8. My Internship Goals

When I first began the Saltire application process back in October, I was also looking for internships elsewhere. I knew that gaining an internship would be great for career advancement after university, but that was all I saw it as - a grab for recognition from potential employers. Whilst it is true that a good internship will stand out, I came to realise that this shouldn’t be the sole reason for the internship search. Internships benefit you in many more ways than just a paragraph on your resume.

I knew of the opportunity for vital industry connections to be made. I knew that I could work on real-world projects, grow as a person, and enhance both the technical and personal skills I have. I knew this, in theory, but I didn’t expect it to be so inevitable.

Aside from networking, when I first set out here in California I had just one primary goal:

Work as a Team

Some might postulate that this is obvious. And it is. Though I feel it’s also something ninety-percent of people put on their resume or cover letters, but in reality are just not that good at it executing it. Also, this goal encompasses many sub-goals which are listed in the summary. Speaking for myself, I lean to more of an independent problem solver. This may because some group projects have been challenging, or team members have been difficult to work with, even though it’s likely people have had the same opinion of me. So why have I put this obvious goal?

When I graduate next year, I’m going to be begin my career. The field I want to be in, software engineering revolving around artificial intelligence, just cannot be done solo. The concepts of artificial intelligence can be quite complex. Without engaging in team talks, I’ll likely never make it off the first rung of the ladder. I want to be cooperative, engaging, and open-minded. Working towards my primary goal of teamwork will likely assist in this.

The most challenging part of this goal for me was to just ask questions. I get into a mindset that if I have spent hours trying to solve a problem, my approach is probably poor anyway and my pride will be hurt if I’m told as such. Secondly, the time taken solving these technical problems means that I have tried numerous methods, and I used to feel that I wouldn’t be able to explain what I had attempted clearly. Throughout this internship I have had daily struggles with the project. That’s no exaggeration. Sometimes I’m being an idiot, but other times I simply need more than what a Google search can provide. I need a discussion.

I wouldn’t say it took long for me to assimilate to that way of working. My supervisors here are engineers and have whiteboards in their offices. I’d be invited in and have to stand in front to present my trials and tribulations. I wasn’t nervous, though certainly concerned that I’d be unclear. However, the two colleagues were great in leading a discussion. If I didn’t explain an idea fully, they didn’t just stare gormlessly. Instead, they then retorted with what they had understood so far, and I’d be offered to jump in any time.

Since I’ve had a few of these whiteboard sessions, I now believe that teamwork isn’t about just getting stuff done together. It’s about opening discussions and actually listening to the responses. It’s about planning and execution. It’s about asking for criticism and giving it back constructively. It’s about keeping it together when your ideas don’t get used. And it’s about realising that mistakes get made, and that’s a good thing. This style of work is certainly something I’ll take back home with me and I’m looking forward to using it in the future. Open forum, genuine teamwork.

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Written on July 10, 2018