Fang Talks

Double-reverse irony

This took precisely half an hour. How’s that for performance?

As you may have heard me say, the internship was absolutely amazing. It was my first real work experience, since small tasks and single website projects don’t really count as a full-time job. The internship changed that. It was an actual forty-hour work-week job where I channeled my productivity into an actual product that is currently being used by people within that company to save time and money. Essentially, my internship involved improving internal processes by way of making an easy to use application.

The past two years as a student haven’t been exceptionally demanding. I could always keep up easily and workload wasn’t that heavy. Lots of free time, too. The internship was quite the contrast to that. My daily routine was getting up around 6:20 AM, leaving the house at 7:00 AM, commuting to work, spend 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM there working relatively intensely, then being back home around 6:00 PM to have dinner, wind down, and head to bed at 10:00 PM. That’s approximately three hours of free time a day, tops. Compared to my previous situation, where I had entire days to spend on my own projects, this was quite rough at first.

For the above reason, travel time sucks hard. I spent almost two precious hours every day getting to and from work. And that time adds up! Flexible starting times really help with this in that you aren’t as dependent on the availability of decent travel options.

Many smaller bright points quickly emerged. For example, to go with the above, weekend suddenly became much more enjoyable, since they’re so much more different from your average day now. And even then, on the average day, you’re learning so much, it really pumps you up to stop moaning and keep going. And so I did.

There’s also many larger things that made the whole experience so good. As I mentioned a thousand times already, I learned a lot. Not only from the work I did, but also from the people around me. They’re people who’ve been in the field for at least a couple of years already, and have way more experience than you can currently fathom ever having. It was really interesting to hear what they had to say during breaks (people talk about their cars a lot apparently) and how they approached certain kinds of problems.

Speaking of problems, one of the most valuable things I have seen was that things weren’t always going perfectly. And when things aren’t going perfectly, a solution has to be thought up. No amount of studying and practicing can prepare you for things like this in the real world, so I am super grateful I got to witness some of it first-hand from a safe distance, so to speak. For example, there was a short period during which a lot of work was available, but almost all of that work was for a select few people in the team. The workload was unbalanced over the breadth of the project, leading to some people getting tons of tasks on their plate, while others had to resort to “we’ll see what comes up today”. This isn’t something you’ll ever see in a school-setting or anywhere but the real world, really. And I got to witness how the team dealt with that issue and learn from their mistake.

Okay, I’ll be perfectly honest here. The first week or two were pretty rough and the idea of having to spend a hundred work days at the internship intimidated me. Once I got into the stage of actually being able to constantly work on the project though, that started to vanish. I experienced first-hand why people always say “you need to find a job you love”. My passion for the field got channeled into my work, I put in a lot of effort, and delivered a rather neat product that’s helping lots of folks out.

And people are thankful for it! Oh man, I had the biggest grin on my face the first time someone said they appreciated my work. It’s the best part of the job. Sure, this may mean they’ll be back for every little thing, but that’s fine. You know you’re really helping them out and saving them the hassle of doing all kinds of mundane tasks by hand. It’s absolutely magical.

Maybe all this is a slightly glorified view of how things would actually go once I have a real job instead of just an internship. Whereas I got to work on a standalone project for internal use mostly by myself, all my colleagues were doing feature implementations and (lots of) bug fixes for existing software. That’s the less glamorous part of the job, but I realize that’s part of it too.

All in all though, I’d say those hundred days were one of the best and most important ones in my life thus far. It’s been a really good experience. I’ve learned work can actually be fun, so I don’t have as much anxiety over one day having to stop being a student anymore.

I may have gotten myself some RSI, but trust me: totally worth it.
~ Fang


  • 02/02/2015 (3:23 PM)

    Cheers to that! Glad you had a good time of it. Back when I was working in an office, I loved this stuff, especially those ‘things have gone awry, we need to form a plan’ situations. As you said, no schooling can prepare you for that.

    When you have the right team, it’s a lot of fun putting your heads together and coming up with a solution. And it’s all worth it to hear a coworker say, “Good job on that one, man.”

  • Joey
    02/02/2015 (11:48 AM)

    Traveling is something you can get used to.
    To me, my hours traveling by train are the most productive of the day!
    I trained myself working in the train, laptop, coffee and good to go!

    I mostly tend to work on small things ‘that need to be done’, things you normally tend to shove forward.
    Also code refactoring, documentation, research, perfect job for a half hour or more.

    • 02/02/2015 (12:53 PM)

      Trains, sure! But busses kind of suck for that, sadly.

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