Interning at Planet Argon: Expectations Vs. Reality
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Hi, I’m Shannon
I've always been very interested in technology, but my interest in coding began when I started watching coding videos on YouTube, learning to solve basic coding problems on sites like Codewars or Exercism.
Although I'm new to the coding world, I'm not necessarily new to the technical field. I managed huge databases as an Information Manager in the Air Force and later worked as Tech Support for Apple. Solving problems was one thing, but solving them in different programming languages was another! So I decided to learn as much as I could about coding. After spending multiple years in a job that felt a bit stagnant, I was motivated to find the next step for me. Coding seemed like a natural progression, so after many hours of research, I found a Bootcamp with Learn Academy that fit my life and goals. What inspired me most was that the possibilities with a coding background were somewhat endless. Even if I wanted to stick with my former company, learning coding could open more doors for me there.
Before the Internship
Before the internship with Planet Argon began, I had a mixture of feelings that wavered between excitement and anxiety. The Learn Academy Bootcamp was amazing in so many ways, but like most bootcamps, it was extremely fast-paced, and I had some feelings of doubt about my abilities to be a successful intern.
I had some expectations in the beginning, which I now realize weren't very realistic- most likely due to the anxiety. For example, I anticipated being given huge coding problems to solve or being asked to explain complex concepts that I still hadn't fully grasped. Instead, I was given tasks that were completely on track with my knowledge level and also given unending support to complete them.
Before starting, I learned what I could about Planet Argon because I researched Robby Russell, the CEO when I learned that he created Oh My Zsh. It was super cool, and I felt like I would be meeting a celebrity in the coding world! Once I dug a little further, specifically into Planet Argon's core values, culture, and commitment to diversity, I was sure it was the company I wanted to gain experience with as an intern.
I had hoped to gain three things from my internship: confidence in my ability as a developer, a better understanding of Ruby Rails programming language, and how to work with a dev team and be a valuable contributing team member. Although my time at Planet Argon has been relatively short, I'm already learning a great deal about all three things.
On the first day, I was anxious and unsure of what to expect. I know many new developers speak about the imposter syndrome often, and I never really understood how significant it could be until I experienced it. However, as the first week progressed, the anxiety lessened, and this was because every team member I interacted with gave me so much reassurance that they were there to assist and help should I have any questions or feel lost. This boosted my confidence and allowed me to release some of that anxiety so I could focus more on learning from the project tickets assigned to me.
The tools I was given access to were Jira/Confluence, Tuple, Docker, Planet Argon's Github, Harvest, and Alfred. With the exception of Github, all of the tools were new to me. I had previously seen and read about Docker but had not used it. I did have extensive experience with Github, as we used it daily in the Learn Bootcamp. However, I had no experience with any other tools used at Planet Argon.
I felt the onboarding process went awesome! Even with the issues when setting up the environments, those snags helped me learn how to walk down errors and solve each one until the issue was resolved. After I had the environment set up, I ran into an issue that required me to uninstall a few things, and I was able to set up the environment again with no problems because of the steps we took during onboarding. The onboarding process was also super helpful in other ways, such as the one-on-one meeting with each team member. This served as an icebreaker, making it easier to reach out if I needed help with any other issues.
Working on My First Project
I initially expected some huge complex coding problem for my first project, and while my first project wasn't as daunting, it required some critical thinking and research to ensure I was on the right track.
For example, there were some snags with figuring out how to remove the unneeded code without affecting the functionality of the remaining code. Working with specific Ruby controllers, params, and testing was also challenging. But I felt more comfortable navigating through the codebase, installing necessary gems, and installing older versions of Ruby.
My best "Aha!" moment is probably more of a realization. When we learned testing (Rspec, Jest) during Bootcamp, it was arguably one of the hardest sections of the curriculum. I wanted to avoid it like the plague! However, while working on my first ticket for the second round, I realized why testing and TDD are crucial to writing efficient, clean code.
What I'll remember most from this particular project is to read through my tickets thoroughly, as well as any connecting tickets that have issues linked to them. I was able to find more information that helped guide me based on comments left by someone who worked on the ticket before me.
Working with the Dev Team
The meet and greet sessions were really awesome and personable. I felt like each team member was unique and interesting in their own ways, and every one of them was welcoming and pleasant to speak with.
Erin, Jaison, Robby, Will, and William all helped with tech/project ticket issues and with setting up environments. Michael helped with navigating Jira/Confluence and tickets. Ben helped with everything related to interning, from onboarding to environment setup to just general random questions.
What I liked most about working with the dev team, and was most impressed with, was how professional yet relaxed the environment was. Meetings were scheduled, tickets issued, projects were worked on, and things were accomplished, yet the atmosphere was always calm and friendly. It felt more like friends/family than just a working relationship/team. I imagined a dev team as I've seen on tv or in movies- stressed, scrambling to meet deadlines, and just generally extremely frazzled! This was not the case at all. Very pleasant environment and team to work with.
The skills I hope to take into my new career are better TDD/testing skills, better Github management skills, especially when working with a team on a huge project, and a better understanding of the Ruby Rails framework. Ideally, I would like to move into a full stack developer position at a company with similar values as Planet Argons.
This internship was extremely valuable to me. I think the combination of the technical skills, in addition to experiencing what working with a real dev team is like, will definitely prepare me for what's to come.
What specifically stuck out to me was that I was encouraged to ask questions if I wasn't sure! It's ok to admit I don't know something, and oftentimes, a team member has the exact answer I need! I would definitely recommend an internship with Planet Argon to other coders.
Thank you, Shannon! It's been a joy to have you with us!
If you're interested in learning more about our internship program, please visit our Internships page.