The following article is part of a series of articles about our NerdWallet Summer Internship program. Daniel Mao is a student at UC Berkeley and shared their experience as an software engineer intern. If you are curious about joining NerdWallet as an intern or full-time employee, please apply for one of our open positions!
Nearly every student studying Computer Science or a similar discipline will tell you that interning at a tech company is one of the most rewarding things an aspiring Software Engineer or other similar professionals can do. With so many options to pick from, it’s hard to tell exactly where you’ll find the best fit for you. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure is by taking the plunge and interning. Since we can’t intern at every company under the sun, here’s the next best thing. This is what I learned from 12 weeks as an Intern Software Engineer at NerdWallet on the Content Platform Team, summarized in five P’s: people, professional development, project, perks, and play.
From the very beginning of the hiring process, NerdWallet stood out from the traditional experience all interns have to go through — the dreaded interview. Their interview process was unique in how friendly and caring everyone involved was. Weekly check-ins via email or phone were sprinkled throughout leading up to and after speaking with engineers and managers. During the technical portions, the interviewers made it feel like a conversation with a friend rather than a make-or-break coding challenge. Every step of the way I was kept in the loop about what the recruitment team was thinking, where they were at with hiring, and even feedback about how I performed, providing the utmost transparency.
After being hired, life at the company was more of the same, a lot of sincere people who were excited to have us, the Nerdlings, as NerdWallet interns are affectionately nicknamed. NerdWallet makes it easy to feel comfortable. Starting from the bright, aesthetically designed office space to the friendliest people you’ll encounter. Due to the nature of NerdWallet being a mid-sized startup, it’s easier to get to know the people you see every day. Every time I needed help with a technical question, there would be someone a small walk away who wanted to help. Everyone always made themselves available when they could and made me feel welcome to ask all my questions. Further support came in the form of Culture Buddies, an intern support system NerdWallet pioneered as another line of contact aside from your mentor and manager. These were full-time engineers whom you could speak to about anything at the company and are not responsible for evaluating you after your time there. It’s an understatement to say there were a lot of good people to look up to and learn from. The people at NerdWallet truly made the experience both fun and worthwhile from both a technical and personal standpoint.
Dedicating an entire summer is a big commitment and it’s never a great feeling to feel like you’ve wasted it by not improving yourself. At NerdWallet, making sure I was prepared to excel at my job and wherever else I might find myself in the future was a top priority. At one point, I was mistaken for a full-time engineer since the line between an intern and a full-time Nerd is blurred due to the level of autonomy interns are given. I was provided the opportunity to sit in during important meetings, being treated as a full-time employee and given a taste of what it’s truly like to be a software engineer. I was put into their workflow process, shown the ropes, given a challenging but rewarding project that involved learning on the job and even being given the chance to lead a real meeting. My mentor, manager, and the team I worked on as a whole made it a point to allow me the chance to make a slide deck, present it, and only step in when necessary. In addition, NerdWallet encourages and helped to set up multiple conversations with my team, management leads and other engineers where I was able to get advice from working professionals as high up as the VP of Engineering and the CEO himself.
The project NerdWallet offers its interns is something real that will help the company in some way. My project for the summer was the RSS Structured Content project. The purpose of my project was intended to help close the gap in NerdWallet’s migration to a new technology stack. Specifically, I worked with technologies like React, Structured Content, and RSS to maintain NerdWallet’s syndication abilities through RSS feeds. This was an important project that involved working in more than one repo owned by members of different teams and critical to the company since NerdWallet produces a lot of content consumed by third-party partners. The project was challenging but made me feel great knowing that it would be incorporated and eventually put into production, not simply something to pass the time for interns. Throughout my work, I learned new technologies I had never explored before and collaborated with many engineers on my team and otherwise who provided insights and context to help my project and furthered my professional learnings. Near the end of my internship, I presented my summer’s work company-wide during our big, science fair style project presentation showcase.
Perks and Play
Like many tech companies, the perks are always something coveted amongst interns, and NerdWallet’s were no different. NerdWallet has a diverse assortment of snacks and drinks, an on-site barista to take care of all your caffeinated needs, free breakfast and lunch served daily, cool branded swag — backpacks, shirts, jackets, sweaters, stickers, etc., ping pong and foosball, as well as a healthy happy hour culture often themed and food provided. As a NerdWallet intern, it isn’t all work and no play. Summer interns were taken to a variety of amazing intern events including a San Francisco Giant’s game, bowling, escape room, volunteering, and Casino Night.
Being an intern at NerdWallet has been a great experience filled with hard work, good people, and lots of snacks. It’s not all the time that you get the opportunity to work for a company that has fantastic people with the homey, bright vibes that NerdWallet gives off from the moment you step out of the elevator. If you like working with people who are genuinely kind and invested in your growth then “Turn to the Nerds”.