Many years ago, I changed career domains from Biology to Computer Science. It wasn’t a hard decision. Software engineering, programming, coding, and debugging had always been something that made my heart rate go up. But making a career change is hard, as you switch from being an expert to a complete novice. That’s why I’m proud that New Relic is getting more and more active in hiring interns to grow our teams.
What Your Team Can Learn From Interns
Adding an intern gives you a great checkpoint on the openness of your culture. Your intern should immediately feel welcome and have the opportunity to contribute. And he or she shouldn’t feel any different from the more established members of the team. Personally, I have great memories of my first internship. My team was working on a release for the Envy/Smalltalk Packager. (There were also two other New Relics onboard: Darin Wright and Bjorn Freeman-Benson.) It was a challenging and exciting time for me as I tried to keep up technically with the more experienced members of the team. It’s also where I started thinking about my own personal software process — a move away from the hack and slash ‘just make it work’ methodology that I’d learned at school. But that was the whole point: I was seen as just another member of the team, and was expected to keep up and contribute. I loved it and have never looked back. I’m one of those people who learns by doing, so being an intern and applying my learning to be part of a team shipping software was great!
You’ll also learn how complicated your internal processes are. Interns face many learning curves at the same time, so they’ll highlight any parts of your team processes that are confusing and need simplification. Your intern should be able to work within the existing team processes, and even help iterate the processes to the next level of efficiency and functionality. If she finds your processes difficult to understand, follow or even discover, then you should give them a good hard second look. We use our ‘first day commit’ onboarding process to test the efficiency of our process, not as a test of the new employee. If an inexperienced intern can get it up and running quickly, we know it’s efficient.
Interns also bring new and refreshing perspectives to your team, and make you workspace feel a little more fun, happy and upbeat. They bring a contagious attitude of experimentation and curiosity, with a healthy dose of questioning the status quo. This can result in amazing benefits to your organization. I have a story from back working on the Eclipse Debugger project. We added a new engineer to the team. He began challenging some of the decisions we had made and had some undeserved attachment to. Our team was open (and wise) enough to recognize the value of his new perspective … and it made our code better, much more maintainable and, most importantly, a better implementation/experience for our users. Win, win and win!
Carrying on the Tradition
New Relic is a company that truly understands the value of having experience diversity on a team. And I am proud to say that we are continuing the great tradition of adding interns to our teams. One of our software engineering interns, Zoe Kay, wrote up her experience here. Now she’s a full time engineer on the Business Enablement team who’s continuing to learn while also making the team better. We look forward to finding more great interns and junior developers from programs like Hackbright Academy and Portland Code School so we can continue to add awesome engineers to our team. Of course since we understand the value of interns, we pay them like every other member of the team.
Not only do we give back by providing interns opportunities, we also benefit tremendously from the perspective and enthusiasm they bring. It’s very similar to how you “get more out of the experience of volunteering/helping others than you give”. We look forward to many more pleasant surprises as we learn and are challenged by these ‘less’ experienced members of our teams.
Are you interested in interning with New Relic? We’re currently looking for Ruby and Python developer interns in any one of our San Francisco, Portland or Seattle offices. To apply or for more information, go here.