How to Land a Machine Learning Internship: A 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Gain work experience, expand your professional network, and set yourself up for success with a machine learning internship. Learn more about what they are and how to land one.

[Featured image] A machine learning intern wearing glasses and a grey hoodie sits in front of a laptop.

Machine learning lies at the heart of many of the goods and services we use every day, from the search engines we rely on for research at school and work to the video streaming platforms we relax with at night. As machine learning models become more and more important to businesses around the world, there's a need for machine learning professionals to train, design, and deploy them.

If you’re working toward a career in machine learning, an internship could help you gain the experience you'll need to succeed in the field.

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about machine learning internships, including their benefits, duties, and the skills like data science you'll use on the job. Let's get started.

Overview of machine learning internships

A machine learning internship can help you lay the groundwork for future professional success. Here’s what you need to know about what you’ll do and the skills you’ll need.

What does a machine learning intern do?

The duties and responsibilities you’ll perform as a machine learning intern will vary from one internship to another. But, some general tasks you may perform include the following: 

  • Designing and implementing machine learning models in cloud-based environments

  • Adapting and developing ML algorithms for business purposes 

  • Supporting development or engineering teams to complete projects

Skills for landing a machine learning internship

Whether you’re an aspiring data scientist or an AI engineer hoping to one day work on computer vision, the skills you’ll hone in a machine learning internship can help set you up for future professional success.

Here are just some of the technical and people skills you’ll likely need to use in your internship: 

  • Knowledge of programming languages such as R, Python, Java, or C/C++

  • Experience building models with deep learning frameworks like Tensorflow 

  • Knowledge of relevant statistical, mathematical, and computational concepts

  • Ability to collaborate with others and work on a team

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

  • Curious disposition that allows you to think both critically and outside the box

Read more: Machine Learning Skills: Your Guide to Getting Started

Benefits of a machine learning internship

In addition to having a related job title that you can add to your resume, you’ll gain real-world work experience, professional networking opportunities, and the chance to hone important workplace skills like collaboration and communication. 

Internships supplement the training you have received in school with real-world work experience that gives you a taste of what your professional future may look like. 

Read more: 7 Internship Interview Questions and How to Answer Them


How to find a machine learning internship 

There are two primary ways to find an internship online: by searching on a dedicated job posting site such as Indeed or LinkedIn or by searching for them on a company’s dedicated job page. Here’s how you can do both.

Search job posting sites

To find a machine learning internship on a job posting site, go to your site of choice and simply search for “machine learning internship.” From there, you can view a list of currently available internships.

Some popular websites to search for internships include: 

Explore a company's careers page

To find an internship on a business’ dedicated job page, go to a search engine, such as Google, and simply search “[business’ name] jobs.” Once on the dedicated job page, search for “machine learning internship” and see if any are available. You might also consider searching for a related position, such as “machine learning engineer internship” or “data science internship.”

Read more: How to Find a Job: Tips to Expand Your Search

Machine learning internship requirements 

The requirements for a machine learning internship vary greatly from one to another. 

While some require you to be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program, others might only require that you be in a bachelor’s program. Typically, you can expect that internships will require you to be pursuing a degree in a field related to machine learning, such as computer science or data science. 

Keep in mind that all internships will likely require that you have some understanding of programming languages like Python or R, working with ML algorithms and training ML models, and are comfortable working with various types of data.

Read more: Is Machine Learning Hard? A Guide to Getting Started

Tips for applying to a machine learning internship

It’s always important to put your best foot forward when applying for an internship. To help you do just that, here are some key things you should keep in mind throughout the process:

  • Apply ahead of time. Many internships start looking for candidates well before the start date, so make sure to apply well in advance for the internship. Many summer internships, for example, start looking for applicants as early as spring or early winter. 

  • Apply to multiple internships. Machine learning internships can be highly competitive, so it’s wise to apply to many different ones to increase your chances of being accepted.

  • Use a portfolio. One of the best ways to highlight your skills is through a portfolio that showcases related machine learning projects you’ve done in the past.

  • Use your personal network to find opportunities. One of the most valuable resources for finding a suitable internship is your existing network of peers, mentors, and professional contacts. 

  • Ask for recommendation letters early. Some internships may require that you provide a letter of recommendation when applying, so it’s important to source those recommendations early enough in the process to meet the application deadline. 

  • Tailor your resume and cover letter. Make sure to tailor both your resume and cover letter to each internship and to proofread all your materials before submitting them. 

Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter and Get Noticed

Get job-ready with Coursera 

Internships can be a stepping stone to a future career as a machine learning professional. Get ready for your next internship by taking a cost-effective online course through Coursera. 

Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning Specialization provides a broad introduction to modern machine learning, including supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and some of the best practices used in Silicon Valley for artificial intelligence and machine learning innovation. 

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