This article is a guide for all people who want to pursue a programming internship and the account of my first months at Apptension.
What is the best way to kickstart your programming career? An internship is a promising start but only if you make sure you do it right.
I’m Hania, a 22-year old junior frontend developer and this is a story about my first months at Apptension, the journey from an intern to junior developer, and, finally, a guide for all coding adepts who want to start their career with a programming internship.
Studying computer science is great for your overall understanding of IT.
But here’s the thing:
If you want to master web development, you still need to learn A LOT on your own.
Master coding in a real-life environment
There are plenty of resources and tutorials on the web, but at some point, one has to start the actual job. One way to master coding in a real-life environment is to take part in an internship program.
There is, however, one issue with this otherwise awesome idea – some internship offers just scream generalist, which is not what I was looking for.
Trying different things is fine, especially at the beginning, but ultimately I wanted to narrow my toolkit and focus on improving it. My idea of my future in web development revolved around frontend languages and frameworks.
SPOILER: Eventually, I went with Angular but that’s hundreds of “how?” and “aha” later.
1. Find companies offering internships
Figure out which companies offer internships where you can learn exactly the language/framework you want to master and which ones are more general. Pick the one that works better for you.
I heard about Apptension from a friend who was interning here, so I decided to give it a go. I sent my application explaining what I want to achieve, hoped for the best, had an interview, solved a test task and boom! a week later I was already an intern at Apptension.
Being an intern could be a scary thing. Not only are you learning something completely new, in my case writing in WebGL, but this is often also your first real work experience. That’s why the first day is really important. My went smoothly – I met with the CEO and the Office Manager, got my new employee manual, took part in a office tour (table tennis game was going on, I didn’t expect that) and started working on my project.
What made me feel comfortable through these difficult early days was the fact that I was actually working on expanding what was initially my recruitment task, so I had the basics covered and knew how to move from them.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask
Use the orientation period wisely and don’t be afraid to ask questions even before your first day.
During my internship, I had one heck of a mentor, mr CEO himself – Zbyszek Czarnecki. Daily meetings with one of the most experienced developers in the company can be demanding, but once you get used to the company vibe and enter that “hungry” mode you can’t stop learning.
As it turned out, during my first weeks I learned much, much more than during months of self-education.
3. Learn from your mentor
Your mentor is called this way for a reason. He knows stuff. Ask questions and challenge both yourself and your mentor.
2 months later my programming internship was over and I officialy became a Junior Frontend Developer. This meant I got to join a team working on a project for one of Apptension’s clients.
At this point I appreciated the fact that, even though I was working on my own before, me and my mentor have introduced a scrum-like process, with daily stand-ups and reviews. This made it easy to start working in a team.
4. Understand the processes at the organization
Use your internship to understand the process/work methodology used in the company you work for, even if you’re working on an individual project. This will come in handy once you’re assigned to a team.
Today, a couple of months after I decided to find a solid frontend internship, I know what is my favorite programming language, which tools I prefer to use and whom to ask for help when I get stuck. I’m responsible for my own tasks, I push my own code and I’m looking forward to becoming a person other new employees ask for advice.