June 21, 2018
Machine Learning. Artificial Intelligence. Cryptocurrency. Blockchain. These buzzwords have exploded in popularity, capturing the imagination of tech-enthusiasts around the world. The aforementioned technologies are dynamically changing the way we live our lives.
A particular area of this technological evolution that impacts our everyday lives is web development. Web development has been around for decades but continues to improve and adapt over time, providing fast and enjoyable internet experiences for users on a plethora of devices.
Web developers enjoy career perks including high-paying salaries & flexible schedules with fun and challenging work. Various perks associated with careers in development have generated a strong interest in this career field. However, figuring out how to go from zero to professional developer can be a difficult and confusing journey. While there are many ways to learn and progress, a web development internship is an ideal work scenario as it provides real-world training and experience (technical and cultural). As an intern, you have the luxury of learning industry standards on a professional team without having the expectations or pressure of a seasoned developer.
The amount of people entering the field of web development continues to skyrocket, so developing yourself into a desirable candidate is crucial. Interns are 13% more likely to find full-time employment  , and 60% of paid internships turn into a job . I have been able to witness this process as 3 out of Text-Em-All’s current 23 employees began as interns.
In addition to internships increasing your chances of being hired, they can also increase your levels of happiness. Interns who were hired reported higher levels of happiness due to being able to try out an industry or company before making a long-term commitment.
With an internship, the company is not the only one making observations. The intern also has an opportunity to observe the company’s culture. Company culture plays a huge role in defining your work experience, and an internship provides enough time for you to see if it is a good fit. Text-Em-All is a successful and professional company, but it is not a strict or uptight work environment. Text-Em-All believes strongly in employees being able to have fun and enjoy being at work. Having a chance to work as an intern will give you a first-hand idea of whether or not that is the type of environment you’d want to work in.
From a technical perspective, getting up to speed with a new company can be challenging early in your career as a developer. The code base will likely be significantly larger than anything you’ve done on your own or in class. There may also be various practices that you have learned that are not used in their company (I was immediately stumped when seeing Redux was setup using a different methodology at Text-Em-All).
This is where the value of an internship truly delivers. I was able to receive 1-on-1 sessions with senior engineers, and I was encouraged to keep asking questions. I was brought here to learn and contribute, and the team cares about me learning the skills that will make me successful in the future.
If you find yourself having to navigate a large code base, take a deep breath and start small. Work on understanding small portions of the code before moving onto bigger sections. Also, look through pull requests from other developers on the team. This will give you a better understanding of how they code and contribute.
Depending on the company, an internship will provide many external benefits as well. Text-Em-All is very active in the community, and I’ve had the privilege of speaking at our ReactJS Dallas meetup as well as helping to facilitate our bi-weekly Frisco Coder Dojo sessions (teaching kids how to code).
If you are preparing to apply for internships (or even full-time positions), below are some key ingredients to include in your job hunt preparation. Every decision that you make each day will directly influence your future, so be sure to do anything you can to improve your skills, increase your network, and enhance the overall presentation of yourself.
If you are sent a coding challenge, try to complete it on your own. It’s easy to get caught cheating, and it can leave a bad first impression on an engineer team. If you are given a written interview, be sure to research the company to learn more about its culture before writing. Be authentic and tell your story!
Lastly, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about Text-Em-All’s internships.
Q. Is it paid? Yes. Text-Em-All’s internships provide competitive pay.
Q. Are benefits included? No. Benefits at Text-Em-All are reserved for full-time employees.
Q. Are interns’ code pushed to production? Yes. My code is regularly reviewed and pushed to production.
Q. How do you get acclimated? Text-Em-All has an initial week-long onboarding process, weekly check-ins, access to all engineers, and more.
Q. Is there free food? Yes. Text-Em-All has a fully-stocked kitchen and weekly catering.
Q. Ping-Pong? Yes. Text-Em-All has a Ping-Pong table along with other games and items including a mini basketball hoop. Text-Em-All also hosts team outings such as going to the movies, bowling, and team sports leagues.
References Brooke Chatterton. What Job Statistics Say About the Value of College Internships National Association of Colleges and Employers
Update March 2021: I am preparing serve as a Transition Assistant/Mentor for an incoming intern at USAA, and I look forward to providing updates after experiencing internships from the other side.
Leave a comment below if you have any thoughts, comments, or questions. Also, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.