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My First Week as a Software Engineer Intern

Full disclosure: the job hunt during COVID-19 has been quite difficult. I had already anticipated that finding my first career as a software engineer would not be easy... but I didn't think that a worldwide pandemic would happen either.

My heart goes out to all of the people who have been affected by COVID-19. It has changed so much of the world as we know it, and one of the effects was unemployment skyrocketing. I'm sure you've heard or it has affected you or someone you know as well, but it's definitely been quite a challenge.

Because of the situation, I decided to take a few part time positions in order to further my knowledge and experience as a programmer. Hence... I thought it'd be really cool to talk about my first week as a software engineering intern!

I'm only working a few days a week in this position, but I'm confident that it will still be quite a learning experience.

So far this week I was brought up to speed with the codebase, worked on a few main features for the company homepage, and really dove in headfirst with Typescript.

A project that was maybe slated to be done in half a day, took me a day and a half to get 90% the way through. I ended up taking about a few hours for each step of the project because I would have to figure out how the package worked and then figure out how to translate that to Typescript.

But I was very proud after all of this work that the feature was functional! I got a lot of help from my senior engineer and he was very supportive. Though remote, it felt like we were working together and I had a LOT of questions that were successfully answered over Slack.

I even got to work on a little bit of styling (my favorite!), just to fix a dropdown menu on the mobile display. I also wasn't familiar with the css framework that was in place, but again, another great learning experience.

I've definitely never felt like my one of past teacher's signature phrases were more true: I was really drinking from the firehose! Overall though, I'd say it was a successful first week. I learned so much in just a few days, and I was able to actually make valuable contributions to the website right off the bat.

Given that the first week is never easy, being thrown into some very unfamiliar water (or in this case code) is still tough. After talking to a few different software engineers and some friends, it's clear that this is just the norm, and it's best to simply take it one day at a time. But it definitely made for an exciting week.

I think some great takeaways I have and would have let my week-ago self know are:

  • Prepare well for the tech stacks you'll be using and anything else your engineering manager may have mentioned
  • Get enough sleep! Nothing is more difficult than trying to learn a bunch of new things when you're sleep deprived
  • Be kind to yourself. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself, but it's always good to remind yourself that we're always learning and that mistakes and failures are normal and only help to make you better. Know that you're doing your best and it will show in your work.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions! I tend to get hung up on not wanting to seem inexperienced, but with a supportive mentor and StackOverflow on your side, the help is always there for you. If this is the case for you too, don't worry, just ask 😊

The internship and COVID-19 also brought up another interesting point to me, working from home. I just read this article about how on average, more people are happier working from home than going in to the office.

In my personal opinion, I actually quite enjoy the routine of going in to the office. I think that having to physically go to a location for school everyday while at Flatiron really helped me to create a healthy routine. It gave great boundaries to my work space and my home/time off space.

But I can see how working from home would be extremely beneficial for those with kids, pets, or any duties that require a lot of attention. And with everything that has been going on, working from home may become the new norm.

I think that, for myself at least, the perfect formula is a few days in the office and a few days working from home. I know that's asking for a lot, but I think that would be the most optimal balance, where I wouldn't get burnt out from either the commute or overworking at home.

Thanks for reading about my experience and my thoughts on working from home. What are your feelings about all of this? I'd love to hear about how your new position is going, or what your internship experience was like (if you've had one), or your thoughts on working from home. Please share below and have an amazing weekend! 🙌

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