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Article  |  Development

From Student to Intern: My First Week at Planet Argon

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From Student to Intern: My First Week at Planet Argon

Mentorship and working with the next generation of developers is important to the Planet Argon team. This year, we're making a bigger push to have a more interactive, meaningful internship program. We're kicking off this program with a spring partnership with Epicodus, a Pacific Northwest-based vocational school for aspiring programmers. For five weeks, we have two interns working in-house, James Padilla and Tracie Weitzman. Here's a quick reflection of James' first week at Planet Argon.

Surprises

With week one at a close of my Planet Argon internship, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the events and have come out pleasantly surprised. One of the biggest surprises would be the great support we’re getting. We were assigned two developers, John and Corinne, to guide us through the process of settling into Planet Argon.

We were immediately put to work on an existing real, live production application for a real client -- a refreshing change from making smaller, 10-15 file apps. We’ve also worked directly with the client to discuss changes we’ve made. This definitely is not what I was expecting as a week one intern. It feels great to be entrusted with these responsibilities. At other companies, interns might be stuck making small, internal pet projects – imagine my surprise!

Being Stumped, Learning Lessons

As a developer, It’s easy to get lost in a huge, existing app that you are unfamiliar with. Dozens upon dozens of gems, controllers, models, spec files, database tables, associations – it can be daunting for an inexperienced developer. But I’ve found myself digesting every little bit of it. There are glimpses of enlightenment here and there. “Oh, this is how that works!” is a common thought. It is also invaluable to have an experienced developer available to help shed light on the nuances of the app.

We were working through a ticket recently that asked us to investigate a bug in the app. The ticket noted that when users of the app downloaded a low resolution image, it was much larger than the high resolution image file. This was making the image unsharable on Twitter per their 5MB size maximum policy. We recreated the issue and began our work.

So there’s a problem with the image processing, great. Immediately I begin research on any known bugs that would cause this for the specific software the app uses. Nothing comes up. This was quite confusing, I expected to find at least something in the vast sea of search results that Google provided. After further research and poking around the app’s image processing software, John checked in to see how we were doing with the ticket.

Now here’s where the learning experience came in. It wasn’t an issue with image processing, the link on the front end was simply pointing to the wrong file in the database...d’oh!

From working through difficult challenges on CodeWars to forgetting to check a link -- it was a small blow to my confidence. Making such a small, trivial mistake taught me something that I will not soon forget: just because the app is huge, doesn’t mean the bug has to be. Remember, it can be the simplest thing – check your links, people!

Onward and Upward!

Week one has been great at Planet Argon. We have been working on a wide variety of features, and bug fixes that have varied in difficulty but have all been filled with learning experiences. We’ve been received well by other Argonistas. There’s plenty of coffee. ☕️

So far, so good. Ready for week two!

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