New Relic’s 16 summer interns contributed their energy and enthusiasm to many different areas of the company, including engineering, marketing, sales, business operations, and customer success.
Earlier this summer, we introduced them all. Now that summer is almost over, we wanted to check back in to find out what the experience was like, what they worked on, what they learned, and what’s next.
In this first installment of a three-part series, we talk with engineering interns Maureen Dugan and Dakota Sanchez.
From intern to employee!
Former art history student-turned-programmer Maureen Dugan spent her summer at New Relic as an engineering intern for the Platform Foundation team. Throughout her internship, she was exposed to the day-to-day operations of the team responsible for keeping our busiest Web applications running smoothly. This group collaborates and troubleshoots across all of engineering, which allowed her to learn about how the entire department functions.
Maureen is most proud of the greenfield Ruby on Rails application she built that extracts complex business logic from a legacy code base. “One of the most interesting parts of this process has been to create Docker images and containers, and build automated deployments with Jenkins for staging and production environments,” she said. Working with both Docker and Jenkins helped her develop valuable new skills over the summer.
“One of my biggest challenges,” Maureen said, “has been balancing learning a code base while also learning from stakeholders how it’s being used and where it can be improved.” Fortunately, she was able to work with people in many New Relic departments, including product management and support. Through them, she was able to draw the picture of how each group uses these particular tools and identify the major points of friction she could improve upon in a rebuild.
Maureen admired the openness of her colleagues at New Relic, who showed her how they worked through their own engineering challenges: “I appreciate colleagues who share their process: what they know, what they’re still trying to figure out, and what they’re blocked by, and that’s been a great model to learn from and follow,” she said. To reduce the intimidation factor when asking for help, her team designated a “hero” to respond to her questions and requests and ease collaboration with other teams.
“Maureen was an excellent addition to our team,” said Kate Morrow, engineering manager for the Platform Foundation team. “She was scrappy in coming up to speed technically, and immediately excelled at her ‘second job’—what we at New Relic use to refer to positive communication skills and supporting your team members to do their best work. Maureen is a great example of the type of high-potential candidate who provides as much benefit as they receive in their internship.”
What’s next for Maureen? She will be working full time at New Relic as a software engineer with the Business Enablement team in our Portland office. Welcome, Maureen!
A holistic understanding of engineering
Portland State University student Dakota Sanchez spent his summer as an engineering intern on the New Relic Mobile team, working on several Android projects in Java. He is perhaps most proud of the UX/UI upgrade of our Android APM app. “I gave it a much needed facelift and removed some unneeded dependencies,” said Dakota. He also helped optimize the Android table widgets in a prototype app, which sometimes lagged for a few seconds when displaying large (5,000+ cells) data tables. “To overcome this, I had to develop a custom table grid that loaded things dynamically,” he said. “It took a few days, but it was nice having a table with thousands of cells displayed near instantly when I was done.”
Along the way, Dakota was also happy to pick up a number of important technical skills: understanding good application architecture, working with REST Web APIs, learning to use GitHub more efficiently, hacking apart existing libraries to better suit the team’s needs, and wrangling with Gradle, among other things.
Just as important, he said, “I learned so much about what it means to be part of an engineering team. There is much more to the job than just writing code. Between stand-ups, sprint planning, demos, retrospectives, pairing, and team lunches, I had a lot of exposure to what makes a good engineering team and how to integrate myself into it.” It all added up to a more holistic understanding of engineering as a discipline.
“Dakota’s mission was to become a contributor to New Relic’s mobile apps and improve our customers’ experience,” said Senior Software Engineering Manager Jonathan Karon. “He’s a valued part of the engineering team and has succeeded brilliantly. Not only has he accomplished his goals, he has shown a passion for crafting great software and we’re going to miss him.”
So what’s next for Dakota? He will be heading back to Portland State to continue working toward a bachelor’s degree in computer science. In his free time he hopes to keep working on his own personal development projects.
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