When I accepted my role at X by 2 as an Intern Consultant, I was both excited and terrified. This would be my first experience working at a software consultancy, or a tech company of any kind. I was eager to start doing real work as opposed to artificial assignments, but I also knew that real work meant real implementation and real consequences. In short, I was afraid I wouldn’t live up to the expectations.
Prior to joining X by 2, I’d completed two years studying computer science at Grand Valley State University and some high school computing classes and camps. I was concerned, naively, that this meant I wouldn’t be able to handle what was placed in front of me. I was beginning to experience a bit of imposter syndrome, but despite the feelings that washed over me in the moments leading up to my first day on the job, I persevered and pushed through.
Now that I’ve arrived at the tail end of my internship, only a few months later, I can safely say that the experience at X by 2 wasn’t half as intimidating as I had built it up to be . I’ve met several supportive coworkers, picked up a wide range of knowledge and made meaningful contributions to my project. I’m glad I had the courage to apply for and accept the position; it’s only made me more confident in myself as a software developer and what I’m able to accomplish.
Looking back on my experience, I thought it would be helpful to share some words of advice to not only my past self but future intern developers as well. I hope these tips will ease some concerns and help other young developers have an idea of what’s ahead of them and make the most of it.
So, if you’re a college student about to start their first internship like I was, perhaps this advice will come in handy.
You won’t know everything, and that’s okay. You’ll learn from the best.
This is not to say you’re not smart or capable, because both of those things are true if you’ve made it to this point. This is to say that the experience you’ve gathered in school, although important, has no way of preparing you for every possible scenario you will encounter. The code bases that you’re going to be working with will likely be much bigger and messier than anything you’ve worked with before.
Companies like X by 2 know this. They will not expect you to know every in and out, crevice or quirk of every programming language. However, they will expect you to be able to learn what is needed. This goes beyond internships as well. Even the most experienced of developers, especially in consulting, are constantly learning.
Ask questions! If you don’t, it will be at your own loss.
At X by 2, my coworkers were always eager to discuss whatever program or technology I was curious about. And because of my tight-knit project team, this only made communication easier. By asking questions, my team knew I had a vested interest in what I was working on and wanted to learn more. More importantly, I left with more knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise.
In addition to asking questions, online research is highly encouraged and often necessary on the job. Believe it or not, it’s a skill. The more you do it, the more resourceful you’ll become.
Make friends with those around you.
With more and more software companies offering hybrid or even fully remote schedules, it’s easy to close yourself off — even more so when you’re new and don’t know anybody.
If you can, try to make a dedicated effort to go into the office to meet the new faces you’ll be working with, or even people from different departments. The earlier you make the effort to strike up conversations with coworkers, the easier it will be to form valuable connections.
Soon after joining X by 2, I bonded with other young developers and interns who became genuine friends. Going out to lunch at local Chinese and Thai restaurants was a ritual for us every Friday, and several inside jokes filled up our whiteboards. That camaraderie helped me truly feel like a part of the team and brightened my days at the office.
In addition to having good company, talking with coworkers is a great way to get a sense of the company culture and what a long-term position at the company may look like. And of course, it’s helpful to have contacts to reach out to for advice or mentorship down the road.
Have confidence in your abilities.
Imposter syndrome is incredibly common. Just know that you were hired for a reason. Passing, and even being chosen for, technical and/or behavioral interviews isn’t easy. The hiring managers and those who interviewed you saw you as a fitting candidate for the job.
Take a moment to be proud of what you’ve achieved thus far. And going forward, instead of downplaying your contributions, take note of your accomplishments! Have faith in yourself. You’ll survive.