Last time we heard from two of our San Francisco interns about their New Relic internship experience—what they learned, what surprised them, and how the experience helped shape their career paths.
Now it’s Portland’s turn. Our Portland office is where most of our engineering teams are located, and where our engineering interns spent the summer. In the second part of our series, we sit down with Daphne Watson and Lance LaMotte to ask them about their experience.
(Be sure to read our earlier profile of San Francisco interns Josh Stabinksy and Mark Murphy: Intern Confidential: 3 Months of Blood, Sweat, and Work Experience at New Relic.)
Fashioning a new career as a software developer
When she was young, Daphne Watson’s family urged her to pursue a career in modeling and fashion, and originally she thought it might be for her. It was while studying arts and fashion merchandising at San Francisco State University that a friend casually suggested she learn how to code. Because Daphne already loved sewing as a hobby and knew she enjoyed ripping apart and reassembling patterns, she thought “hacking” computer code could be a similar form of fun—and she was right: “It’s a mindset of creating something new … having the option of finishing a project in so many different ways,” she said. “This ties into coding—there is so much creativity and problem-solving involved.”
This summer Daphne put those newfound coding skills to the test at New Relic. She worked on a team that focused on tackling specific tasks within a larger set of tasks. Specifically, Daphne contributed new functionality to the Service Maps to solve real customer problems.
Engineering Manager Andrew Ettinger couldn’t have been happier with Daphne’s contributions to his team. “Daphne jumped right into our workflow,” he said. “She had structured the first part of her internship around broader mentorship, and when she joined our team she was ready to contribute.” Andrew boasted about the features she’s added and issues she’s fixed in her short time at New Relic. In fact, her work so impressed him that Daphne’s internship has been extended until the end of the year.
So what surprised Daphne about her experience? It wasn’t just Portland’s unpredictable weather: “I was surprised at how supportive New Relic has been in my career growth,” she said. “I got to work with and learn from mentors—they are awesome people.” There was a lot of information to absorb quickly as she worked alongside others who, like her, were mastering new coding languages, as well as working with senior engineers with years of experience.
In addition to learning technical skills, Daphne got the opportunity to improve her public speaking by participating in her first engineering panel. She also attended her first Code 2040 event, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping minorities underrepresented in tech achieve success. She appreciated the feeling of inclusiveness she experience during her internship. Said Daphne, “New Relic provides an environment that strives to be supportive of diversity and underrepresented groups.”
When she finishes her internship, Daphne plans to begin applying to software engineering jobs in either Portland or the San Francisco Bay Area.
A shift from medical science to computer science
As a college freshman at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Lance LaMotte was a pre-med student surrounded by friends who were studying technology. He found himself fascinated by their work and their problem-solving discussions. Before he knew it, he was watching Python tutorials and writing simple programs himself when he should have been studying for his pre-med exams.
Now, Lance has spent his summer putting his coding skills to the test as a software engineering intern on the New Relic Insights team. He worked on a frequently requested feature: the CSV export, which allows users to download tabular data from Insights as .csv files for use with spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. This gives customers the power to move their data to their own custom workflows. In the first week after the feature was released, over 2,000 CSV files were downloaded from Insights.
While Lance made valuable contributions to his team this summer, the project was not without its challenges. Developing the CSV export feature was originally planned to take a frontend implementation, but after being challenged by cross-browser pop-up blocking behavior, Lance determined that establishing a backend implementation was necessary. He worked with the team in mob-style programming (timed-interval group coding) to establish this backend implementation. “The challenge on the frontend implementation was invaluable for me,” Lance reflected, “since I essentially had to develop the same feature twice, yet in fundamentally opposite ways.”
Lance found that working closely with his team helped him to learn quickly, as they were always on hand to answer any questions and to help him think insightfully about the code he was writing. After three months on the job, he felt like he was working alongside close friends. “We loved having Lance as part of the team,” said Senior Software Engineering Manager Jonathan Karon, “Lance brought his authentic self to work every day and was equally excited to work on his own or participate in the collective process of mob programming.”
The opportunity to intern at New Relic was invaluable to Lance’s education and professional development. “Rice doesn’t have a strong curriculum in web development. This [experience] was great because I learned new skills every day,” he said. Now that summer is over, Lance plans on applying his newfound skills to the app development group he is part of at school. Lance is now contemplating a future career in web development, and is grateful for the time he got to spend learning real-world skills on the job.
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