We've been running our master's and PhD internship scheme since 2018. In this time, we've reviewed hundreds of applications and hosted more than 40 students from a variety of different backgrounds. Each intern joins our team in Cambridge and works with a dedicated supervisor to help translate their skills and experience into a commercial environment. Over time we've made changes to the scheme as Riverlane has grown- this year we welcomed two interns with a background in design, for example, and we've extended the scheme to our US office in Boston.
We know how many students are passionate and enthusiastic about quantum computing and we've always been surprised and delighted! by the huge interest in our scheme. To help everyone who might want to apply for next year’s scheme, we would like to share our learning about what makes a good internship application.
Here’s a quick summary of what makes a good application rise to the top of the pile.
A passion for quantum computing
The best applications are submitted by students who can demonstrate a sustained interest and passion for quantum computing.
We understand that many applicants may not have had significant exposure to quantum computing at this early stage in their career. However, whether through attending relevant lectures, playing with quantum development packages or joining hackathons, the best candidates are able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the field.
A clear reason for wanting to complete an internship at Riverlane
Many candidates effectively describe the reasons that they are well qualified to apply for the internship but do not tell us why they want to complete an internship or why they want to do it at Riverlane. Good applications explore a few reasons – for example, an interest in topics that Riverlane’s employees work on or the chance to gain industry / start-up experience.
Matching the cover letter to the internship criteria
This is standard advice, but many candidates do not address the criteria outlined in the advert in their cover letter. We asked for evidence of critical thinking and problem-solving ability, strong communication skills, and team-working experience.
We especially enjoy reading applications that provide specific examples to demonstrate these skills. The best applicants also signpost their response to the different criteria by using sub-headings. With a few hundred of applications to read every year, anything that makes it easier for us to navigate a cover letter is a real bonus.
Our 2022 interns
Our interns this year hail from a variety of universities, including Bristol, Oxford, Imperial College, Cambridge, the Open University, and Glasgow School of Art. We have physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and two designers. We’ll report back on their experience over the summer and share what projects they are working on.
In the meantime, we’re thinking about ways to encourage more applications from women, who still represent less than 10% of all applicants. We would also like to increase applications from disciplines outside physics, including maths, computer science, engineering, and chemistry.
Details about our internship schemes can be found here. Our 2023 internship scheme will be advertised in January 2023 with a closing date of mid-February 2023.