Article  |  Internship

Starting Over - A Career-Switcher’s Guide to Being an Intern

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Starting Over - A Career-Switcher’s Guide to Being an Intern

Hi, I’m Gauri!

My journey into software development was complicated and not at all linear - I majored in Environmental Policy as an undergrad and went on to grad school for Public Health. I had a fulfilling career working in Public Health research at major institutions like the Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of California, San Francisco. Then, somewhere along the way, while researching and implementing web applications designed to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations, such as Vets with PTSD, a lightbulb clicked. Having the knowledge I did, how much more could I grow in a career that combined my skills in public health and my interest in software development?

At the height of the pandemic, I, like many others, began feeling burnout from having a healthcare-related career. I knew it was a passion for me, but I also grew anxious and depleted. I knew I needed to step back for a while. I also had so much time to discover new hobbies during this first wave of lockdown. So I started looking up coding tutorials on YouTube, which led to taking free classes on Coursera, and eventually an intro prep course in Python. By the end of it, I knew I had ignited a new spark in my professional journey.

I began my official career change in May 2022 when I began at Turing School of Software and Design. After seven intense months of learning backend software development, creating many applications, and presenting a capstone project to a panel of professional developers, I graduated at the end of the year. When I learned of a job opportunity at Planet Argon, I knew I didn’t have enough years of experience for the required role. Still, I was so intrigued by the company and the fact that the role was specifically for a Ruby on Rails developer (which I learned in my Bootcamp!) that I reached out to the Engineering Manager, Ben Parisot. He was just as intrigued by my story, and although I was not qualified for the particular role I applied to, he offered me a spot in Planet Argon’s upcoming intern cohort. And here I am!

Gauri Joshi

Before the Internship

Before my internship, I was both excited and nervous - I couldn’t believe I was really starting my career as a software developer. A year ago, I had just sent in my application to my bootcamp program, and I was beside myself with how far I had come in such a short amount of time!

Ben set the expectations clearly, so I felt like I understood what to expect going into my first week. I was excited to learn that Planet Argon emphasizes a portfolio-heavy internship experience, being able to work with ongoing issues in client projects and submitting Pull Requests early on.

I didn’t know much about the company before I began other than they helped other companies maintain their Rails applications. That in itself was intriguing for me, especially having just spent the last seven months deep diving into Rails.

I hoped to gain a few things from my internship: a taste of what it’s like to work in a professional software development environment, a deeper understanding of working with legacy codebases and applications that have been in existence for a few years, and an opportunity to flex the skills I learned at Turing.


At first, I was a little overwhelmed with all the information, but I was also relieved that the whole team was welcoming and excited to have me here. I was given access to tools like GitHub, Atlassian, Gmail, Slack, Tuple, and Kanban/JIRA board. I had experience with Github, Gmail, and Slack, but the others were new to me.

The onboarding process was very efficient and quick. I was honestly surprised at how quickly I was able to get working on my first dev tickets- in less than five days! There were some snags in the process in terms of getting the applications up and running on my local machine - lots of debugging was required, and I had to make sure my system was compatible with what the applications were running on. However, the entire team made the process seamless and offered help at every step of the way. They also used it as an opportunity to consider how they can improve their onboarding process in the future, which I really appreciated.

Working on My First Project

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into my first project, but I was excited to be able to start coding right away. I also didn’t have much experience working on legacy codebases, which was quite different from working on a greenfield project. Trying to get my bearings straight and really understanding what the application was doing took a little longer than I thought, but I got it.

My first task involved more algorithmic solutions to reduce application runtime, and when I solved my first problem, I realized I knew what I needed to look for. It was an exciting feeling to solve that first error!

I won’t forget my first “Aha!” moment either: In case anyone runs into issues with n+1 queries slowing their application down, try installing the ‘Bullet’ gem to help you identify those throughout the entire codebase to make it a more efficient process - you can control whether it will give you a pop-up alert or not when a n+1 query is detected and suggestions on remedying it.

Working with the Dev Team

My meet-and-greet sessions with the dev team were informal and casual. It was a great opportunity to get to know the team as “people,” not just their work. It was a great way to feel more comfortable, ask questions, or share fun facts about each other.

Everyone on the dev team was very responsive to messages and willing to hop on a call to pair on a confusing problem. Jaison Coelho was helpful in recommending bug fixes and application setup suggestions. It’s not an easy task to get an outsider fully up and running on a legacy application, and Jaison and the team were able to get me and the other interns set up and running in no time. Additionally, our Engineering Manager, Ben, reached out every day to check in, see if there was anything he could do to support us, and make sure we were on the right track.

What I liked most was being part of a group of solid developers and having a team where I could share resources and learn from others’ experiences. I learned it was ok to ask questions or ask for suggestions.. The team is all ears, and everyone is happy to bounce ideas off each other. It was wonderful to know that mentorship was very important to the team at Planet Argon.

Going Forward

I went into my internship with the expectation that I wouldn’t get to work on big-ticket items as an intern, but that was very much not the case! Even as an intern, I got the opportunity to dive right into the codebase, be part of decision-making at engineering team meetings, and have a voice at the table.

Moving into my new career, I have improved my communication and collaboration skills. I’ve also gotten some experience in context-switching, especially when working on different projects at the same time, and knowing what needs to be prioritized when

Going forward, I would love to combine my previous career experience in public health and work in the health tech or med tech industry. My experience with Planet Argon was very valuable to me. It gave me a sense of operating as a professional developer in ‘the real world,’ being responsible for areas of the codebase, and taking ownership of parts of a project. As a result, I will feel much more confident going into my next full-time role as a developer now.

Would I recommend at Planet Argon internship to other aspiring coders? In a heartbeat!

Thank you, Gauri! We're inspired by your story, and we look forward to seeing you thrive in your future roles!

If you're interested in learning more about our internship program, please visit our Internships page.

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