How to Be a Better Intern: 3 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

By August 13, 2014clypd Blog

Internships are not easy. Within a span of a few months, you have to become familiar with your team, learn and follow the team’s best practices, understand the goals of the company, and contribute some meaningful work.

I had already worked one summer at clypd, so I thought things would be much easier the second time around. Instead, I arrive on my first day and was told I was being switched to the platform team (at clypd, engineering is split into different teams), which meant new things to learn – a new set of people to work with, a new programming language, a new codebase, and a new set of best practices.

This summer has been a lot of fun, but I struggled to get accustomed to the different working styles and practices of the new team. I could’ve avoided many mistakes and stressful situations if I had only realized a few things — things that make you not only a better intern, but a better employee.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It’s not in my nature to want to ask for help or ask a lot of questions when I’m learning something new. I like to just push through problems on my own, which got me into a little bit of trouble this summer.

The platform team encourages a lot of questions and discussion – especially when ramping up on Go (the platform codebase language). Since the whole team is relatively new at Go, questions helped not just me, but the rest of the team become more familiar with some of the intricacies of the language.

I realized halfway through my internship that I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want to be a burden, but the mistakes that resulted just ended up being more of a burden on the team. I could have avoided a lot of the small, time-consuming mistakes that came up at the beginning to the summer.

Be ready to fail

Never be afraid of your mistakes. Even if it happens to break everything and you get a lot of scary emails from your coworkers wondering who did it. I sat in my apartment one morning scared to show up to work. Meanwhile, it had taken the team five minutes to fix the problem. Instead of being scared out of my mind, I should have taken the mistake as a learning opportunity to make me a better programmer.

Make friends

Ultimately, the reason I chose to come back for another summer internship was the team at clypd. Everyone I met my first summer was amazing to work and interact with and I’m thankful that it is the same this summer. From company events, to weekly bar visits, and casually hanging out on weekends, I’ve met a lot of great people at clypd that make waking up in the morning slightly more worth it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing after I graduate, but regardless of where I work, the lessons I’ll be taking away from this summer will make my first post-undergrad job that much easier to navigate.

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