To love a year: The year of an intern

A year ago, I started long Internship. May 5th was the date; my first day at IBM as a Software Developer Intern in the Performance Quality Assurance Team of the Watson Data Platform organization. Excitement, bewilderment and nervousness. These were not astray from my path: they stayed closely on my way. Prior to the day, I’ve driven more than 3,000 km from Saskatoon to Toronto, had arguments along the way, and rented a place.

Intern Blue Mountain trip

On the morning of the day, the date I dared not to be late, I woke up and ate and drove to the gate of my workplace. I can’t relate the activities of the day because they are too hard to relate to. It suffices to say that getting access to services and tools and setting up was commonplace on my first week. Without much breaking a DA prefixed with an N, I’ll relate a tale of my year at IBM starting in may.


The Internship Program

The IBM Internship program was well organized and the recruiters made the transition from student to Intern very seamless. A modest travel reimbursement was also paid to students moving from out of town. In the first 4 months, we had the option to be assigned to a mentor, an IBMer in a different team whose interests aligned with ours. My mentor was Warren Yen, A Senior Designer in IBM Toronto Design Studio. UX Design is one of the things I am interested in so I opted to be assigned to a Designer. The experience with insightful I learned a lot at our 1hr weekly meetings. Because I was learning new things, we continued to meet after the program officially ended. In addition to the mentor program, I also had a coach in my team who helped with questions I had.

In addition to the Mentorship and Coaching program, there was also an intern run program, Future Blue, which is also very cool. Multiple fun events were organized, career sessions were held and multiple resume and LinkedIn critique sessions were organized. The internship program was well-rounded and it’s something I will recommend to anyone. While each Intern’s experience will differ depending on their team and how well they reached out to people, the actual internship program is designed to be challenging, fun and rewarding.


Work

I worked on multiples project that spanned diverse technologies and required various skills and experiences. Because of the work I was exposed to, I was able to pick up new concepts like continuous integration, containerization with Docker, database technologies, and programming languages like Go, Python and Perl (yes I know, Perl). I also implemented unit tests and end-to-end tests for things I worked on. Because my team followed the agile methodology, I was also able to learn to work fast while being open to change and juggling multiple tasks.

Some highlights of the internship were the Hackathons that were organized by IBM and an internal team Hackathon that my team organized. The most important highlight for me, however, is a new tool that I initiated and led which was then developed and released by me and other interns in my team. This tool is currently being used by other teams and has resulted in almost 20% increase in test success rate.


Team & environment

Hackathon project at Princeton University

I’ll rate my team and teammates 100%. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the things I worked on and my time at IBM are the people I worked with. My Manager, Peter Kokosielis, empowered the team to take on responsibility and was supportive of good ideas that I had. While most of my work was self-directed, I could also run to Matthew Emmerton, a great mentor, for help and he was always happy to help. Other Interns in my team were also super cool. I worked with and had lunch with David Song and Ali Hussain every day. We also played Foosball, tried new restaurants, attended Hackathons in the US, and went to meetups together.


Fun

The IBM Future Blue program is a student led program that enhances the internship experience at IBM. Through Future Blue, activities like Ski trips at Blue Mountains, Movies Nights, Party Nights, Escape Room visits and an Intern Day were organized. These were super fun and made the internship a 100. 10/10, I’ll recommend.