Whenever I start a new experience, whether it’s an internship or a new school year, I’m always a little nervous but mostly excited about all the new skills and relationships I’ll gain through the experience. Before this internship, I was more nervous than usual, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect from a remote internship. Would I get to know the other interns and my team members? Would it be just me working alone on code all summer?
A welcoming environment
Despite all the questions swirling around in my head, I told myself that I would make the best of the situation and just go with the flow. Within my first week of working at InfluxData, I found that I was worrying for no reason. Everyone at InfluxData was extremely welcoming and willing to help in any way possible. Throughout the internship, I have learned more technical and soft skills than I could have imagined.
Problem-solving and self-reliance
Despite not having a lot of experience working remotely, I was able to adapt to my new reality within a few weeks. I learned how to use tools like VS code’s liveshare and the drawing tool on Zoom to effectively communicate and pair with teammates. Even more importantly, I understood the importance of asking for help when you need it. Since I was working at home, no one would know I was stuck or needed help unless I asked for it. Not only did I become more comfortable with reaching out to other people for help, but I also became better at balancing asking for help and figuring things out on my own.
Going into this internship, I wanted to learn to ask questions that I truly wouldn’t be able to answer myself, but I didn’t want to spend too long looking for an answer to a question my mentor could explain to me in a much shorter amount of time. Over the course of the internship, I found myself being able to look at problems and differentiate between the problems I could solve myself in a reasonable amount of time and the ones I would need to ask for help. This newfound skill helped me work more efficiently.
Technical skills gained
As with any internship in the tech industry, I gained a lot of technical skills that I wouldn’t have learned about at school. While I had used GitHub at school for class projects, I had never used it in a bigger team setting and with multiple repositories. Every time my partner and I accidentally edited the same files or forgot to pull the code before editing it, I learned how to solve a new GitHub issue. Throughout the internship, I gained a better understanding of how to manage working on a repository that multiple people were constantly adding to. Other than just git, I learned React and a little bit of go for the graph visualization my partner and I built.
Most importantly, I learned how to add to a dynamic codebase. When I first started working on my project, I wasn’t sure where to start among the hundreds of files and thousands of lines of code. In school projects, I usually start with almost no code or some starter code provided by the professor, so I didn’t have much experience with working in large code bases. Over time, I was able to effectively navigate the codebase and find the files I needed and add to them.
Making the most of the summer
While all these lessons were important, the most invaluable lesson was how to take ownership of my own experience. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, I felt there were many aspects of my life I couldn’t control, but I found that I had full autonomy over my internship experience. I was able to choose the issues I wanted to work on and push code within my first week. I was included in all team meetings and had the opportunity to lead the team and company standup. I was treated the same as any other team member and that motivated me to step-up, take responsibility and contribute accordingly.
In addition to all the lessons and skills I learned, I really enjoyed working at InfluxData because of the company culture. Everyone was extremely friendly and inclusive. Whether it was the execs taking time to explain what they do to all the interns or each of my team members taking the time to talk with me just to get to know me, it was clear that everyone at the company was there to help and wanted to make this experience a memorable one.
I want to take this chance to thank a few people in particular: Lefan, thank you for making the whole interview process run smoothly and always being there to answer any questions I had throughout the internship; Bucky and Deniz, thank you for helping me through the multiple problems I managed to run into throughout the project and making sure I learned from all my mistakes; Desa, thank you for always being there to listen to any problems I had and making sure I got what I wanted out of the internship; and Rose, thank you for being such a patient and encouraging partner. Last but not least, I want to thank the Monitoring team for always making me feel welcome and including me in your team.
I loved working at InfluxData, and I couldn’t have asked for a better internship experience this summer.