What it’s like to intern at Unity
In 2021, Unity hired 19 students in the UK & Ireland across a range of positions including Technical Writers, Product Managers, and Software Engineers, to partake in an 11-month Internship Program. 3 of these interns joined Unity’s Scotland-based teams and one of these interns happens to be me!
Hi! I’m Gerda, and I joined Unity as a Full Stack Intern at the end of July 2021. I am part of the Banasco team, and we work on maintaining Cloud Save and Cloud Code products. To quickly summarise, Cloud Save allows you to store game data in the cloud, and Cloud Code lets you run your game logic in the cloud as a serverless function.
Before joining Unity as an intern I was 2 years into a Computing Science degree at the University of Dundee. As a placement year is not part of my course, I decided to take a year-long academic break to join Unity. Although this meant delaying my graduation, I did not hesitate as it seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass.
Joining Unity was quite a shock at first. A huge surprise was how welcoming and supportive everyone at Unity is. I had the preconception that the working world would be tense and very serious, but at Unity it’s the complete opposite; the atmosphere is lively and a lot of fun and the people here are light-hearted and empathetic. My team, Team Banasco, has a great team spirit and identity. We even have Banasco T-shirts! Having a supportive environment definitely boosts everyone’s productivity.
For me, the best way to learn at Unity is to dive into the unknown. I started working with the deep ends of Cloud Code which was initially very challenging as I had to pick up a new programming language, Go, and wrap my head around what we were developing. Fortunately, my team provided tremendous support for my learning, as I developed my knowledge of Cloud Computing. Over the months, I spent countless hours pair programming with other engineers who helped me pick up new concepts and skills. Everyone has a different approach to problem-solving, which helped me see problems from different angles. There were times when the tasks seemed overwhelming, but I knew I could always count on someone to help. This boosted my confidence and taught me firsthand that software engineering is lifelong learning.
Learning at Unity is continuous, and very different to learning at university. While the focus of my degree is on fundamental knowledge and building a foundation for self-learning, my internship has been very hands-on, which I prefer. Instead of having to memorise theoretical knowledge for my studies, at Unity I’ve been writing real code, strengthening my skillset and making a difference. It also helps that my team has a lot of experience, and can predict where I need more support.
A large part of learning is memorising new definitions — it took me a while to truly understand what ‘microservices’, ‘function-as-a-service’, and ‘serverless architecture’ meant, and there are still many more to learn. The more concepts you understand, the better equipped you to participate and contribute to discussions. My internship gave me my first exposure to the backend, and it’s the most fun I’ve had so far (despite writing endless tests!) I picked up GoLang and learned about the workings of cloud-hosted databases. Although fairly challenging at first, I enjoyed learning Go — it’s a modern and comfortable language, and it’s one of my favourites now.
Software engineering involves unit, integration and end-to-end testing, which I realised was a vital part of the software development cycle. Another great benefit is that Unity encourages self-learning through taking part in any activity that aids your development of either soft or technical skills. Recently, I have been doing a course on Kubernetes and container-based architecture, which has been one of the most challenging concepts to wrap my head around.
Another great benefit is that there are more things you can get involved with — not everything is just software engineering. There are many interesting outreach activities and events that take place all around Scotland. Last month, I helped plan the sponsorship for the Quackathon — an annual hackathon, hosted by the University of Dundee Computing Society. I myself participated in the Quackathon as a first-year student in 2019, which happened to be where I first heard about Chilliconnect (a current acquisition of Unity). I think hackathons are a great way to connect with students and help them learn more about what we do, so returning to the university and sharing my internship experience was rewarding.
All in all, I am glad to have paused my studies to join Unity, as I have learned a tremendous amount of new things over these past few months. What stands out to me about my internship is that I truly get to be a part of a team, instead of working on a side project. My contributions reach real users, and I’ve already seen my impact on the products in the real world. Knowing that you’ve made a contribution to this massive ecosystem feels wonderful. I can confidently say I feel I am on the right track to becoming a true engineer!
Next year, I will be going back to the University of Dundee to continue the third year of my Computing Science degree. I hope that the knowledge acquired through my internship will boost my learning, and support my goal of continuing working with Unity, post-graduation.
The best way to learn is to have hands-on experience! Unity is looking for university students, with a desire to learn and grow and a curiosity about the real-time 3D industry, to join our software engineering teams based in Scotland as part of our internship program. We’re currently looking for interns to join us for the next year in Edinburgh.