I want to take the time to reflect on my first internship this past summer. I want to reflect on the highlights of my experience and what I though could have been better. Then I want to discuss what I took away from this experience.
I first learned about this internship opportunity back around September of 2021. I remember many of us were still locked down in our houses wearing masks still and already growing weary of staying home all the time. I was just starting out my cloud development class and I usually like to keep Slack open where I can chat with other students regarding class recommendations and other computer science related stuff. When I was scrolling, I happened to see a post by someone about a career fair. Since I had been “leetcoding” all summer, I immediately poured over all of the details, took some notes, and put it in my calendar. I talked to a few employers and I mainly received interest from Cisco and Arista. After meeting with them both, I decided to pursue my interest at Arista since it is also a networking company but is smaller and and growing really fast.
My internship is probably similar to most others in that it lasted for the summer for about 3 months. It was fully remote but I was still assigned a desk in the San Francisco office in case I felt like I needed to come in. I actually did go in a few times just to meet new people and get to know the culture a bit more. I feel like that is not something you can experience as well when working fully remote and I was definitely right when mingling with other software engineers. My position at Arista was “Software Engineering Intern” and I was given a few options of teams to work with. I feel like my expertise are with front-end systems but at the time I had been doing a lot of back-end work with Python so I asked if I could be placed with a team working on the back-end to make it more challenging. I was immediately paired with a mentor and I immediately went to work.
One of the highlights that I liked about my experience working on the back-end systems was that I was given 3 projects to work on with each one increasing in scope and difficulty. I think this worked really well in that in the first project introduced me to their software workflows using various systems without getting overwhelmed in the projects difficulty. It was already hard enough learning new development tools such as Jenkins for testing and Gerrit for version control let alone learning about the new technologies that I would be working on.
I also really liked that the culture was really diverse and welcoming. Never did I feel like I did not belong and I always had people to bounce ideas around with. I also liked that even though the position was fully remote, they had an intern week event were over 70 interns met up at HQ to hold all kinds of activities such as meeting our managers, touring the hardware labs, and then doing off campus activities like doing an escape room as a team. It was also nice having our employer buys us lunch and dinner every time we showed up at the office.
I would only note that my mentor seemed to have their hands full and so it was difficult in establishing a consistent time and day to talk about any issues. I understand that other engineers are probably really busy too and have a lot on their place so I wrote questions down before hand and would video record most of my meetings so that I could go back and remember what they said. I found that this really helped in my note taking and it helped me develop my own cheat sheets so that I wouldn’t be asking the same questions again and again. I think my mentor noticed that I was learning quickly since she did not have to repeat herself much.
Overall, I really enjoyed my internship experience. It really gave me a good feel as to how other software engineers work together and how complex software can get. I am also excited that they have invited me back for another internship opportunity next year so I am glad that I will have some options. I am especially grateful that I was able to complete at least one internship before graduating because I know that is a big help when looking for employment.