Well that was fun! It was a great summer, really. My sole goal for the summer was to grow as much as possible, not only as a developer but as an individual (and hopefully get a full-time offer too at some point along the way), and I’m very happy to say that I achieved my goals.
Honestly, having never had an internship experience before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I was excited to find out what working in the software industry is like, and I was excited to be able to apply the knowledge I’ve learned at university in real life, but I had no idea what the day-to-day work experience would be like. Ten weeks later, I have to admit I’m pretty sad that my internship is over. I think I ended up liking Vistaprint a lot more than I want to admit. It’s gonna be weird waking up on Monday and not having to leave at 8.15 for work. What am I gonna do now? I guess I’m just gonna sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up, and repeat. Just kidding. But anyways, I really did learn a lot this summer.
Thought #1: Cliché, but, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Seriously. You never know if you never ask, right? People (especially those in the software industry) absolutely love to show off what they know. This is one of the downsides to the whole software industry, to be honest, because once in a while you’ll meet a douchebag engineer who goes “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW [insert technology] WORKS?” when you ask them a question. Is that supposed to make me feel better or something? Most of the time though, people are pretty happy to help you when you have questions, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, Indira. Internships are meant to be learning experiences. People understand if you don’t know stuff, and if you don’t know stuff, it’s not because you’re dumb. It’s because you’re new. And it’s okay.
Thought #2: We need more women in tech!
When I stand up and look around, I notice about three other engineers among at least thirty employees on my floor. Needless to say, it’s pretty depressing and disappointing. I’d say at Brown, about 30% of the CS concentrators are women. However, on average, only 20% of software engineers in the US are women. Where do all the other women end up then, seriously? Okay, I realize the situation is more complicated than this, but still, disappointing. It’s nice to not be the only female on my team, because for one, as a female, I can relate to other females in ways that I can’t relate to males. Secondly, well…some members of the male population can act like annoying little boys sometimes.
Thought #3: I need to learn to network better
If there’s one thing I wish I had done more of, it would be getting to know my coworkers. I admire people who can somehow manage to get along with everyone, no matter the age, gender, interest, whatever. Like, what am I supposed to say to my coworkers who are twice (or thrice?!) my age? Seriously though, how do people do it?!
I know the people on my team, but it would be pretty cool to also know people outside my team. Everyone has different experiences to tell, different skills to share, and different advices to give. Speaking of advice, we had an Intern Farewell Reception on Wednesday, and it was really fun. I really enjoyed it. As you can tell, I’m not naturally gifted at speaking, but I ended up talking to a lot of people who I’ve never really talked to before, and I got a lot of advice from a lot of people. It was nice, considering I’m still a very conflicted, young, soon-to-be-university-graduate. It was also interesting to have a bunch people trying to recruit you haha! On Friday, during my last stand up, I thanked everyone for a great summer, and my manager Joel replied, “Well, if you really wanna thank us, you should come back and work for us!” I feel very loved and wanted now, thank you Joel.
Thought #5: The people matter. A lot.
I’m gonna be completely honest here and say that, at the beginning of my internship, although I was enjoying my experience, I wasn’t sure whether I’d want to work for Vistaprint in the long run. Not because I don’t like Vistaprint. It’s just that I’m not sure if I’ve found any sort of emotional connection with Vistaprint, and what Vistaprint does. I want to do work that will affect people in a way that matters to me, and sure, Vistaprint helps and empowers micro businesses. Do I care about micro businesses though? Not really.
In the second half of my internship though, I kind of changed my mind about it. I ended up really enjoying working at Vistaprint, maybe more than I’d like to admit. Why? I really like the people who I got to work with. Working full-time means that I have to spend forty hours a week with my coworkers, and if I’m not friends with them, then that would just suck. It also seems like everyone talks so highly about Robert Keane, our CEO, that I wouldn’t mind working for him. In fact, I want to work for him. He believes in Vistaprint so much, and is so passionate about Vistaprint, and that makes me want to work for him. I think in the end, this is enough to convince me that yes, Vistaprint would be a nice company to work at after I graduate.
Thought #6: Am I sometimes…too polite?
I have this thing where, if I had to choose between having someone else ‘suffer’ for me or ‘suffering’ for someone else, I’d gladly choose the latter. Here’s an example: I always feel bad whenever someone is coming over to my desk to help me with something, and I get to sit down while he or she does not. Or, there was this one time where I was at a meeting without enough chairs, and I’d offer to give up my seat for someone else, cause I feel bad. Even if I’m one of the first ones to enter the meeting room, if I know that there are going to be more people than there are chairs, I’d purposely not take any of the chairs and let everyone else sit down first. Or, there was this one time where, basically, there were four of us playing this card game, and I felt bad that I got to play because there were other people watching us play, and I just had to ask the others, “Do you wanna play?” “Well, do you not want to play?” “Well, I wouldn’t mind if you wanna play instead?” “But do you want to play though?” “I mean, I don’t mind.” My friend just had to interrupt and say, “Stop being so polite!” Is this really being polite? Isn’t this just being nice and considerate of others? Or am I overthinking stuff? Maybe I am.
Thought #7: When people find out I’m 18, does it impress them, surprise them, or does it just make them feel bad for me?
I’m graduating two years faster than most people, and it’s like a double edged sword. I actually have to think about whether or not I tell people this, and if I do, when would be the best time to say it? You’d think that the only possible outcome of telling other people this is having them think I’m a genius, but there are other outcomes too. Why? Cause youth is associated with naïvety, immaturity, and inexperience.
A couple days ago, I messaged my dad, “I think people are starting to find out I’m eighteen.” He replied back, “Haha. Does that impress them, or does that just make them feel bad for you?” In few cases, informing people of my age leads to them feeling bad for me, and it leads to them feeling like they need to give me more attention and help compared to other people. Sure, you can view this as a positive thing, but if I succeed at something, I don’t want it to be because I put in at least the same effort as other people do.
I think I’ve figured out a strategy though. Telling people after I’ve done a good job at something usually leads to the ‘impressed’ outcome because they’re like, “You did such a good job and OMG ALL WHILE YOU’RE STILL EIGHTEEN?”
All in all, it’s been a fantastic summer. I made so many dumb decisions and asked sooooooo many dumb questions that I’m surprised my buddy didn’t get fed up with me lol (thanks Marc). But, after a couple weeks of getting used to the system, I definitely ramped up my productiveness and managed to do a pretty decent job if I must say myself. I am very proud with how my summer panned out, and once again, would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone at Vistaprint for such an incredible summer. It has been a great opportunity to work with all of you, and learn from all the feedback and advice you have given me throughout the summer. Till we meet again, Vistaprint.