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Internship vs Internship

brightdevs profile image bright inventions Originally published at brightinventions.pl Updated on ・4 min read

Hello! I’m Radek and I am a programmer. Employed as a full-time software developer at Bright Inventions… last Monday.

There are plenty of ways to become a programmer. But when you study Computer Science at the University of Technology there’s 99% chance that long before graduating you can get an internship in IT and quickly after a few months - your first full-time job. Like I could. I have gone through two internships, both at seemingly similar companies. After the first one I got an offer to work full-time or part-time, whatever would be more convenient for me to combine my work with studies. I said... no. After the second internship, I couldn’t be happier when I got an offer.

What differs these two?

Everything.

Dear CEO, how-to run an internship.

1. Don’t give Interns made up projects.

Whoa, who does that? Seriously, I got this feeling that it's studies all over again. I didn't come to this job for playing in the sandbox. What’s the reason for that? If you think I’m not good enough for working on a professional project for the client, why did you even employ me in the first place? There is a significant difference between the safe environment for me to learn and some kind of weird incubator with a sign above the door "Future Developer Farm, DO NOT TAP THE GLASS". The project itself was theoretically really interesting, I had some ideas and opinions about it, but after few weeks I asked myself... what’s for? It's highly demotivating knowing your work will be thrown to trash after finishing it and no one will ever use it. At Bright, on the other hand, I was assigned to a real project on the first day. Not alone of course, but it was a clear message that my work is important and needed which filled my motivation bank to the top level. It's really important.

2. Pay them well and treat with respect.

I'm not saying I was treated badly in any way at my first work. But let's clear something up - smiles on the hallway, friendly talks from time to time and even being open for your opinion about the project cannot cover the fact, that if you get the lousy money you feel lousy. And it's not even about how you feel as a person in the company because it affects every life zone. Beginning as an intern from the lowest levels in the company hierarchy comes with the small payment, sure. But 15% of an average Junior JS Developer salary? You simply can't expect it will satisfy anyone, even if it's a student with no professional experience. And don't even try with unpaid internships.

3. Sensitize other employees to be helpful and available for interns.

If you want me to learn, I will. But mostly from the better ones. If you put me in a group of interns only, how can we develop our skills and avoid bad practices in programming? In most cases, there is no way we could learn that from tutorials and figure it out by ourselves. The main purpose of the internship is to fill the small, but the meaningful, gap between developing a project for grades and for a client. We need code reviews, we need feedback and we need it from the very first day. Not only for your final product to be better but for us, so WE could become better. It's a win-win! And if you cannot designate one person for reviews, think of it as an investment. It will pay off, you have my word. Sensitize others to be helpful, at least a few ones. At Bright they know that, duh, I got this feeling I could ask anyone for help and not get ignored, even after asking a hundredth question, which, based on my experience from the previous company, was pretty surprising.

4. Don’t try to be a corporation if you ain’t one.

Honestly, I don't know what makes the company a corporation. But what I know is that it needs something more to evaluate an employee than a report with some fancy charts and official meetings where developers confess their code. I've seen my colleagues explaining at the summary meeting why their work could not be seen on the frontend side of the project. Because they were doing backend and database... Summaries, regularisations, comparisons make you feel like an irrelevant cog ready to be replaced at any moment.
Firstly, understand the nature of the project. Secondly, talk to your interns. If you don't have time, then rely on the people who do, and trust their opinion. And unless you run a company with over 100 employees, don't hide behind the reports and numbers. They lie sometimes.

Summary

I’ve just finished my internship at Bright Inventions. Comparing it with the previous one opened my eyes how working environment influences your attitude to work and your motivation. You can start a new job, motivated to work, with batteries fully charged, but what happens next...

...depends not only on you.

Originally published at brightinventions.pl

By Radek Pieczątkiewicz, Software Engineer @ Bright Inventions
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Discussion (4)

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nickpolyder profile image
Nick Polyderopoulos

I had the numbers 2, 3, 4 on my internship.
At a point i thought that i could not grow any more as a software engineer - coder because i did not had a team that can push me to my limits.
(I couldn't broke through my shell)

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jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr
  1. Most developers working in the uncool environment of corporate IT organizations will soon know the demotivation of having one's work discarded or declared unimportant. Might as well expose interns to it.

  2. Underpaid and overworked is another common element of uncool corporate IT. The sort of upside though is that it is notoriously difficult to bring in interns to this kind of organization. Corporate HR doesn't like it. So, they're usually brought in at the Jr Developer salary level, although that's likely to be 15% to 25% under the intern's salary at a cool software company.

  3. Respect for interns at uncool corporate IT varies by department and manager. Some do a great job at this and others treat them like an annoyance foisted on them by HR.

  4. Another element of uncool corporate IT is being treated like an easily replaceable cog in the machine. Useless, but important to your survival at the company, metrics and creating or sitting through dull PowerPoint presentations rule the day.

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

At my company, MousePaw Media, virtually the only way into the company is via the year-long internship program. As a result, nearly all of our staff has gone through the internship. Thus, they are empathetic and helpful towards interns.

Also, interns always work on real projects, and are treated with the same respect and professional regard as any other employee. In a way, they "employees with training wheels." Certain processes and support structures are in place for interns, to help them learn and master the professional skills they need, and these same support structures can be "kicked loose" as they gain confidence and capability.

In regards to "company" vs "corporation", interns have pointed out that our processes and policies are very organized and polished. This is by design: we are a company of 8-12 people, but we run it so we can handle 80 or 800 under the same administrative bulwark. Yet, in all of this, we ensure everything is people-oriented. (I won't go into all of the unusual details about our management structure, but "people first" is the aim above all.)


As to compensation, we're a startup where everyone (including owners like me) get compensated in equity. Once we start up, interns will be paid competitively. I don't believe that "unpaid" internships are ethical.

The one exception to this rule is internships for credit: we cooperate with local universities to allow students to take part of their internship for college credit. As a rule, every hour worked in our internship program is compensated one way: either in equity (later, cash) or college credit. This setup is not unusual; in fact, some universities don't even allow "paid" internships to be taken for credit.

In the end, an internship should always be measurably compensated. None of this "you're gaining experience, be happy" crap.

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alephnaught2tog profile image
M. Shemayev

OK, but now I really do want a sign that says "Future Developer Farm, DO NOT TAP THE GLASS"...