Internship experience from a Software Engineer @ New York

1st month working and how I got the job

(Credits to Rui Gomes)

Presenting myself

I’m from Porto, an amazing city located in Portugal. I’m 23 years old and I’ve recently finished my Masters Degree in Informatics and Computing Engineering at Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto.

How I landed my Internship

We all know the competion is tough and most of us would like our first job/internship experience to be in the best possible place. I’ve started to work on this on my 2nd year of college by starting to work as a freelancer with the help of Upwork. I wanted to leave college with some professional experience and ahead of my fellow colleagues in order to be able to land jobs easily and with better conditions. My hard work (and, of course, some fortune) paid off, and I landed some great jobs that allowed me to evolve my skills as a Software Engineer and be in touch with the professional market earlier than my colleagues.

I started to look at internships opportunities while I was doing my Master thesis and I came across an email directed to students finishing their education talking about an internship opportunity in New York through the IAESTE program. I answered that email with my interest regarding the internship and my college connected me right away directly with the company. After a couple of weeks and interviews, I had a technical interview. Two hours later, I was getting my internship confirmation.

2 hours later I was getting my internship confirmation 🎉 🎊

One of my dreams since I started my studies in Software Engineering was to have the possibility to work in the US. And today here I am, writing from a coffee shop, in the beautiful New York City.
Sunset sight from Manhattan, New York

1st month experience

New York is a beautiful city and it never sleeps, really! I arrived one week before my internship starting date so I could handle all the bureaucracies. This first week was very tough especially because everything was new and I was almost on my own. My quest for finding an house was definitely the most complex process, New York’s real estate is very competitive with a lot of demand making it very hard to find a good accommodation with a decent price-quality relation.

The people at my company received me warmly and made me comfortable since day 1. My supervisor, which happens to be the IT director of the company, introduced me personally to everyone in office. The project that I’m assigned to is the development of a new virtual exchange platform to manage the different exchange programs that the company administrates. Since I have had some professional experience in the area, namely in the technologies used in this project (LAMP stack), things went pretty much smooth in the first month and right now I’m currently waiting for feedback from the UI/UX team. I’ve done a presentation about the project and what was developed so far for 100+ people at the 3rd Quarter All-Staff company meeting and the feedback was good.

My office desk at the company.

In the last days of the month I was waiting for input from colleagues and more free of work, so I started to seek what could be improved in the company in terms of software developing processes. I did this by comparing the current methodologies used to the ones I used back in Portugal, more specifically in college at a software development laboratory (teams were the same size as the IT department).

My supervisor told me from the beginning of the Internship: “If you have any idea/proposal that you think it could benefit us, don’t be afraid to discuss with me”. I want to contribute with my ideas to improve the software development process but at the same time I don’t want to sound like I’m being over-confident or arrogant. How did I overcome this issue? I made a showcase talking about the technologies/methodologies we could embrace and how they would benefit the team by shipping software faster and with better practices. Just like discussed in evolution of a software engineer, with a showcase I was able to easily show my supervisor and the team what were the benefits of the change. The IT director and the team embraced the ideas very well and we are currently debating their adoption. This is why I consider that having international Interns is extremely beneficial to a company. We come from different backgrounds, so have different perspectives which can lead to new discussions and possibly improve the current work methodologies by combining the best of both.

Even though I don’t know what’s coming next, I already feel happy that my opinions and proposals are being listened and hopefully I can leave my mark.

It’s time to get ready for one more month which I hope will be interesting enough to share.

Stay tuned, João.