The Struggles of an Intern in Tech

Warning: there will be rants, generalizations and overall exaggerations in everything I write.

I am writing this one month into my first (and hopefully only) internship in my undergrad career.

This is my first career defining move; I chose to do corporate machine instead of small startup. Being a part of a big corporate entity… Are we all just numbers? How does that work when we are developers? Don’t you need me? Not so much and here is why. Billions and billions (exaggeration no. 1) of developers before you have made the working prototypes and even released products that you work on. You are simply one of many worker bees that is maintaining said product, service, whatever, etc.

Well thats all good and proper, I fix some problem here, commit, push, repeat. Defects, Shmefects. Here’s the change up, most of these small development issues (bugs) are found by other people who don’t code so generally it’s a matter of locating and changing one or two lines of code that caused the problem. The hardest part is finding the right lines to change within a file structure you know nothing about. Today I was looking through a directory of over 27,000 files for that sweet spot. No exaggerations, that number is actual and factual.

This is how my time is spent.

You can see how most time is spent looking for that sweet spot. Here’s where I got decked in the face with the curveball. Did anybody realize how many activities run throughout the workday? Meetings (scrum exists IRL!!), events, socials, ‘meetups’ (yes, it is different than a meeting), show and tells, blah blah and so forth. I’ve got a sweet monitor setup that is all your #workspacegoals but I end up trucking around all day with my laptop and no peripherals. I’m excavating these bugs during meetings and committing files during others. Meetings that no one actually needs me to be in anyway (for the most part). How’s life as a fly on the wall? — could be my next article .

So, I’m inconsequential to the corporate machine then how come I’m stressing? I’m stressed about contributing, re-asking the same questions, not knowing the latest most innovative frameworks, not networking enough and, most of all, the possibility of finding out that this is the wrong career for me. Life really is hard, but the perks of working at a corporate machine are pretty rock ’n’ roll too.

Within a large-scale tech company, women don’t seem as under represented as I anticipated. Going off of my academic program statistics (studying Computer Science at McMaster University), I had expected the same gender ratio or close to it. Women in tech roles are scarce but women in tech companies, not so much. Bloody. Refreshing.

I am so fortunate to work for a company that is so driven to be innovative and adapt that they have employees who’s job description surround the culture of employees. Speaking as an intern, there are endless opportunities to make the best of your time. My motto: sign up for everything, put it in the calendar and eventually, on the resume. Be involved with other interns and full time employees, socially and professionally, as much as you can.

“You won’t regret it if you do but you always regret it if you don’t”
— Someone fit

I know this quote was meant for the gym inspiration but doesn’t it fit better here? I personally think so.

On that note, I’ve been ever so keen and of course did join the mentorship program and the intern newsletter team. I asked for a mentor that had design skills and was matched with a UX/Visual Designer. I used to study design and I left it for code. Sorry design, it wasn’t you, it was me. However, I have fond memories of kerning and Helvetica. I’m probably going to write about this mentorship, particularly being a developer and learning design.

If anyone’s read the wired article on programmers as the next blue collar job” — What did you think about that?

If you want to read it, its here.