Some Thoughts About My Internship Experience
Before I started as an intern, I was very curious. I wanted to find out what it would be like to work in a startup. Would that be exciting? Challenging? It was the first real internship for me.
So I needed to figure out what kind of life I feel most comfortable with before I start my career as a software engineer. As a graduate student, I didn’t have any professional experience. Everything that could help me become a good engineer or developer should be on my list. And luckily, working here as a summer intern is a really good choice.
I still remember the first day when I came to Zugata. I was wearing a stupid helmet and I didn’t know where to put my bike. To be honest, I was very nervous at that time and had no idea how to behave like a professional software engineer intern. Before I got used to the environment, Jessica told me to put my butt on the line and explained the “butt on the line” thing to me. I was pretty sure I didn’t fully understand what she was saying because there was only one voice in my head and it was saying “smile, be cool, just pretend that you understand everything.”
And then, things changed. I got my first project, Slack Integration. Now it is running in production. I have never imagined that I could push my code to production as an intern. When I told my friends who interned at other companies that I have something running for real, their reactions were like “Are you serious?”. Changing my role from a graduate student to a real world software engineer was not easy. There were so many things I needed to learn, to understand. It did take Philippe a lot of time to review my code, tell me where I do wrong and where I can improve. One important thing he taught me was that logging is never enough. When something goes wrong, a log with specific information can help me find out where goes wrong and how to fix it. It feels really great when you know your boss can always guide you, give you suggestions and allow you to make mistakes.
Some of my friends tell me that as an intern, you just need to follow instructions and orders, make sure not break anything, not talking too much. But that’s not the situation in Zugata. Here, I need to express myself. I need to defend myself why I am doing things this way instead of that way. In Zugata, I understand how important oral communication is for engineers. I would never be a good engineer if I don’t have the courage to speak out loud or speak in public. I used to write some sentences before standup so that I knew exactly what I was going to say and tried very hard to make sure that I didn’t say something wrong. It was ridiculous. It really doesn’t matter if you say “django” as the same way as others do. Now I can host every day’s standup, demo day and make the meeting as efficient as possible. hmm, Perhaps I need a whip.
In Zugata, I had the chance to touch different things, which is a luxury for an intern. It is sometimes hard to learn new things efficiently. And it does happen when you cannot figure it out by yourself. I am glad that I can turn to anyone for help. I did ask some silly questions, but nobody ever told me to read the document or figure it out yourself. Besides, no one at Zugata is a conformist. That’s the reason why I love working here. Rules are made to be broken. And I believe we are doing something quite extraordinary here. Ordinary people who do ordinary things don’t belong here. They belong to those big companies where most engineers just conform to established practices and accepted behaviors.
Last, I want to say thank you to everyone. Although I am still not very professional, I’ll keep trying.
The only thing I want to complain about is that basically every snack has a connection with chocolate now. Things may get worse since we have a new office mom now.
"Besides, no one at Zugata is a conformist. That’s the reason why I love working here. Rules are made to be broken. And I believe we are doing something quite extraordinary here."
Ruiqi Wang, Software Engineer Summer 2015 Intern
Graduate Student from Carnegie Mellon University