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My Summer Journey at Metal Toad: An Internship Reflection
My Summer Journey at Metal Toad: An Internship Reflection
As I sit down to reflect on my three-month internship at Metal Toad, I can't help but feel a whirlwind of emotions. I am officially in the last week of my internship, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you the incredible experience I've had as part of Metal Toad's internship program.
Picture This: A fresh high school graduate with no prior work experience, stepping into the world of software engineering. It's a daunting challenge, to say the least. But from day one, the folks at Metal Toad made me feel right at home.
My First Day: A Mix-Up
On my very first day at Metal Toad, I encountered an unexpected twist. Mistakenly placed with the frontend team instead of my intended backend role, I found myself in a world of confusion. It was like being on an alien planet. But instead of panicking, I reached out to my team lead, David Dolan, who quickly sorted out the mix-up. This mix-up, though initially confusing, turned into an unexpected adventure. I had a chance to interact with the frontend team, gaining insights into their technologies. Looking back, it was a lesson in adaptability, showcasing Metal Toad's supportive environment and the importance of clear communication.
The First Week: A World of Unknowns
My first week at Metal Toad was a whirlwind of introductions to new terminology used in stand-ups, technologies I’d never heard of before, and a massive codebase that seemed incomprehensible at the time. This invoked an ever-present feeling of being lost in the vast sea of software development. I found myself experiencing imposter syndrome, but despite that, I quickly recoiled from that mentality and became determined to dive in headfirst.
I started my journey by devouring documentation, watching instructional videos, and formulating questions about every issue I encountered. And let me tell you, there were plenty! But what made all the difference was the incredible support system I had in place.
The Metal Toad Team: My Lifesavers
Throughout my internship, I had the privilege of working with some smart, and amazing individuals who made my journey not just manageable but genuinely enjoyable. Communication was key, especially because of the remote environment. I constantly formulated questions, and asked them to the team on slack. They acted as my constant pillars of support, always ready to lend a helping hand, and provide guidance.
No question was too small, no problem too big. Whether it was pair programming or one-on-one meetings, they made sure I had the tools and knowledge needed to succeed. And it wasn't just about the technical stuff; they were open to sharing their insights into the industry and offered valuable advice for my future endeavors.
The 30-60-90 Plan: A Guiding Light
One of the standout features of Metal Toad's internship program is the 30-60-90 plan they have in place. This plan provided me with a structured roadmap for my internship. It outlined specific goals and tasks to accomplish at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks. As I completed each milestone, I checked them off, and let me tell you, it was incredibly satisfying. It gave me a clear sense of progress and accomplishment as I moved through my internship journey.
The Work Buddy System: A Guiding Hand
Metal Toad's Work Buddy System, a cornerstone of its internship program, pairs interns with experienced colleagues. My work buddy, Rey Pocius, had the added advantage of a prior internship at Metal Toad in 2016. This experience allowed Rey to empathize with my situation, providing targeted mentorship that made my transition seamless.
Rey patiently answered my questions, shared insights, and made the internship not only educational but also enjoyable. The Work Buddy System fosters a sense of fellowship and ensures that every intern feels supported, reflecting Metal Toad's commitment to nurturing talent and fostering teamwork.
Weekly 1:1 Mentoring: A Lifeline
In addition to the plan, Metal Toad's weekly 1:1 mentoring system with my team lead, David Dolan, was a lifeline. These meetings ensured that I had dedicated time weekly for guidance, questions, and feedback. It was a space where I could discuss challenges, seek clarification, and receive valuable insights into the software development world. David's unwavering support and mentorship played a pivotal role in my growth during the internship.
A World of Learning
One of the highlights of my internship was the exposure to an agile software development environment. I not only had the chance to develop my existing Python Programming and AWS skills, but I also learned about new technologies like Git, Github, Terraform, and RESTful APIs, and also had the opportunity to earn an AWS certification. I contributed to the RPGMatch project by initially creating unit tests, then delivering bug fixes, and eventually crafting API endpoints. Each task was a stepping stone towards becoming a better software engineer.
Flexibility: Balancing Act
The fully remote nature of my Metal Toad internship offered remarkable flexibility. This allowed me to easily balance my college tasks and summer commitments. Late-night work was possible as long as I finished it, so it fit seamlessly around my college schedule, which began two months into my internship.
As my internship comes to a close, I'm filled with gratitude for the incredible experience I've had at Metal Toad. But this is just the beginning of my journey. I'm returning to Cal Poly Pomona as a first-year computer science student, armed with newfound knowledge and skills. I've even enrolled in CodePath's Web Development course to expand my skill set further and embark on exciting projects throughout the school year. And yes, I'm already on the lookout for summer 2024 internship opportunities because this experience has ignited a passion in me that I can't wait to explore further.
Tips To Future Interns
- Continuously Learn
- Constantly search for tickets you can take on, so you can learn valuable skills.
- Read up on documentation, and watch videos and apply that knowledge to issues you encounter.
- Ask fellow team members about their career journeys, so you could gain advice, to use for your future endeavors.
- Communicate Effectively
- Always update your team on the progress of your tickets via Jira comments, or Slack.
- Ask for help once you’ve exhausted your brainpower, and you get stuck.
- Identity team member’s specialities, and formulate effective questions to ask.
- Take Notes
- Note down all the problems you face throughout your internship, and the solutions so you can reference them in the future.
- Note down career advice from team members, for your future endeavors.
- Notes can be transformed into documentation that can be valuable when onboarding future interns/employees.
- Embrace Failure
- You will fail a lot, but that’s the key to learning (I took down the development environment a couple of times, and learned a lot about AWS tools to troubleshoot/fix them).
- Failure is a learning experience, utilizing that knowledge to avoid the mistake in the future, remember you’re just an intern, not everything you do will be perfect!
- Have Fun!
- Remember to have fun during your internship, talk to co-workers from all departments about their experiences, and attend monthly/yearly fun meetings!
A Heartfelt Thank You
I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone at Metal Toad. Your collective effort and support made my internship unforgettable.
Thank you, Metal Toad, for an amazing summer filled with growth, learning, and unforgettable experiences.
Here's to the future and all the exciting opportunities it holds!