The past five weeks have gone by incredibly fast. I. Am. Halfway. Through. My. Internship.
For the past five weeks, I’ve been interning as a software developer for Vistaprint; they’re an e-commerce company which started out by selling business cards. They’ve recently passed the $1 Billion revenue mark, which is pretty freaking incredible. Although Vistaprint is most well-known for their business cards, they actually sell products ranging from t-shirts to calendars; basically anything that could be used as promotional or marketing material for micro businesses and individual consumers. I’m not sure how much of the project I am allowed to tell other people about, but if all works out the way I hope it will, then it will turn out to be something pretty useful.
When people ask me how my internship has been so far, this is what I tell them: “It’s kinda like taking an independent study class, except that you have a professor who has office hours from 9 to 5.”
Learning in class and working on course assignments is fun and useful, but without being able to actually apply them to real life, you don’t really get to see the importance of it all. I’ve made a ridiculously high number of naïve decisions and dumb mistakes in the past five weeks, which is not great because I feel really, extremely, stupid at times (for instance, I keep mistaking the | bitwise operator with the || or operator—stupid, I know), but it’s amazing because I wouldn’t have learnt about certain things without making those mistakes. As Mohnish Pabrai puts it, “Mistakes are the best teachers. One does not learn from success. It is desirable to learn vicariously from other people’s failures, but it gets much more firmly seared in when they are your own.” I’m glad I’m making these stupid mistakes sooner rather than later.
As a new developer at Vistaprint, I get a ‘buddy’, who is basically an employee at Vistaprint who’s been there for a couple years, who’s there to help you within the first couple months. As my buddy Marc puts it, he’s “the person it’s always OK to interrupt with questions, no matter what.” Being the young and naïve eighteen year old that I am, I had a ton of stupid questions during my first few weeks (I still have a lot now) and I’m glad I have a buddy whom I can bombard with questions. I think part of the reason why I’ve learnt so much is because of the buddy program. (Thanks for being so patient and kind, Marc!)
Working 9-5 as a developer for the past five weeks has taught me a couple things. Namely:
- Working isn’t easy. When I was younger, I was always so confused when I see my dad coming home from work, all tired and whatnot. Now I know; it’s mentally draining. (Sitting in front of a workstation for 8 hours a day is very consuming? Yes, trust me). Some days I get home and end up going to bed at 9.30pm, which, on a normal weekday, doesn’t normally happen…I usually don’t sleep until it’s past midnight.
- I need to step up my mature conversation skills. I’m in a workplace with a variety of colleagues; some are straight out of college and some have been with the company for over eight years. I get to work with people who are old enough to be my parents, and I seriously don’t know what to say during conversations where the topic is ‘kids’. I mean, dammit, I’m still a kid. Also, how do I ask people whether they’re married or not, or how many kids they have without sounding weird?
- I think I would love to work as a developer for an extended period of time. I think made the right decision by choosing to study computer science. Software developing is genuinely a really fun, challenging, and intellectually stimulating thing to do, and I wouldn’t mind doing it for a living. However…
- With that being said, maybe I’m not ready for the workplace yet. I’ll be a senior next year, but I’ll also only be nineteen. I’m going to have a Bachelors degree, and start working full-time at the age of nineteen! Compare this to some students who enter freshman year at the age of nineteen…it’s pretty insane (and weird). I know that I shouldn’t (and probably can’t) blame my age for my un-readiness to graduate, but I feel like I could use some more soul searching and exploring before I start working full-time.
Overall, the first half of my internship has been an extremely positive experience. I get to learn not only about software development, but also about the business world from very smart, kind and experienced developers. I also get to share this journey with 30 other interns, some whom I have become good friends with. The Campus Recruiting team also does a great job of organizing events for us—for instance, we went to see the Red Sox game on Wednesday. It was my first ever baseball game in my eighteen years of existence! I am definitely looking forward to the next five weeks to come.