Reflecting On My Time as a Development Intern

My internship at ICON Worldwide this summer was an experience that I will always cherish. Zurich in the summer is obviously beautiful (albeit very expensive), and its prime location makes it easy to visit other European cities. In fact, I’d argue it’d be a waste not to travel around Europe while you’re here. I do also feel as though it’s easy to find the positives of such an internship on a less career-oriented level. My internship was successful because so much of my summer was also spent learning.

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As a front-end development intern at ICON, I learned so much and got a lot of practical development experience. I was immediately put into company projects, worked well with, and learned a lot from, the other full time developers.

The most basic, barebones requirements needed to navigate this internship are a fluency in HTML and SCSS, and, at least, a basic understanding of PHP and JavaScript (including jQuery). From there, I feel as though it’s possible to build up on one’s experience using other technologies in order to really get into the projects.

The first project I worked on used WordPress, and almost all the other major projects that I contributed to this summer had been built using Drupal, an open source content management system based in PHP. I previously didn’t have too much experience using Drupal or WordPress before coming into this internship, aside from getting a couple of lessons deep into a few courses on Udemy. While I think the learning curve is a bit more forgiving for picking up WordPress, Drupal can be a little more confusing.

In either case, I made it my business to become more familiar with both while I was interning. It was worth it for me to take some time, especially if it was only three or four hours over the weekend, to further familiarize myself with the technology that would be used during the week.

With the final project I worked on by myself, I was given the opportunity to build a site from scratch, using whatever technology I wanted. I decided to use Angular, because it was a framework that I had already been interested in learning for a while now. Deciding to use this framework meant I had a little less insight from the other developers, as they weren’t familiar with my codebase, but it also meant that nearly all the progress I made was my own — I currently feel a lot more capable.

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In order to be successful and to make the most out this internship, there were a few things that were important for me to keep in mind:

  • Ask a lot of questions, but do my own research.
 The ICON team is, for sure, very close knit, open and receptive to insightful questions and willing to help out if you feel stuck. But the real learning comes from learning to solve problems on your own. This is where I should say that, if they aren’t already, Google, YouTube and StackOverflow should be your best friends.
  • Take ownership of the work I contributed to.
 I genuinely enjoyed what I was working on, and wanted it to be good work.
  • Have fun!
 Speaking from my own experience, the change of scenery that came with this internship was very necessary. Although becoming a more proficient developer was my first priority, the environment grows on you, very easily and very naturally. You can unwind with your coworkers after the workday is over, and the office’s proximity to the lake makes for a well appreciated respite should things get too hectic.

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In short, my internship at ICON was a rewarding experience in which I learned so much about developing for web. I would highly recommend this internship to others who are new in their careers, and looking for opportunities to grow in a supportive setting with the beautiful Swiss Alps as a backdrop. 🙂

-Vanessa Rene