During the last few months, our Boca Raton and Eugene offices were refreshed with an influx of young, bright and energetic people. The Interns.
Like everyone else at 3Cinteractive, I’ve seen blog posts from many of them telling their experiences, challenges and insights, but not so many posts from the people they report to. I decided to fix that and write a blog post about our awesome interns, from the other side of the coin.
A few months ago, our CEO John Duffy told me about this year’s Internship Program and he asked me if I was interested in having interns work in my department, Software Development. I immediately accepted the challenge.
Nearing the starting date, I was really looking forward meeting with them for the first time. It was my first time managing interns and I didn’t want to let them down.
I take working relationships very seriously, both within or outside my organization. I believe healthy, honest and open relationships are the cornerstone of a good workplace and interns are no exception.
I was aware this was probably their first time at a real job and as such, it was going to be special. I wanted to set the bar really high both for them and for myself.
The First Days
The interns’ first day finally arrived and I met with these two bright girls, software development interns Carey and Haley. There was excitement in the air as we started to talk and get to know each other a little bit more. I asked them about the collaboration of technologies we use. Some they knew, but many they didn’t. I thought to myself, “Ok, there’s a lot of work ahead, but this is going to be fun!”
At first, I tasked them with documenting one of our ongoing projects, a migration from the old Source Code Repository to the new one. A day latter, a new and shiny page was created by them to track the efforts. The project needed collaboration between our three offices (Boca, Montevideo, Eugene) and a shared page was the perfect method to achieve it. A few days later, the migration efforts started moving at a steady pace and now all the critical projects have been moved to the new repository. Their help really played a role in moving the project forward.
The Internship Experience
During the program, I wanted our interns to have as much exposure as possible, as this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work elbow-to-elbow with very talented and experienced professionals from day one. I involved them in many projects such as helping teams from our department and others with documentation, as well as shadowing and helping a few of our developers on their daily projects. I received positive feedback from both sides about these types of interactions as everyone learned something from the other.
I invited them to all sorts of meetings and demos within our department and other departments as well; ranging from the more exciting ones where cutting edge technologies were discussed and applied, to the more boring ones where we were planning a routine release.
The Rest of the Pack
I also had a very fluid relationship with other department’s interns, in a more informal way at first such as at lunch, crashing their working area (“The Cage”) and random conversations in the hallway. These relationships grew into more formal in meetings later as I helped them moving forward on some of their projects. I was delighted to see that my interns were not the exception as there was also a lot of very promising talent working in other departments.
The Big Projects
The interns split into two teams as part of their Scrum training. Each team was tasked with a project and they used the Scrum methodology to execute it. The first team undertook the daunting task of migrating our internal wiki pages into our new platform in the cloud. This was a huge task involving hundreds and hundreds of pages and documents and there was always the challenge of missing something. They did a great job leveraging some automation tools but also a lot of manual data migration to make sure everything was tidy and well organized.
I got involved mostly with the second team who were tasked with something completely different. They were going to try to find patterns in one of our program’s logs by leveraging Big Data technologies. It was a very exciting project involving new technologies, but it wasn’t easy.
In fact, it was very, very hard. That didn’t seem to discourage them in any way though. You could see them buzzing around discussing strategies, meeting with our COO Mark Smith to better understand how the program works, and making sense of the data it generated. They demanded bigger and more complete data sets to better analyze the information contained within them and asking questions to anyone who could give them even a tiny bit of insight about the program. It was fun to watch.
What was even more fun was to see the results of this process. They actually found patterns on the data they analyzed and unveiled information that could greatly improve the program’s success. They presented their findings in a very crowded demo which included most of our senior staff in attendance who asked them questions as if they were senior analysts with years of experience. I must say, they really looked and acted like they fit the part.
Our Tiny Little Project
On the last days, I worked with my interns on a small yet exciting little project aimed at metering the time it take for an SMS message to move in and out of our platform.
It was very fun as they touched many different technologies that were novel to them and they got to commit real source code in the company’s code repository. They succeeded at making a working prototype and I’m pretty sure we can extend their work to make it part of our platform monitoring system in the future.
It Runs in the Family
During the last four weeks of the internship program, my son Juan also joined the intern team, reporting to the technical solutions department and working on the Big Data project. It was a terrific experience for me to see him working alongside other interns and coworkers on their projects and to see him dealing with a completely new environment.
I couldn’t be more proud as a father and grateful to 3Cinteractive for allowing my son to be part of such an amazing experience. I’m sure the positive impact the internship had on him will help him in his future career and projects.
Now that the 2013 Internship Program is over, I feel a little bit of sadness. I can only hope some of our paths will cross again in the future. But fundamentally, I have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment as I witnessed the positive influence our company, especially our people, made on these young professionals.
Now think about it for a second. The interns, with just a few months of experience, were able to take a stab at two very challenging problems, work as a team, and succeed. Not only that, but they were able to make solid public presentations of their progress and findings and ace the most unnerving Q&A’s.
I feel I’ve been part of something larger than me, something special and purposeful.
About The Author:
Alejandro Guerrieri is the senior software architect at 3Cinteractive, where he directs the organization’s software development efforts at the Boca Raton, Eugene, and Montevideo offices. Guerrieri has over 16 years of experience in software development.