Just the Beginning: How My Internship is Launching My New Tech Career
Reading time: ~ 5 minutes
Hi, I’m Manny!
Hello, my name is Manuel Espinoza. Some quick things to know about me are that I attended San Diego State University and worked diligently to earn a bachelor’s degree in Economics while I also worked in the food service industry for around six years. I’ve developed and honed my communication and problem-solving skills through my studies and the various jobs I’ve had.
After finishing University, I kept working in food service because I wasn’t particularly interested in a career in economics. I was at a point where I was just cruising by and unsure what my next step would be if I wanted to jump into a more serious career.
One of the program’s perks is that they partner with various programming and development companies where they send their students off to become interns once final projects are finished. Out of the four companies that I interviewed with, I felt Planet Argon would be the best fit for me in terms of what I would be working on, how the company lined up with my strengths, how I could grow here in my month with the company, and how our personalities fit. My interview with our manager, Ben Parisot, felt very comfortable, and I got a sense that Planet Argon emphasizes clear communication and teamwork. Feeling welcomed, Planet Argon became my first choice as a company to intern with.
Before the Internship
When I started my internship, I didn’t have any expectations. I kept a pretty open mind about what I might be doing, but most importantly, I was enthusiastic about doing real work with a company in tech!
I had hoped to gain more real-world experience in working on existing databases and projects and gaining a sense of how to approach different problems. My time in pairing sessions with members of the company were very insightful.
The first week was challenging. I spent a lot of time setting up the local environment on my computer to replicate the codebase on my localhost properly. This was a great real-world experience, where I learned to troubleshoot terminal errors, know which dependencies or packages needed to be updated to specific versions, and how to ask for help in a formatted structure so that communications were as clear and concise as possible. I didn’t have experience doing this during the bootcamp because we just cloned the repositories from GitHub and worked within our text editor (VS Code).
In general, I spent the entirety of the first week in different 1-on-1 meetings with Planet Argon team members, reading up on documentation to familiarize myself with the company’s policies and setting up my local environment for coding. I really appreciated the meetings that I had with the members. I enjoyed seeing that everybody here is comfortable with each other and that team culture is prioritized by management.
There were many tools and software programs that I was given access to, but the most notable of them was JIRA. This software is similar to something I’d used before (Trello). Essentially it’s a task management tool with helpful features. For example, after I completed my portion of a ticket, I would send them up for review, change its status to read “Pull Request,” and reassign it to the team member responsible for reviews. Sometimes I’d get a ticket sent back to me with the status “Changes Requested.” Or if it was good to go, we would send it to another team member to set it up in “Staging” so they could test the code to ensure everything worked as intended.
Working on My First Project
Working on my first real-world project in an existing codebase and making changes based on the tickets I’d been assigned, I expected a lot of it to look challenging and complicated to me at first and to have my knowledge and skills tested. But the codebase was far more extensive than anything I’d previously worked with in my bootcamp. I think the most difficult parts were just figuring out exactly where in the codebase I needed to be working in. First, I had to check for specific keywords or phrases among the hundreds of existing files. Even then, I had to narrow down my results and check against multiple files to see if the changes I made registered in my localhost version of the project.
Some things were more challenging than others, like making adjustments to existing methods in the code. With so many variables and methods already coded out, it was intimidating trying to change something, but I was able to get help either during my pair programming sessions or by asking for help in the relevant Slack channels.
From my experience with the project I worked on, I’d like to mention how important it is to have a firm understanding of the codebase. I learned that once I have isolated the general area that I need to work on for a ticket, I should take a few minutes to review what is already written down so that used variables and other information are familiar and I’m not completely working in a new project with no idea of where to start!
Working with the Dev Team
I enjoyed working with the dev team because they were very welcoming and understanding of my knowledge as a junior developer in my first internship. I got some great insights on how to approach problems and methods that more experienced developers might take. They were also able to share general insights about working in the tech industry and tips that I’d be able to use for landing a first job!
As I move forward and look into getting my first job in tech, I’d like to become more fluent with Ruby on Rails and learn other technologies that are popular in the industry today. I’m working on updating my portfolio using Next.js, TailwindCSS, and Framer Motion to create a more modern and dynamic website for myself, and I’m always looking to learn more and expand my knowledge.
Ideally, I’d like to do work with either video game or social media companies. I think it would be amazing to work with a company like Unreal Engine, Unity, Discord, Twitch, YouTube someday and be able to make impactful changes in the future.
I got a lot of value out of this internship, and I feel that during my time I was able to hone the skills I’d taken away from the BootCamp.
Thank you, Manny! We know you'll make an impact in your future roles!
If you're interested in learning more about our internship program, please visit our Internships page.