Your first data science internship: 5 things I had to learn twice

So far, I have worked as an intern in data science twice. Once at the German Federal Bank, and the other time at Lidl.

Interning in data science is valuable and helps you learn programming fast. At its core, I worked on data science projects for 7 months for 40 hours a week, while getting payed, experiencing new cities, and meeting great people.

You might face the start of such an internship or a similar job soon – What do you need to expect? What should you be aware off?

Here, I break down 5 things that I learned in my two adventures.

*1.    *Getting up and running takes a few weeks:

To my surprise, getting all the account information and credentials takes time.

In my experience that is normal. Security is a big topic for big organizations, so expect a bumpy start. Your main task for the first two weeks is to get accustomed with how we do things, and to get all your log-ins.

2.   You’ll meet many natural scientists:

As somebody from the domain of business and economics, it was suprising to that I worked a lot with mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists.

Turns out they are great programmers and excellent at math.

I recommend to learn from their way of thinking, and to learn about their educational background. The base color is data science itself, but it is invaluable to learn about the different shades it can take on.

3.   Embrace remote work:

To be fair, this might be due to Covid, yet I experienced a big flexibility because of remote work and enjoyed it. However, you will need to have a plan about it. As a student coming into an organization, remote work is not the same as remote studying. You have more responsiblity, and actually need to show up. Set up a plan for yourself that works, and balance the post-lunch runs with the evening coding session.

4.   Everybody is nervous – Get ahead of the pack:

You will meet many new faces, this is not surprising as you are “the new intern”. Embrace this role. Before your first day, take a quiet minute and think about your 2-minute introduction. In the heat of the moment everybody starts choking. Have a standard answer to fall back on, for the inevitable “tell us a bit about yourself”.

This holds even more if you are in a group of interns: Make the first step, and ask your fellow students what their name is, where they got their education, and with whom they will be working: Afterwards, the conversation usually takes care of itself.

5.   Bring a pen and a paper everywhere:

You will encounter boatloads of new information: Packages you haven’t heard off, business software, names of servers, account credentials, wi-fi passwords, abbreviations, important people, departments, buildings, other companies …

All of this rains down on you in the midst of trying to leave a good impression and look smart. You have no chance at memorizing all that stuff.

Your best bet is to write it down.

Bonus:   Make sure to charge your laptop:

At Lidl I got a MacBook for the duration of my internship. But, then Windows-me had no idea that a MacBook sometimes does not shut down at night, leaving you with an empty battery the next day.

Great news, if you did not bring your charger to your first meeting either.

I am very greatful for my time at the German Federal Bank and Lidl. Write me an email at finn@ds-econ.com, if you want some more information about what I did there, or if you want to apply there yourself.


Have you done an internship before? Where? What was your experience, would you do it again? Let me know in the comments below!