In March this year, I embarked on a journey of starting my internship at Sublime. As a career changer who is passionate about frontend development and the world of programming, I was very excited to get to work on real-life projects and to experience firsthand what the frontend developer role is like. It was a rich learning experience and an intense period of growth. My feelings ranged from overwhelmed at the beginning, to curious and inspired once I found my footing. Time flew by and now I’m ready to embark on new adventures. But, before that, I thought I’d share some insights that I’ve gained that might help some of you. And also, a thing or two that I think companies need to keep in mind, to make it easier for their new interns.
For the intern:
- The internship is a part of your learning journey, and no one expects you to know everything. Dare to ask questions. None of us are born experts, and curiosity is a quality to be appreciated, so raise your hand and ask away.
- Building on the first point comes the second tip which is to write down things that you don’t know. Make a list of topics that you want to understand and get better at and dig into it. There will probably be a lot of terms thrown around that you may not understand and technologies used that you are not familiar with. So, the internet is your best friend.
- Request regular feedback. Ask for feedback and use that input as a growing opportunity. Make sure that the feedback is not solely focused on your soft skills, but also includes the technical skillset that you bring to the table.
- For tech internships specifically any code review that you can get is precious. Also, use the access that you’ll have to the code that senior developers have written and observe how they structure things, which solutions they chose, and how they optimize for performance.
Blurry but happy me in the background, while the cake I brought for a fika on my last day at Sublime stole the show. 😉
For the company:
- I would say that assigning a mentor is the best way to provide support and some guidance. It made such a big difference for me, and my mentor also helped me deepen my knowledge about accessibility which I am passionate about.
- A beginner will have a lot of things they don’t comprehend so your understanding and patience is crucial. When explaining complex topics try to explain as if you were just learning those things yourself. Not because the intern can’t understand, but because we tend to explain topics that are familiar to us with the expectation that others are familiar with them too. This phenomenon even has a name – the curse of knowledge.
“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed us’. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.” – Dan and Chip Heat
So, when explaining try to put yourself into the other person’s shoes.
- And I might be finishing with what seems like an obvious one, but I think it’s always important to include these things: create an inclusive environment where one will feel welcome and safe. We are quite privileged in Sweden when it comes to this, but we need to keep reminding ourselves that these topics are living things that always need to be discussed, prioritized, and improved (cause no matter how good your company culture might be, it’s important to always keep open to improvement).
This article was originally written and published on Sublime’s website. In case you want to read it in Swedish or learn more about the company click here.