My Apptentive Summer Internship
Today’s post is brought to you by Jace Lieberman, our amazing summer intern! Jace, thanks for all your hard work this summer. We sure will miss you, but you’ll always be part of the Apptentive family. Best of luck in the upcoming school year!
As my sophomore year at the University of Denver was coming to a close in May, I was preparing for finals and frantically searching for a summer job that was relevant to my degree in computer science. Using my TechStars connections from my 2012 internship there, I reached out to the founders of Apptentive and was brought on board the 2nd week of June. During the past 12 weeks, I’ve worked on two projects, one internal-facing, and one open-sourced project. My work in Java and C++ provided a helpful background as I learned Ruby, and I gained a significant appreciation for data structures and algorithms, a class I wasn’t a huge fan of at the time.
Through the ups and downs of day-to-day CS work, I aggregated quite the stockpile of advanced nerf weaponry at my desk for the unexpected but inevitable attack from my coworkers. It turns out when I’m having a bad day and cannot figure out how to make this one damn method work, a nerf war always puts a smile back on my face. Not to mention the four kegs we always had on tap, and the all-hands happy hour on Friday afternoons. The office fostered a productive and inclusive culture by balancing work with stress-relief, and the transparent leadership style really made me feel like I was not only a part of the team, but knew how my role helped to excel the company’s mission.
At times I caught myself distracted by excitement for my upcoming trip this fall, exacerbated by a recurring dissuasion from my inability to generate functional code. In every instance of this disinterest, however, there was an opposite and sometimes greater feeling of success when I overcame these issues and delivered a working feature.
As my time at Apptentive comes to a close, I anticipate my next step with the familiar bittersweet taste of transition. I can’t remember a sunnier Seattle summer than this one, juxtaposed by my job where I sat at a desk for over 50 hours a week. Perhaps my biggest motivating factor every day was the engineering team dynamic at Apptentive. Everyone I worked with had a slightly different background and skill set, which meant whenever I was blocked there was someone who could help me approach my problem from a new angle.
To break down a few of my learning points this summer, my takeaways were:
- I got stuck. A lot. But my biggest successes occurred when I got past these blocking points on my own.
- A win for someone is a win for everyone. Every time someone completed or delivered something (on the engineering or sales team), it brought everyone up, and I felt very welcomed into that process.
- Ask questions. As I got more comfortable with the development environment, I learned how to ask more specific questions, and when to stop googling and ask for help. On a larger scale, I learned to ask why. Why am I doing this? Why does this problem exist and why does my solution solve that problem?
- Despite not having a background in many of the disciplines I worked in this summer (databases, ruby, web apps), I learned how to combine these building blocks into a functional product. Even though I’m no expert on the frameworks I used, I can look back at my work and understand everything I did.
Finally, this internship gave me the opportunity to brainstorm, design, execute, and deliver on two different projects this summer. As Apptentive strives to be a more data-driven organization, I was able to measure my value added through the products I delivered. Not only has this summer validated my interest in the tech industry, but by working with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, I’ve learned techniques and practical application beyond what I’d ever expected from an internship.
I could not have asked for a more supportive group of people and better work environment for the summer. Thank you, team Apptentive!