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News | 5 min read | 12/02/2018

My experience as an intern at a tech startup

Intro

I’m 6 months into a year long placement at Reward Cloud, now’s the perfect time to reflect and look to the next 6 months. I’ll be honest, I didn’t entirely know what to expect or if I was going to enjoy it. 6 months on I can say I’m glad I have had the opportunity and have had a lot of fun along the way. My biggest fear before starting my internship was exactly how much was I expected to know.

What am I studying?

I study Digital Media Development (BSc) at the University of Brighton. Despite its broad and wishy-washy course title it covers a range of core computing and design subjects but emphasises web technologies. The course I study is classed as a ‘sandwich degree’. Rather than a standard 3-year course a sandwich degree gives you the option of taking a year out of University to find an internship or placement position.

From University to Reward Cloud

I was one of the lucky few in my year that managed to find a placement. Although sandwich degrees are fairly common, there’s no guarantee that you will find a placement nor is it compulsory towards my degree. It’s pretty much the same as looking for a job in the tech industry, I created a portfolio, provided a CV and eventually had an interview. I emailed A LOT of companies in the search for a placement, it’s very much a speculate to accumulate type of situation.

Working at a tech startup

Turn up at 10, leave at 2… rinse and repeat. Not quite, but in all seriousness, it’s a fairly normal working day. That being said there are definitely some positives to working at a startup.

Being a small team with an ever-expanding list of projects there is always plenty of work to be done. This keeps the pace of work quick and means you are often working on new features. Working in a small team has definitely helped me learn from the more experienced engineers.

The relaxed atmosphere in the office is also a definite plus for me. As a whole the business is incredibly transparent. Being privy to some of the business decisions as well as the opportunity to have an input on the direction of the business definitely makes you feel valued. It also gives you an insight into exactly how the features you develop are going to impact our clients.

Skills

It would be impossible for me to list everything I’ve learnt since I’ve been at Reward Cloud, but I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot. It’s crazy when I think of all of the things I have learnt in the last 6 months. Everything from new tools, frameworks, languages, best practices, backend, frontend; all of the tech buzzwords… It’s also crazy to think of the amount I have learnt when compared to the previous 2 years at University.

Socialising with team

Firstly, let’s get the serious stuff out the way. We have an internal fantasy football league that I’m winning. We are on game week 27 / 38. Hopefully I can hang on until the end of the season. Perhaps this will be my legacy when I go back to University. Asides from fantasy football, we go on monthly team lunches as well as going to the odd conference here and there.

A few of us in the office are keen runners, we’ve got plans for a Park Run challenge at the events around Brighton. We’re also planning some squash sessions over the next few weeks. An important part of the week is often doughnut / beer Friday. The local bakery does freshly made doughnuts on a Friday, often wacky flavours like maple syrup and bacon.

Conclusion

The best decision I made was applying for an internship. I feel much more confident going into my final year, as well as having far more experience. It’s also been a welcome break from the previous 2 years of University. My one aim of getting a degree was finding a career that I felt had challenge and was something I enjoyed doing. This year has made me feel I’ve made the right choice and am doing something I genuinely enjoy doing. I’m grateful for the opportunity and have had fun working with the team. Despite not having had an intern before and having no formal internship programme the team have fully supported me throughout. I’ve integrated into the team well and who knows, maybe after University if they are looking for a graduate; I might be back.