Starting My Internship at Software Engineering Professionals (SEP)

About a month after my campus interview with SEP, I got an email from their HR department with the subject header "SEP Summer Internship Offer." I was rather happy. (Xavier: More like bro-fisting-everyone happy.) I had other offers, but SEP was definitely the place I wanted to be. After I accepted the offer, SEP emailed me a list of their projects for the summer. I was allowed to pick my top four, and then they tried to match me up with a team on my preferences. Being able to choose my teams was a unique experience and a fun one, too!

Two weeks after my freshman year wrapped up, I flew in to Indianapolis. My dad came up with me to help move me into some comfortable rooms at the Providence at Old Meridian apartments. SEP doesn't offer housing arrangements for students outside of downtown Indy, so I'd looked up apartments that offered short-term leases and were within biking range of the office. One fun thing about Carmel (the Indianapolis suburb that is home to SEP): it's very bikeable. The Monon Trail runs right past SEP's building and can take one to burgers, delicious ice cream, and Japanese food in a matter of minutes. So I didn't bring a car. Without a car, I'd be encouraged to settle down a bit instead of driving all over the place. (Xavier: I should also mention that cars are expensive.)

Of course, settling down doesn't happen in the dynamic environment at SEP. I know that "dynamic, fast-paced environment" almost always gets thrown around by companies as they try to recruit college talent, but SEP is the real deal. Even on the first day, things were moving fast. Paperwork was completed in a meeting room. Then two SEP engineers dropped in to talk about internship book clubs and writing for the SEP blog (which in case you haven't guessed is what nudged me to spin up my own blog online). I was issued keys to the building, a keycard to scan me in and out of the security system, and a binder full of new hire information. A tour of the office followed, and then I was introduced to my team. They took me out to lunch at a nice restaurant nearby, where I was briefed on the project.

My team was building a desktop Windows application that was supposed to take over product sales-related number-crunching for our client, a global multibillion-dollar household goods conglomerate. I was wowed at the scale of impact our software was having. It was at this point that I started to feel just a bit underqualified. (Xavier: Not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty qualified for my job.)

Back at the office, I was shown to my desk at our team's area. It was huge: A modern-looking, white desk with dual monitors, a set of drawers with a cushion on top for a second engineer to sit at, some office supplies, and an extremely comfortable swivel chair. (Xavier: Basically, about as awesome as my desk). I was handed the team's "New Developer Guide" and encouraged to ask questions. Then I was allowed to start setting up my development environment.

By the end of the day, I was feeling very underqualified. I didn't know how to use a single tool that I'd installed on my machine, and the team was constantly talking about stuff that I had no clue about. Not to mention that I'd never used C#, the language being used to write almost everything.  There was not settling down, that was for sure: everything was over my head.

If that were the story of my summer, my internship would've really sucked. But fortunately, it wasn't. (Xavier: Obviously; there'd be no point in writing this post otherwise). My teammates were incredibly patient and supportive, going out of their way to make sure I was comfortable asking questions and always trying to help me.  For my part, I worked hard to sponge up the new information as best as I could. I also spent time reading about the tools we were using to learn how to apply them. After the first few days on the job, I was on my feet and ready to take on some real work.

In my next post, I'll be summarizing my summer-long work experience at SEP to wrap things up.