you all take on, and what your growth goals are like.

Ask questions related to their experience working cross-functionally, solving problems with colleagues who have different communication styles, and managing projects that involve different departments.


No software problem is going to be solved in a day. Often there are many iterations and tests before solutions are discovered. This might involves hours of deep Google searches. Focus on the software engineer intern that can calmly work through problems.

Ask questions about their ability to manage multiple tasks at once, prioritize based on timelines, and work through problems with diligence and perseverance.


What sets the top companies apart from the rest? The answer is simple: creativity and innovation. As long as you are in the same market, you are solving similar problems as your competitors. But the company that solves it best and more creatively is likely to win the heart of the clients. Creative software engineers can help you find innovative solutions that answer the pain-points of your clients.

Ask candidates questions about their experience thinking outside the box, or coming up with a new approach to an existing problem.

Other skills that a good intern should have are the ability to take initiative, time management, critical thinking, research, and analysis, amongst others.

What next?

You should realize how important building great software is to a startup. The way to building great software is through investing in great people. Interns are a way to invest early and get the greatest return for your business. While you might think it's only for the biggest businesses, Prentus makes it accessible for everyone.

Rod Danan is Founder & CEO of Prentus. He has built digital products before using software developers and learned what to look for in candidates. Feel free to email him at rod.danan@prentus.co with questions.

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© 2023 Prentus. All rights reserved.

The all-in-one career success platform to get from learning to earning using the power of AI, community, and you.

Chat with us here or on social

© 2023 Prentus. All rights reserved.

The all-in-one career success platform to get from learning to earning using the power of AI, community, and you.

Chat with us here or on social

© 2023 Prentus. All rights reserved.

The all-in-one career success platform to get from learning to earning using the power of AI, community, and you.

Chat with us here or on social

© 2023 Prentus. All rights reserved.