Tips for your first interviews

To clarify, I have just completed the first month of my internship so I may be less experienced coming from a university background rather than coming from a boot camp.

Did I know enough?

I knew exactly what I wanted to do from the beginning of university, so therefore I knew exactly what sort of role I wanted to be in for my internship. The main issue is that I didn't know what tech stack was going to be used or what tech stack is the "best" to learn in general.

My University curriculum did not cover many web technologies, in fact only the basics of the basics. However, I focused my own time into learning the fundamentals of Javascript and doing my own projects. This is by far the best decision I have made so far. Focus on what you love, learn the fundamentals. I cannot imagine entering this internship without the foundations I had.

I am an Imposter

I thought there was a month of training, turns out that was for graduates and not interns. This meant that I was going into my team dry, I knew what I knew, and that was not a lot...

I did not belong, I had so many questions, but my team had just lost members and was down to two developers. This meant that every time I asked a question or needed help I was slowing down the team by at least 50%, and that was not such a good feeling.

What did I know? What did I need to know?

I knew HTML, CSS(and SASS), Javascript and the basics of Webpack, React. However, it felt like I needed to be a master of React and know all these other tools like Jest, Jira, Mulesoft etc... I started off doing tutorials and basically tried to learn fundamentals of React as soon as possible.

I didn't want to be a burden, someone dragging down the team. I know I am an intern but I wanted to be helping already, and this was WEEK 1.

Anyways, I followed tutorials and continued to ask questions, attend meetings, understand acronyms, and learn the business all at the same time. This was a lot to take in, but I was enthusiastic and eager to learn, and my mentor has been really supportive and helpful!

Where am I now?

Still learning, obviously, however, I feel WAY more comfortable and this is mainly because of my team being so supportive, my mentor and my scrum master have been crucial to my progress. My mentor helps with learning the codebase and working on the project and my scrum master has been helping with everything else and settling in.

I am tired

WOW, I get to code ALL day, sitting down! How relaxing right!? No.

At least during my first month, I've been learning so much, and giving 110% I have (by my own choice) been working 8:45 - 6 ish every day. My brain is always active, learning the how's and whys of everything. It's overwhelming but it's worth it.

Putting in all I've got during my first month, to me, was critical. To feel part of the team, part of the company. I asked and learned so much since everyone will be more accepting and willing to teach me during the beginning.

It's not all rainbows and butterflies but I am having so much fun, and know this is going to be a good start to my career. Not only learning to develop with code, but to develop as a person into a professional working man, everything I do, see, and hear on my internship is an experience I am experiencing for the first time.

Do I recommend an Internship?

Uhmm... Heck yeah! It's amazing, I have learned more in the specific field I love in 1 month than I have from 2 years of university. The experience is more relevant than academic achievements and I already feel like I am contributing to the company and gaining valuable skills outside of coding.

It may not be for everyone but if you know what you want to do, put in the effort, create projects, show off your passion through those projects and you will get the internship you want.

Tips for your first interviews

1) Be prepared, research the companies values and what they do, don't focus too much on when they were founded and who their CEOs are.

2) Projects, Projects, Projects. - Find out their tech stack, or use what you love and show off projects with those. Make sure you understand your project and then talk about them non-stop.

3) Show off your passion by doing stuff outside of university curriculum

4) Network before your interview - I added current interns, graduates, previous interns via linked in and Facebook. Because of this, I had inside information to understand what the company wants and how they work, this also helped me figure out if I wanted to work at the company and why.

5) Use your University careers staff. At the University of Kent (UK), ours are amazing, you can ask them anything and they do their best to help. Most likely, they have seen many students go to the company you're interested in and know the managers who will interview you, or at least know the structure and prepare you for the interview!

Tips before your internship

A few tips I would like to give to anyone starting an internship would be:

1) Find out the tech stack, learn the basics
2) Learn the basics of the agile mindset, sprints etc
3) Jump in the deep end, drown for a little, and then ride the waves of success with your team
4) Use your team, they are there for you, you are there to learn
6) NETWORK, speak to people, find out their roles
5) Ask, Ask, Ask, however, if it is something unrelated to your specific company, maybe google stuff first, use your initiative, be proactive.

You do belong. You are there to learn. You will succeed, your team wants you to!

Guest Blogger

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Special thanks to our guest blogger Aaron Powell, a Software Development Intern for his contribution to the Ronald James Blog this week.

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