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  • April 5, 2021

6 Months Later: Lessons Learned from Development Interns

Last year, Happy Cog hired two web development interns: Emaan Riaz and Maria Martinez. In the past six months, they’ve made a huge impact at Happy Cog and on our projects. Decorative Illustration They wrote the following to reflect on their experience.

1. What have we learned so far?

Maria: There’s just so much that I’ve learned in the last six months at Happy Cog! We began intensively studying content modeling and quickly shifted to creating templates and making database changes with Craft CMS to update live sites for clients! I had the opportunity to dig deeper into React and Redux, and, working closely with experienced devs, adapted crucial soft-skills such as effective communication with my teams, prioritization of tasks, and perhaps most importantly, managing stress and imposter syndrome. It was really great to feel the dev team’s openness with imposter syndrome. It is always easier to overcome when there’s an active conversation.

Emaan: Looking back at when I first started this internship, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown as a developer. Although my work at Happy Cog primarily focused on using Twig to hook up templates to Craft CMS, I also picked up so many other skills and technologies along the way. I worked with Tailwind and Sass to create front-end components, I used SauceLabs to perform QA testing, and I also implemented some JavaScript functionality. Most importantly, however, I learned what it means to be a good team member: being communicative, asking questions, and sharing ideas.

2. Is there anything you wish you had learned but didn’t get the chance to during internship?

Maria: I wish I had more time to work with designers and learn more about making wireframes and the decision-making process with clients. I did have the chance to work with wireframes, in order to build UI for a Login page, for example, and learned how to use Sketch and Figma to create templates that match designs as accurately as possible.

Emaan: Towards the end of the internship, I became more interested in the back-end process of launching a website. In the future, I’d love to learn more about working with databases and AWS.

What was the most difficult part of the internship?

Maria: For me, the hardest part was dealing with self-doubt. Being inexperienced, coupled with learning several different technologies and frameworks in a short period of time, felt overwhelming at times — especially in the beginning. But, again, thanks to the open environment the development team fosters, the conversation keeps going. I learned not only how to deal with this issue proactively, but also that I was not alone.

Emaan: For me, the most difficult part of this internship was learning how to communicate effectively. In the early days, there were definitely a couple of times where I struggled on my own for hours because I was afraid to ask a question. Down the line, as I gained more experience and was handed more urgent tasks, the fear of appearing ‘stupid’ faded away.

How did you feel working with senior developers on real-world projects?

Maria: It’s honestly so fun working with developers who can solve a bug in a cinch! There were times when I felt like I was racking my brain, trying to debug, and then came an experienced dev, who fixes the bug in a split second! I learned so many important tips, like git commands I’d never used, web resources that make finding answers to tough questions more effective, and, being receptive of their feedback, I also learned a lot about how I can improve myself as a developer.

Emaan: I’m really grateful that I was able to work with senior developers on projects because it was a huge learning opportunity for me. I was able to ask questions and receive answers that were based on years of experience. Sometimes just looking at other developers’ code was enough to help me grasp a concept. Building off of their work and using the knowledge that they passed to me gave me a huge boost of confidence in my own abilities.

What is your proudest moment/contribution on a project as an intern?

Maria: My proudest accomplishments were definitely the UI implementations I added to live sites that clients and users around the world can see and use. Some of these include image carousels, mobile swipe buttons that make navigating our sites on your phone a lot easier, and even cool hover animations using jQuery!

Emaan: I’m proud of the contributions that I made to the Craft sites that I worked on. Over the last six months I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of content management systems and custom templates.

What is your most important takeaway from this internship?

Maria: My takeaway is that it is okay to not know. I began this internship afraid of failure and scared of not knowing a certain technology or how to solve a difficult problem, but I’ve gained a boost of confidence and a sense of relief in the realization that what’s really important is your persistence to keep learning and to not give up when things get tough.

Emaan: The most important lesson that I’ve learned from this internship is that, as a developer, you will constantly be learning and evolving. Although it is daunting to know that there is no finish line, it is also what makes it exciting. I’ve realized that an important part of my career development is being surrounded by people who are passionate about learning and dedicated to creating the best possible product.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Maria: I’m passionate about accessibility and making the internet friendly to all. As an intern, I had the chance to participate in tech conferences in which accessibility was a popular topic. This sparked my interests and I began learning more about how web development and accessibility go hand in hand, and how I can help reach accessibility standards. In five years, I see myself as an accessibility expert or consultant. I hope to help further push accessibility to the forefront in front-end development, in my community and beyond.

Emaan: In the next five years, I see myself working as a full stack developer at a small company. I would love to work at a non-profit organization or a startup. I feel most fulfilled and motivated when I can work closely with other team members and when I can see that my contributions have a positive impact on the world.

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