As I walked into the offices of LifeShare on June 3rd I had no idea what to expect from my first internship and “real world” work experience. For fifteen years I had completed assignment after assignment only to shelve everything I had worked on after the due date had passed. However, through this summer internship I have been able to produce real world product that is now in production for a growing company and have learned countless lessons while doing it. Among these, three specific takeaways stand out.
Image courtesy of user Fred Kuipers via freeimages.com
Don’t Give Up
Early in my journey with LifeShare I felt myself getting very discouraged. I felt that it was taking me much longer than it should have to get the hang of the environment for which I was developing and that I should have had more to show for my work than I did. As time passed, however, I found myself getting more and more proficient with the software’s architecture and I started to see real progress being made in my work. Now, as I end the summer, I have been able to complete over fifteen different projects which have or will go into a production release of LifeShare’s software. One such project allowed me to develop a new administrative account management portion of LifeShare’s web application. This project involved multiple stages and iterations before it was completed. Had I given up early in the summer I would have never been able to see the fruits of my labor or feel the sense of accomplishment that I now feel. It is great to know my work will live on even after I’m back in class this fall.
Think Long Term
School projects are great tools for learning and immersing students into the topic that is being taught in a course. However, these projects tend to lend themselves to teaching a bad habit, not thinking long term. Most of these projects are thrown away after the end of the course and never thought of or touched again. Because these projects are just thrown away many times students do not worry about trying for foresee a future issue or use of the project. This experience has taught me that in the workplace it is extremely important to think long term. On many occasions throughout the summer I would present my fully working projects to my boss for review only to be sent back to fix various portions of the code. Why? To make it friendlier for the future. While my code would fulfill the job that it was meant for many times it could also help in completing future projects if designed correctly. This summer taught me that to be successful in both business and in life.
Believe In Your Product
I have always believed the most worthwhile type of job is one that helps other people. The LifeShare team’s desire to help and improve the quality of life for the senior community is one of the key reasons that I was drawn to work for the company. Throughout the summer I have seen the power of believing in what you are doing first hand. Journalist David Frost once said, “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” If you believe in what you are creating or working on you are much more likely to provide an end product of a much higher quality.
This summer has taught me valuable lessons I will be able to take with me the rest of my life. These lessons will help guide me in both my future work and life for years to come. While my experience may not be representative of other internships my peers may have had at the same time, for me, it has been empowering. I can’t thank my co workers enough for their patience and guidance this summer along with the countless lessons they have taught me.
Trevor Burch is a Junior student at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology from Fairbanks, Indiana who is majoring in Computer Science and Software Engineering. When he’s not writing code, he enjoys watching college basketball and NASCAR and listening to a lot of music. When he graduates, he wants to develop software with a company that strives to make a positive and meaningful difference in the world.