What I Didn’t Know

Ignorance is bliss until you get an internship. Then ignorance just plain sucks.

I go to a university. A place where you learn all you need to know in one semester, take an exam, then do it again next semester. It is your professors job to teach you all that you need to know. If they didn’t teach you something, they can’t test you on it. It’s as simple as that. You continue on this road of doing things one way and you get to used to it. The cycle of go to class, take notes, ask questions, review the notes, study for exam, take exam.

What you don’t realize is that this way of doing things is dangerous. You become too comfortable. You get used to this idea that everything you need to know will be presented to you, and if by some chance it’s not: you won’t be tested on it.

Then you get an internship. Congrats.

This is where your comfortability screws you over a bit. You see, that company that you snagged a job with has technologies. Technology that has taken years to develop. Millions of lines of code, thousands of different internal tools, hundreds (or thousands) of people that contributed to it. This is not class anymore, my friend. This is the real world.

Life gets complicated: your first week. This is when people attempt to explain many different things to you. “This thingy is for this thingymajig, that works with this thingymabobber to produce this other gizmo, but that only happens when gadgetythingy is connected to that doowad.” Makes sense, right? But also do not forget the acronyms and codenames. “We’re on the OrangePineapple team that works on ACR VCR LOL to maintain the OMG.” Be prepared. Write copious notes. You will thank yourself later.

Things in the tech world are not the same as school. You are not provided with everything you need to know without asking. Nobody is going to come into your office/cubicle everyday and teach you how to do things. I find that a lot of interns get stuck because they don’t know what they don’t know. They feel very lost when attempting to be productive. The hard truth of the matter is that your ignorance is vast, and that will be true for the rest of your internship. It’s uncomfortable not knowing what you don’t know. Not really knowing what questions to ask. There are a million gizmo’s to your doowads that you might work with, and you’re just going to have to deal.

The trick is to get better at figuring out how to figure things out. Realize that you’re not going to understand it all in the short amount of time you’re interning. I’ve learned how to approach various types of bugs, how to get started coding in a manner you’ve never coded before, figuring out why things aren’t working even when it had nothing to do with coding and more to do with installing freaking packages or something. One thing I regret not doing is asking the question “Is there something that I should know that I haven’t learned that pertains to my project/the task I need to do.” I wish I asked that more, may have saved me some time. I definitely learned a lot, I still probably have a ton more to learn but I have time.

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