I had just recently completed my 8 week internship as a Web Developer. It was an amazing learning experience so I figure why not write about it.
After graduating, I felt that my skills were ‘good enough’ to seek a full-time or contract job. I was applying for jobs for about a month, I got a couple of interviews/coding tests and one company really boosted my morale by saying only 10% pass their coding test (still skeptical but positivity was what I needed at that point). However, there wasn’t much luck so I decided to apply for internships.
I found an intern position at a company called Dashboard on Humber College’s co-op website (would never thought I would be using that website). The interview was quite interesting, I met with the two Directors of Technology and I had expected a technical interview but instead I was bombed with some difficult questions. They told me that they were just testing my skill level, but these questions were harder than the questions I was asked during an interview for a full-time position. I was actually sweating because of the heat that day… totally not because I struggled so hard haha. Anyway, at the end of the interview they had offer me the internship position, even though I thought I bombed that interview. I accepted it instantly because it would be awesome to learn from these guys.
The first project I got put on was a redesign of The Toronto Santa Claus Parade website. They had design comps built out for a few of the pages and they asked me to create the static HTML/CSS pages. This was incredibly overwhelming because it was the first week of my internship and they got me on a pretty big project. The Toronto Santa Claus Parade website gets over a hundred thousand unique visits during the month of the parade. Their development pattern included using Foundation with Compass which I had no experience with, I didn’t even know what Compass was. After doing some research, I found out that Compass is just a Sass extension/framework that helps compile and write Sass stylesheets. In addition, Compass has a large collection of mixins and functions you can use with Sass.
Learning how the Ruby Installer and how gems work was first on the list, I am a PC person so everything was done using the Command Line. Next was learning how to create the project structure, luckily for me Zurb Foundation has got some pretty good docs.
[sudo] gem install compass cd path/to/where-you-want-your-project run compass create <project-name> -r zurb-foundation --using foundation
Creating the pages was easy because I had created HTML/CSS pages from PSDs before. I ran into a couple of styling problems mainly because of the way I coded.
One of the fun things about running into problems is learning how to fix it. However, when I got really stuck (meaning I could not Google my way out), I had to asked one of the directors to help me which turned out to be a pretty awesome experience. The director sat down with me to run through the problem and find a way to fix it. There was some constructive criticism, he had told me that my code was repetitive so I read a couple of articles on DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) code and started to properly use mix-ins and variables in my CSS.
I am not saying to always ask for help and I am not saying to never ask for help, but you could spend half an hour trying to solve something or the person across from you could help you out in 5 minutes.
Another thing I learned is that note taking is extremely important and useful. During my internship I wrote everything that I had learned down which is why I am able to write this post with so much detail. It also helps to go back and read your notes to refresh your memory of things.
Your skills should never be ‘good enough’. Internship is pretty cool, you will learn and experience lots.