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What it's like to intern at SilverStripe

Taking part in the Summer of Tech (SoT) was an unexpected road of learning and...

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blogimagesotTaking part in the Summer of Tech (SoT) was an unexpected road of learning and opportunities for me – a graphic design student with a background in freelance web design and testing.

You've gotta be in to win

Signing up for the SoT was a natural choice for me – having already worked the web/tech industry as a freelancer, I was keen to try my hand working full-time at a web development company. After a whirlwind of workshops, meet and greets then speed interviews I wound up scoring a position at SilverStripe.

With such a competitive and talented crowd of student candidates, the thing that set me apart was that I had experience developing with SilverStripe's open source CMS. This is an important point for any aspiring SoT individuals to consider, what sets you apart to a potential employer? Maybe you have experience with a particular system or product that the company uses or have created a project or service similar to what the company produces.

Reflect on this and use it to your advantage when it comes to your SoT application process.

Cue the learning montage

Having been actively interested in web development for a few years, I had built a solid understanding of front end web design and augmented this with a basic working knowledge of using SilverStripe as a backend for a website. Having these strengths and skills, meant that I expected to be putting these into practice and strengthening my knowledge around it as I worked. Imagine my surprise when I was asked about joining the Big O team who were working on a single page JavaScript app and I would be writing tests using a Java based testing suite!

After the initial 'Huh?' moment had worn off, I quickly embraced this unique opportunity to learn something that I wouldn't have previously had the chance to do let alone consider. A few things that I found beneficial during my internship were:

  • Being able to read and pick apart an existing codebase (the project had been in progress a couple of years before me being put on the team)
  • Asking developers who were far more experienced than me and had written the code
  • Having your code peer reviewed regularly allowed me peace of mind that I was on the right track and picked up areas that I could learn from and change

In hindsight it was brave of them to put me to work on something that I had little experience in, but it ended up making my SoT experience a lot more fruitful than it might have been working with skills I had already possessed.

Onward and upward

Halfway through my internship, I got the opportunity to fly up to Auckland with a team of Stripers to contribute our time in a volunteer hackfest – impactNPO. Contributing as a front end dev and tech lead to a group of us working on creating a website for Sustainable Coastlines in 48 hours, really put what I knew to the test and it was a very enjoyable and fulfilling weekend.

After completing my 3 month internship with SilverStripe I got the fantastic offer to take a full-time role as a Junior Developer working with a newly formed small projects team, the Charm Quarks. This too has proved a time of unfamiliarity and constant learning, again being able to improve using the knowledge of more experienced developers in my team.

The key takeaway from my experience as an intern and developer at SilverStripe is to embrace the unknown and enjoy the familiar.

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