We caught up with Martin to discover what he got up to as a Summer Intern at Propel Tech. Find out what he learnt, his goals and his favourite part below!
How did you land your internship?
I began looking online for internships to gain experience in software development over the summer before returning to university in September. I searched online for opportunities on Google and came across Propel Tech’s website. It seemed to fit the bill; the team seemed so friendly, and I felt I would fit in and enjoy the work culture.
I applied for their internship opening, which led to an interview with Hannah, Head of HR, followed by a more technical interview with one of the Team Leaders, Glen, and a Developer, Charlie. They were really impressed with my enthusiasm to learn and develop my skills, so I was offered the position and was incredibly excited to get started.
What did an average day/week look like on your internship?
I was assigned a position working with the web team, and our week would start with a ‘stand-up meeting’ where everyone would give an overview of what they were currently working on. This was really insightful as a wide variety of projects were ongoing at the time, which used different processes and technologies.
I worked closely with Charlie, a talented software developer who set me a brief that would get me involved across different project areas. Working on one feature of the project at a time, implementing and testing it, Charlie would peer review and make any recommendations and suggestions. We’d sit down together and look at the code I’d written, discuss the implementation choices, and consider the impacts of different choices.
Charlie would give me pointers on things I could change about my code to structure it better, make it more maintainable, or generally improve the code quality. Once I’d made those changes, it would be on to the next feature of the project; it was fast-paced but exciting as I was given a chance to really get stuck in!
What did you learn during your time with Propel Tech?
By spending time working with more experienced developers, I learnt how to adapt my way of thinking from just ‘does it work’ to considering how it works and considering the impacts of the implementation choices. For example, “How maintainable is this?”, “How easy is it to understand for other developers?”, “If we want to come back in a year and add something else to this feature, how easy would it be to do that?”.
I also learned how to apply my academic knowledge of software development to the real world, where there are all sorts of extra constraints and other nuances that affect how we write our code.
Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started?
Not massively, the team was extremely friendly, and I picked up everything I needed to know while I was on my internship and from other developers around me.
What did you enjoy the most about your time with Propel Tech?
Being able to spend time and learn from more experienced developers – seeing how they’d approach and think about a problem. Although Propel Tech offers flexible working from home, I enjoyed being in the office, as it was always best when more of the team was in. People had open conversations about what they were working on, which helped me understand more and gave me a real sense of what it would be like working in the industry.
What are your goals for the future, and has Propel Tech had an influence?
I have one more year as an undergraduate left, and I plan to do a master's degree after that. When I’ve completed my academic learning, I think I’d enjoy a career in software development. The internship has shown me that this is something I could see myself doing.
Why did you choose Propel Tech for your internship?
I didn’t have much experience in this kind of software development before, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to gain new skills and experience. The location perfectly aligned with my other plans for the summer, and everyone I met in the interview was so welcoming and friendly.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the industry?
Ask questions when you’re unsure of anything! Or even if you are sure of it – asking questions opens up the door for discussions on why we make certain choices and what impacts and tradeoffs there are. I learned a lot from asking questions and engaging in the resulting discussion.
Also, just don’t be afraid to give it a go! When I’d given my go at implementing a feature, there were always things that came up when we were reviewing my code that I wouldn’t have learnt if my code had just been perfect from the start. Just going for it allowed me to understand other developers' strategic thinking during the coding process, which is so much more helpful than just discussing the finished product.
Martin’s mentor at Propel Tech, Charlie, commented:
“Over the last eight weeks, Martin has built an e-commerce website using the Laravel framework. Despite not having written any PHP before, Martin implemented a complete authentication system and a search function to determine statistics. He also learned the basics of AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which he used to deploy his application using an automated deployment pipeline.
“Martin was able to take the brief and break the problem down to its base requirements ending up with an excellent solution in every case. At the end of the project, he demonstrated what he had built to several senior managers. Despite the pressure of this and some challenging questions posed to him, Martin eloquently explained and defended his work.
“Martin has many qualities that would make him an excellent software developer. Best of all, he is a very fast learner! He can pick up new technologies and development practices and apply these to real problems in a short space of time. An absolute pleasure to work with and technically excellent; we hope to see Martin return to Propel Tech once he has completed his studies.”
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