I was a coordinator of RetailMeNot’s college engineering internship during the summer of 2016. We put a lot of effort into making our interns’ summers fun and worthwhile.
Our program lasts 10 weeks. The first two weeks are a boot camp devoted to learning the ropes of RMN engineering. It begins with full-time engineers from different specialties giving one and two-day seminars on their area of expertise to interns. Everyone learns together in a big conference room, which is a great way to help interns get to know one another (this year there were 13 interns in the program).
At the end of the boot camp, interns join a software development group. We have many different groups to choose from, including but not limited to an API group working in Scala; iOS and Android groups; and a wide array of full-stack groups using different languages (Java and Node.js are common). During the second week of boot camp, every group pitches their summer project to the interns, and then interns rate the groups they want to join. Coordinators do everything they can to accommodate interns’ requests, and this year, everyone was paired with their first choice.
The following eight weeks are an intense period of coding and learning, as interns are embedded in their group, working on a project. Within the group, they are assigned a mentor-engineer whom they sit next to and have total access to. The engineer provides technical direction, code reviews and career development advice for the remainder of the internship.
Peppered throughout the summer are organized social events, like going on a food truck tour and kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. Events are open to full-time engineers and are designed encourage interns to engage with our full-time employees as well as expose them to the city of Austin.
There are also two speaker series throughout the summer. In the CEO Speaker Series, our CEO, Cotter Cunningham, invites the movers and shakers of the Austin tech scene to give talks on their experiences. This year, speakers included Paul Pellman of Adometry and Tom Ball of Next Coast Ventures, among others. In our Engineering Speaker Series, senior members of our engineering department give talks on careers in tech. Topics this year included “The Many Career Paths of an Engineer” and “How to Present to Executives.”
At the end of the summer, interns will have developed a completed project. The focus of the program is for interns’ projects to have direct business impact and get shipped to production. On the last day, interns present their work to a room full of executives, and in celebration, Cotter takes everyone to dinner.