Internship Update

Internship Update

First, An Apology For Slacking

Sorry for the hiatus from the blog world.  It’s been far too long since posting so I am kicking it into high gear to get back in the saddle.  Why the no communication?  In a word, I’m tired (or does that count as two words?).  With my new internship here is what my revised schedule looks like:

  • Mon/Wed/Fri: Work at my ‘real’ job for about 8 hours
  • Tues/Thurs: Commute 3 hours round trip for my internship (8+ hours spent at work)
  • Evenings: Family time then work on freelance projects
  • Weekends: More working on freelance projects, research for internship projects, mow the lawn, more Family time…

All that to say the pace of life has been racheted up a notch and it’s taken some time to adjust.  Not that I’m complaining at all.  I am super grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such experienced and talented people.  I’m also very excited to have web design clients of my own.  Is this a difficult plate to balance?  For sure.  Am I enjoying this stage?  Yes (emphasis on stage).  I am learning so much and love the path I’m on, but I’m also looking forward to when my employment is more in line with my interests.  Until then, I move onward.

Now for the actual update…

So my internship is approaching the half way point and I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts/experiences.

THINGS I EXPECTED (but I still find interesting):

Solid Team Culture 

I’ve read a lot about the different project management philosophies used in the web community and at LevelTen they use a version of Agile.  Agile is built on a team environment where every department involved in a project collaborate and communicate every step of the way. It’s been exciting to see this process in action with initial sprint meetings, daily status updates, project reviews, etc. There is constant communication going on between developers, designers, and so forth concerning each stage of development.  It’s been really amazing to see the team in action.

Nontraditional Working Environment

Every Friday they have a “Lunch & Learn” where the group eats together and the conversation goes where it will.  While my schedule doesn’t allow me to be a part of this aspect, I have benefited so much from talking with my fellow coworkers.  Those conversations have been so valuable to me as a learner.  A lot of creative work places have nontraditional elements (work from home, arcade stations, etc.) so this is part of the overall culture, but it’s still way cool to see.

Also, they have a kickin’ selection of snacks.

THINGS I DID NOT EXPECT:

I Know More Than I Thought I Did

The whole experience has been very validating to me in terms of my instinct for how to approach a website design and what points to pay attention to.  I still have a lot to learn, but I’m finding I have a good instinct.

A Supportive Supervisor

It’s not like I expected a supervisor from hell, but I really lucked out with getting matched up with the best supervisor an intern could ask for.  Kayla is an experienced UX Architect who is excited to share, teach & even delegate.  She is super positive, but still gives straight forward feedback.  She is also great at giving me opportunities to learn and create like writing for the company’s blog (Using Personas, Tips on Content Clean Up for a Redesign).

Programmers Are Humble

I haven’t met too many programmers.  I’m not sure what I expected (maybe an internet rock star type???).  The first day I went out to lunch with everybody and one of the developers asked me what my background was.  My first response was, “Well, I’m very much in the leaning stage right now…” to which he responded “Hey, we all are, right?”  Classy.  Very classy.

Those are just the highlights.  As I said I’ve been leaning a lot and with a renewed sense of determination I’m going to keep sharing in my future posts.

Big News

I have big news to share today.  Really big.  Are you ready?

I am an intern.  At an actual web design company.  I can’t even believe it.

On my first day I got to sit in on a planning meeting where projects for the next 2 weeks were discussed, debated, assigned, etc. I just sat there typing down phrases or jargon I didn’t understand so I could go back and research it later.  I kinda felt like I was in the book launch scene of Bridget Jone’s.  I was so afraid they would ask me a question and I would have nothing to say but “Can you tell me where the loos are?”

Bridget Jones Book Launch

A lot of what I heard was over my head… but I loved every minute of it.

I just couldn’t believe that I was actually sitting there, an intern at a super cool web design company.  The company I am interning for is LevelTen Interactive, a company I had first heard of a few years ago from a friend of mine who used to work there.  They create websites on a Drupal platform, like the Kimbell’s new site.  As a platform it can provide a CMS as powerful as WordPress but it can build so much more than a blog and is also known for it’s security prowess. About a year ago I attended a conference they were hosting.  They offered a Beginner Track for learning Drupal so I signed up and was smacked in the face with my own ignorance.  It was pretty brutal to my self esteem but the potential of Drupal really inspired me.  I was also really impressed that a company would be so passionate about Drupal that they would organize an entire conference just to grow the Drupal community.  I went to the same conference when it was offered again and had a much better experience.

When I knew I wanted to pursue a summer internship LevelTen was a logical choice for me to pursue.  I found an advertisement on their website for an internship possibility but unfortunately the closing date had passed the day before.  So, I picked up the phone and called.  After begging for an opportunity to just be considered I got an email.  Twenty minutes later I sent off an initial message with links to my resume.  After several more e-mails, visits and phone calls I finally got the response I had been waiting/hoping for: come on over, start at 9am.

I am an intern with an established web design company (can you tell I just keep saying that to myself?).  I’m completely nervous and so excited.  Up to now my learning journey has been pretty isolated: holed up in my cloffice, reading books, searching blog posts, watching training videos.  Now I am surrounded by experienced designers, programmers, & developers.  I can ask them questions and get feedback.  Just listening to their conversations is pushing my learning.  The words they mention most often that I don’t understand shows me where to start googling.  After just a few hours I downloaded an HTML prototype program, got a source of blog inspiration, and a recommendation of resources for running Internet Explorer on my mac.  That was just the first 4 hours.

I’m so freakin’ excited.