Hello World, Hello IBM
From past experiences, it takes me two weeks to settle into a new job.
To assimilate into the team.
To get used to the culture.
To establish a routine.
I started at IBM on May 4th, 2020 and today marks the end of week two.
Now, I won't be able to tell you whether I've met this goal today and I definitely can't predict whether these past two weeks will be representative of my experience for the rest of my internship.
Nor should I want it to.
A New Environment
Change is good.
Change forces me to adapt and change creates opportunities for new experiences. I previously held a position with the Government of Ontario. During my time there, I did a lot of work on a legacy system. Within the first two weeks at IBM, I started learning six different technologies. Some of which I had never heard of before.
In just two weeks, working at IBM has given me more opportunities for learning than two months in the public sector (though I definitely still look back at my time with the Ontario Public Service quite fondly and it continues to be the defining experience of my life).
For my first task, I learned to use bits of Ruby, CoffeeScript, and Sentry. For my second task, I’ll be learning and using Docker, Kubernetes, and Helm. Due to my limited experience with these technologies, I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of them just yet. That’ll have to be for another article.
Through these tasks, I saw a software development process in practice. I saw how decisions were made and what design choices would or wouldn’t make the cut. I saw how people maintained a disciplined software development process.
In addition, my manager has been doing a great job of guiding the new interns and I. With his help, I started this Gatsby development blog, met a great community of supportive developers, and felt welcome within the team.
I was always able to ask questions and I had access to many resources to assist me with my work. I met 3 interns who inspire me to be better and push me to excel in my work.
Despite all of this, change inevitably brings uncertainty.
Change Strikes Back
These past two weeks have been a lot to take in. So many new things to learn and technologies that I had never used before. There were new kinds of errors to fix and new tools to use to fix them. Architecture is different. Best practices are different. The working environment was different. It was a bit like putting together IKEA furniture. It's all a bit confusing and overwhelming but once I get it done I’ll be wondering why I was having a hard time.
I knew during the two weeks I would experience a degree of uncertainty but reminded myself that I would ask questions even if they seemed dumb.
In the field, developers are expected to know the absolute fundamentals of the role they’re trying to fill. During my interview, I was asked if I knew what the difference between a POST and PUT request was (Side note: even though I had experience creating APIs with those requests and I remember reviewing my notes on different requests, I was honestly so nervous I can’t even remember if I answered the question correctly).
Now you can bet your bottom dollar that if a new hire asked me what the difference was, I’d explain it with such enthusiasm and care that even a five-year-old could understand it. Although it may be overkill, it’s an opportunity to craft a story and leave a small impact on someone. I definitely can’t be the only one who thinks like this.
If you’re starting out with basic programming, a new intern or even a junior developer, you should definitely do a little bit of research. After all, Google and StackOverflow are in the tool belt of every developer.
If you can’t figure it out alone, then ask your question. It’s okay. You’re new. As you progress through your internship and career, you’ll wish you had asked more.
I didn’t go into any technical details in this article. I’ll be talking more about my experiences working with various technologies as I gain more experience with them. My goal is to provide a more intuitive and less monotonous explanation of tech used within the industry.
I wasn't the only intern that started in the team 2 weeks ago. For more perspectives on what it was like to begin an internship at IBM, check out the blogs of fellow interns Ben Honda, Michael Roudnitski, and Sandip Saha Joy.