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Software Internship: What I've Learned & How it Changed Everything

ggaarryyyy93 profile image Gabe ・3 min read

For those who are struggling to find an internship or just getting a foot in the door, hopefully I can provide some insight from my experience.

My Story

Two months ago I had an internship set up, which was located ~1300 miles from home and was unpaid. I had spent the six months before that applying to every internship opportunity in the area to finish my Associate's degree, but rarely even received a rejection letter. I ended up connecting with somebody who knew my sister and they offered to help me out over the summer, although it was for a very small cyber security company who had no plans on expanding their team.

One week before I was set to leave, I received an email back from a larger insurance company. At this point, I was completely mentally drained and was seriously debating whether or not to even go to the interview. In my mind I figured, "I could just take this other job a few states away and then go from there." To this day, I am so thankful that I decided to show up.

Upon showing up for the interview, I figured out that they weren't looking for somebody who had a 4.0 GPA, could solve some crazy brain teaser or a problem using algorithms & data structures. They were searching for somebody who was willing to learn and they wouldn't dread working with. Fast forward a couple of days and a follow-up email later: I got the offer! Not only was it in my city, it was for a multi-billion dollar company and willing to pay me more than I'd ever made. On top of that, they were on the forefront of the tech scene in the insurance industry!

What I've Learned

When I look back, I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't showed up to that interview. I legitimately enjoy going to work every day and have found some great friends in my fellow interns. As I stated, the managers who interviewed me were looking for somebody who wanted to learn and would embrace any knowledge thrown at them.

I had originally applied for a position as a JavaScript Developer on the Application Development team, which was in the process of rewriting their front-end in Angular 2. Since I showed up my first day, I haven't even touched Angular. I've mainly been working with the integrations team and have worked with the App Dev team's back-end developers as well. The thing is, I wanted to get some experience with back-end technologies, but figured I wouldn't be able to because I had never really ventured outside of front-end technologies.

So, getting to the topic of this section, here is what I've learned over the past couple of months.

  1. As cliche as it is, ask every and any question.
    • Chances are, you're surrounded by experienced developers and they are willing to answer pretty much anything you throw at them. I've embraced this and have learned a lot because of it.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone.
    • I'm about as introverted as one can be, but I've discovered a lot of opportunity through doing this. A quote that I've found to hold true- A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for. Speak up in a meeting or offer up your opinion on a better solution.
  3. Speak up.
    • If you have an idea, share it! One thing I've noticed is that although they're hiring you to develop & potentially find talent, they also want your thoughts on how they can improve as a company. This one is right up there with number 2 for me.
  4. If applicable, befriend your fellow interns.
    • All of you are going through the same process. I have my associate's degree and am interning with somebody getting their master's degree in data science. Bounce ideas off of each other and learn! I've made some good friends that will last beyond this internship.

To Conclude

I've never posted here because I didn't feel I had much to contribute. The process of getting your foot in the door can be tough, and I wanted to share my experience for those who may be going through a similar situation. A lot of what I've learned can be attributed to posts on here, so thank all of you for posting great instructional content!

TLDR; Step out of your comfort zone, suggest your ideas, and great things come to those who wait.

Discussion

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Thanks a lot for sharing! As a fairly new hire myself, I'm guilty of not following steps 1 and 3 as much as I would like to. It does take a bit to break the mental wall, and you've given me a solid reminder to do so.

Also welcome to the community! Looking forward to more of your writing.

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Connor Phee

Awesome read! I've had a very similar experience to you and agree with everything you wrote. Especially about asking questions. I have never received any negative feedback or criticisms for asking. Most of the time, if anyone has anything to say, it's that I should ask more.

Thanks for sharing!