Article  |  Internship

A Midlife Career-Changer's Reset as a Planet Argon Intern

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A Midlife Career-Changer's Reset as a Planet Argon Intern

Hi, I’m Joshua

“Not all who wander are lost.” This quote from J.R.R. Tolkien comes to mind when I look back at my non-linear and non-traditional path to Planet Argon and being a Ruby on Rails Developer Intern.

I’ve done quite a few different types of work throughout my life. I was a professional bicycle mechanic for high-end bike shops and professional race teams in my teens and early twenties. Then, in a roundabout way, I found myself in the US Army as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team Leader. It’s what The Hurt Locker movie was about, but without all the Hollywood added. A good comparison would be the movie being VS Code, and what the actual job was like would be VIM!

After I completed my time in the Army, a small local brewery was looking for some part-time help a couple of days a week. That evolved into becoming a full-time Apprentice Brewer. However, life would be pretty dull if it wasn’t full of unforeseen curve balls! In the following years, I worked as a USAR/Chem Bio Defence PM and trainer, an Operations Manager at a coffee roasting facility, and then a Beertender, Packaging Manager, Taproom Manager, and Brewer at a couple of local microbreweries.

So the question I still need to answer is, what in all these jobs ties everything together to make me who I am today?

Puzzles. I love technical puzzles and problem-solving, and each job and industry I worked in had unique puzzles and problems to solve.

A couple of years into the pandemic, as a single dad with two kids, the major problem I needed to solve was how to continue solving puzzles while being the best dad I could be for my kids. And that is how I started down the path of software development!

image of joshua maurer

Before the Internship

I came to Planet Argon through the bootcamp and internship program at LEARN Academy. Their internship program was a big motivating factor for my initial interest.

One of the tasks we did during the cohort at LEARN was to interview with multiple companies we could potentially be placed with. So I couldn’t have been more excited when I found out I was interviewing with Ben Parisot, the engineering manager at Planet Argon, which I had just heard about on the Ruby for All podcast a few days prior.

I developed a joy and passion for Ruby and Rails throughout the Bootcamp. I wanted to continue digging deeper, learning more, and becoming more involved in the amazing community surrounding it.


The onboarding experience was one of the most seamless and best I had ever experienced. From the short meet and greet 1:1 meetings with everyone, to the incredible and accessible documentation, to the constant communication in Slack that left nothing unknown.

Setting up the new dev environments was not an easy process, but I learned so much. I also started to know the rest of the dev team better, as they worked with me when I was blocked. Robby, the CEO of Planet Argon, also took time out of his day to help when needed. That spoke volumes about teamwork and company culture.

Working on My First Project

The first project I was assigned to work on was the Applegate website. I was tasked with changing the front-end styling on a specific page. Was it a simple task? Absolutely! Was it an excellent first task for an intern to be able to get into the codebase? It sure was! Did it also take me a ton of time because everything was entirely new for me? 100%. It was also one of my absolute best learning experiences so far! I was given the time and ability to learn, but there was also the safety net of being able to ask questions to get unblocked if needed.

When I got to the point of creating my first pull request and having it merged into the main branch, it was such a great feeling. Even though minor in the grand scheme of the application, it was really great to be able to see and apply what I had learned from start to finish.

Working with the Dev Team

Working with the dev team here set a high standard for what I would like to see at a future company. Coming here and seeing how well everyone works together, how great the communication is, and how everyone is willing to help everyone else, no matter their title or role, showed me how thoughtful and deliberate this team was put together.

Going Forward

The internship experience here was more than I could have ever asked for. It also went by faster than I expected. Though in the time that I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much.

One of the best takeaways has been that being empowered by those in leadership positions to take something and run with it is a fantastic way to build self-confidence and personal growth.

My goal moving forward is to stay involved in the Ruby and Rails community as much as possible while I continue searching for that first early career developer position. I am also involved in planning a Ruby conference in Madison, WI, in 2024 which is not only a completely new experience for me but also really solidifies that this community is something I truly wish to continue to be a part of.

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