*This article has been reblogged from Mashable

Research shows that the top 25 highest paying companies for interns are dominated by tech companies, including Facebook, Blackrock, Palantir and Amazon. It’s easy to see why: From 2010 to 2020, computer-related occupations are expected to grow 22%, compared to the 14% projected growth of all other occupations.

If you’re a young professional interested in tech, it may be wise to turn to the startup world in lieu of more traditional jobs. New startups add an average of 3 million jobs in their first year, and one-year-old tech startup firms create about 1 million jobs, while 10-year-old firms generate around 300,000 positions.

An internship at a hot tech startup can be the ultimate resume builder — and may be the key to eventually landing a full-time position. Below are a few tips for getting your foot in the door.

1. Go beyond the classroom

Landing an internship in the tech industry can be difficult, especially with the level of talent you may be up against; but if you have the right skills and tools in your arsenal, you may be able to stand out among the sea of coders, developers and website administrators.

Studies show that knowledge and mastery of JavaScript, Java/J2EE, Ruby and PHP (among other programming languages) are highly coveted skills in the tech industry. Even if you have to learn these skills on your own time, your efforts will ultimately make you more attractive to an internship employer.

2. Remember it’s not always about Facebook and LinkedIn

You probably have a presence on LinkedIn or Facebook — but now is a good time to expand your social presence to the platforms on which tech professionals spend a great deal of time. As you begin exploring tech internship opportunities, think about creating a profile on GitHub or engaging in the community on Stack Overflow. These “non-traditional” and niche social networking tools will help you get a better feel for the tech community, and you’ll learn about new products, obtain software details and source advice from leading tech professionals.

3. Showcase your talents by participating in hackathons

Hackathons allow internship employers to see students and young professionals pitch, program and present certain ideas or solutions to a problem. Think of these events as places where you can impress a tech leader with your critical thinking skills and industry knowledge. Companies like Microsoft are known for their involvement with hackathons, and events like Startup Weekend or StartupBus can help you garner meaningful experiences and forge lucrative connections.

4. Nab the industry lowdown

Joining a professional club or organization can sometimes be your ticket to a coveted tech internship. Not only can you learn which courses to take, with whom to network and how to pitch your experience, but you can also speak directly with alumni and learn an immense amount about a company’s application and interview process. Great organizations to look into include the Association for Women in Computing (AWC), Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), or your Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate/Graduate Student Association.

In addition, many companies send recruiters specifically to meet students in university clubs. For example, New York University’s WinC chapter has worked with companies such as IBM, Google, Morgan Stanley and Microsoft to organize recruiting and internship events, academic panels, technical workshops, company visits, programming contests and scholarships.

5. Get in front of influencers

An ideal time to meet recruiters, learn about application processes and begin building relationships is at career fairs, which can either be in-person or virtual. While many career fairs are seasonal, they almost always correlate with a specific application period, so be sure to check company websites for attendance information. Keep this schedule in mind as a guide:

Another great strategy is to apply just before or after the career fair, and follow-up with the recruiter using LinkedIn or GitHub. This allows you to stand out in a recruiter’s mind and keep the conversation going after the event itself.

6. Go to the epicenter of the industry

Although many tech companies may offer virtual internships, the majority are still located in areas like Silicon Valley or New York City. While it may seem intimidating, try to be open to relocation while searching or interviewing for an internship. Not only will you have an easier time landing an internship at a hot tech startup, being at the epicenter of the tech industry will allow you to meet influencers and build your credibility. Further, some companies will take on relocation and housing costs (or at least offer a stipend), which can take the burden off moving.

7. Realize that being an expert isn’t enough

It’s not enough to be a great coder or an expert in Java; your competition is just as smart as you are. It’s not enough to be a great coder or an expert in Java; your competition is just as smart as you are. While there are plenty of students and young professionals who are tech wizards, not everyone can speak to interesting projects they completed while in school or the range of classes they have under their belt.

For instance, taking courses in behavioral psychology or mobile development not only make you more well-rounded, they allow you to offer transferrable skills to an organization. These courses could make you into a mobile UX expert, help you to understand the buying cycle or give you some insight into consumer behavior. You can also join clubs like Toastmasters to improve your public speaking and leadership skills. Ultimately, these experiences and a variety of skills in different areas of expertise make you more valuable and will take you further than technical knowledge alone.
photo credit: CJS*64 via photopin cc