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Since the only way into our company at this point is via the internship program, we've had our share of "deer in the headlights" college students start work at MousePaw Games, clutching their programming textbooks to their hearts and staring at everything in wide-eyed wonder (and a dose of culture shock). This is largely metaphorical, of course, since we all collaborate over the internet at this point, but the glazed look is almost invariably present during the first video chat.
To help ease the transition, we maintain friendly, detailed documentation for our processes, workflows, and collaborative tools. I also created a tutorial that walks the intern through the process of setting up and getting comfortable with the tools they'll be using.
After that, we give them one or two fairly straightforward assignments. One is to start reading Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg, which is required reading at our company. That book alone helps onboard new developers to the industry at large - by about halfway through, their idealistic view is pretty much toast, and they can start coming to terms with the real challenges of a live project.
Second, we have them look through some part of the code they'll be working in, usually while adding some simple and straightforward improvements. I'm a stickler for good comments and documentation (if anyone couldn't tell from my "Your Project Isn't Done Yet" article), so that eases the transition into the code. Interns are encouraged to ask questions freely on the collaborative platform, and our staff is always willing to help.
Specialize. I was stretching myself thin, trying to do and learn everything. I found an interest in building specifically for Shopify and jumped on the opportunity to become a Shopify Expert, and the rest is history. Specializing in general allowed me to really hone in on the skills required for the tasks at hand and let somebody else with a stronger interest in other areas excel at those.
Quit my corporate job to do my own thing. I was working for the government as a developer, and there were so.many.hoops to jump through. It took an incredibly long time to get anything done, to explain why I needed specific permissions on my computer to do my job. (For example, I had to complete a 9-page document as to why I needed something other than Notepad for coding.) I waited until I had a solid line of work coming in (in other words, I found myself a retainer client) and then put in my two weeks. It's been a year and a half since I started working 100% for myself and I couldn't be happier with my decision - it came with a significant pay increase, complete freedom over my schedule and selection of projects, and most importantly, really proving to myself that full-time freelancing is a 100% attainable goal.