Intern Success Story — Developer Muyiwa

Where are you from?
I’m Nigerian but I’ve lived in the UK most of my life with the majority of my time spent in London.

I studied Computer Science with a year in industry and graduated this summer (2017).

Why did you study Computer Science?
I’ve always loved computers and technology since I was young. At the age of 9 I discovered the fact that I could make the computer do what I wanted through the power of programming and I’ve been addicted ever since. Studying Computer Science, therefore, was a natural path for me to follow.

How did you end up at carwow?
Through Mat Watson’s videos. I was thinking of getting a car around the time of starting the internship and carwow’s videos were the most relevant with regards to information, length and transparency.

After checking out the website, I could tell that it was built by a startup company and having had previous positive experience with other startups, I looked at the jobs listing to see if they were offering any internships, as I was looking for something to do for the summer.

There weren’t any positions, but I decided to email the team and see if they needed any help and luckily they did.

Tell us more about your internship at carwow
Interestingly, the internship was originally with the data team. The development team weren’t taking on developers with less than a certain amount of experience at the time. The data team however needed someone who could code and I had a pretty good understanding of basic data concepts and an interest in statistical analysis.

I started off doing a lot of software development for the data team; helping them clean up their code base, building visualisations, introducing software development practices and continuously learning lots of cool data tricks.

Around halfway through the internship the development team were impressed with the work I was doing and asked if I would be interested in learning Ruby, I spent the rest of my internship working with them.

Having never programmed in Ruby before, but being a bit of a programming language polyglot, I decided to learn the basic syntax of the language over the weekend. Luckily, in Computer Science, once you’ve learnt one or two programming languages, the rest become relatively simple to learn as the majority of languages share a lot of common high-level concepts. The major difference is the syntax (how the code is written), which is fairly straight forward to pick-up.

I enjoyed learning Ruby and working with the development team and, luckily, was offered a full-time position once I graduated which I accepted.

What do you think makes a good developer?
A genuine passion for making software, the ability to grasp complex concepts and break things down, stakeholder management, working well with others and trying to be a good human being.

What attracted you to development?
When I was 9 years old I always wondered how you could put some text into a box and send it to someone of the other side of the world instantly. I wondered how you could press down a mechanical button and it translated into a letter on a screen.

Searching the internet taught me that I could make the computer do what what I wanted it to do, as long as I learnt its language — so I did!

I’ve always had an incredibly inquisitive mind and this constant questioning of the things around me brought me to the world of programming.

Do you have any advice to someone wanting to become a developer?
Make sure you love it, and I mean really love it. Writing code is a difficult thing to do, especially as a career, and if you don’t enjoy it you’ll burn out quite quickly.

Also, build something. Anything. Put it out there, improve it, break it, fix it. Releasing software is an important skill and putting things you’ve built out there tells a potential employer a lot (of good things) about you.

What are your interests outside of software development?

  • Sports, and keeping active (football and basketball);
  • Travelling;
  • The environment;
  • (Fairly more recently), politics and economics

Best part of working at carwow
The people — we have a real community of respect here. There is an excellent mix of trust, independence and readily available help. All of these allow you the independence to take ownership of parts of the system, build things, break things and get help from extremely clever people if you’re stuck.

carwow summarizes the overall vibe of working at a startup in a technical position: flexibility, autonomy and trust.

My advice to people in university:
University is as much about learning what you don’t want to do as it is about learning what you do want to do.

Be very honest about your experience — prioritize your happiness and what you enjoy more than anything else. It is really important that you make the most out of university, to learn more about who you are and what makes you tick as a person because that information will be invaluable to capitalize your strengths and realize your weaknesses.

What did you learn during your internship?
I learnt that I thrive in an environment which offers me a great deal of autonomy and a constant stream of challenges. I enjoy being given trust to build things, break things, and fix things.

It’s also cemented my earlier ideas about the large disparity between the world of software development in academia and commercially.

Commercially, there is a larger emphasis on working with others (who may not always be technical), prioritising stakeholder requirements and a wider range of understanding of building digital products. Academically, you’re focused a lot on a high-level understanding of conceptual theory.

What were obstacles you came across during your internship?
Learning two new programming languages (Ruby and Elixir), and new framework (Ruby on Rails) to be able to do the job.

What is your key to success?
Always ask questions and keep your initial thirst for knowledge, even after settling in and feeling comfortable.

What is your strongest personal quality?
Being positive.

Would you recommend start-ups to people looking for their first jobs?
It depends on the type of learner you are. If you prefer structured learning without a high level of autonomy, then a startup may not be for you.

If you’re someone who is fairly independent, has maybe built and released software before (maybe through open-source, or just your personal projects), and enjoys independence professionally (even for your first job), then you’ll be good fit for a startup.

It’s important to prioritise what you want from your first job. Personally, I wanted somewhere where I could grow quickly by being given responsibility to build stuff and working with incredibly smart people, and a startup is more likely to give me that than a more traditional graduate scheme.

To put it another way, if you’re the kind of person expecting to deploy to production within the first few days of your first job; a startup environment will more likely be for you.

Finally, what’s your favourite car?
My heart says Jaguar F type, my head says Tesla Model S (P100 D)

I share small thoughts on Twitter (@muyiwaolu), slightly longer thoughts on Medium (@muyiwa), and images over at Instagram (@awiyum).

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