The following article is part of a series of articles about our NerdWallet Internship program. Kenny Rozario 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!
Butterflies. Even with four other internships completed, I had butterflies walking into NerdWallet’s offices for the first time. When I sat down for orientation the nervousness faded as the new experience materialized. Orientation concluded, it was time to meet the team and begin the next four months of my life; little did I know it would mark the beginning of two fantastic four month blocks of 2020.
I’m going to share these experiences with you in terms of how things were the first time around and compared to how they are right now. Tag along for the journey as I go over how the office life, the team and the work completed changed or stayed the same!
The Nerdling life in the office compared to at home
Going into the office was an amazing experience. The welcoming folks at the front desk greet you when you walk through the elevators. An amazing barista is at the bar if you want to grab some coffee. Booths on both walls let you have your coffee, do some work or just chat with co-workers. Did I mention they have a Pop-A-Shot basketball game in the area? No? Well now you know one of the many ways you can have fun. If we leave the “reception” area, you could go to the kitchen and cafeteria area where breakfast and lunch were served, personally I loved this, it was what I aspired to cook, but was already made! Office features aside, being in person had some fun benefits such as being able to get together with people for playing board games or Smash. We also had culture buddies to help us understand the culture surrounding the company and to be a source of guidance outside our work. We ended up being able to have events with them like going out to get boba together.
When COVID became prominent in the middle of the internship, we were able to actually come back home to Canada and continue our internship. This didn’t stop the events. We had online game nights, opportunities to get together for lunch and the two of them combined!
Online events became more prominent the second time around at Nerdwallet, our events and gatherings weren’t just limited to games and food (though there’s nothing wrong with that!), we explored something new! We ended up taking a drawing class together which was something I hadn’t ever done before. The week after writing this my team will also be having a dumpling making class together via Zoom, so even though we can’t all be together in person, NerdWallet facilitates an in-office experience while at home.
Time to put the “I” somewhere in Production Engineering
When I joined the team, it was known as DevOps, but shortly after had changed to be known as Production Engineering and as of writing this I’m on the part of the team known as Developer Productivity. This team consisted of some brilliant and food-loving engineers. I’m not exaggerating, they had a four-part venn diagram to determine overlapping ingredients and what they result in. Think I’m joking? Take a look at their masterpiece right here:
My teammates were knowledgeable in so many facets of the production engineering domain. No matter the question about tools and technologies, someone had the answer. Not only do they have the answers, they are some of the best at explaining things. I always ended up with the exact amount of context needed, the right amount of information to satisfy my understanding as well as an appropriate amount of action items to continue my tasks / further my own learning.
The way my manager, Wyatt, operated was amazing. He made sure to understand what I wanted to do during my internship both times and helped facilitate a project that was both valuable to the company and helped me achieve my career and learning goals. Furthermore, one thing I noticed in meetings and over the course of both terms was that Wyatt would enable the team to solve problems on their own prior to stepping in and offering insight. This is also a testament to the culture of the team, a group of individuals who want to see each other help others arrive at solutions themselves in order to facilitate their growth as a developer and problem solver.
Let’s talk about mentorship, because that’s a big part of the internship experience. I’ve had a different mentor each internship here, but one thing that stayed in common was the support. They were there to provide advice on my project and work to unblock me, but the support didn’t stop there. They also helped me understand how to advance my capabilities within the company, which opportunities to pursue and how to achieve my career goals.
Same team, different work
Going into my first internship at NerdWallet, I knew I’d be working on a project of some sort, my main requirement was that I’d get an opportunity to work with external stakeholders. In all my previous internships, my work consisted of grabbing tickets from a backlog and working on them. Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with this, I just wanted to grow in other areas. This project was special since I was able to design and propose a solution, meet with stakeholders to assess the implementation details, implement the solution and finally onboard teams to use the project! This whole process wasn’t without its challenges. I never wrote a project plan before, but I learned how to. I also had to write up documentation to the extent that anyone having to maintain the project could do so as effortlessly as possible. All-in-all it was a unique experience and I gained skills that I didn’t have prior.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to give it another go, except this time it would be entirely remote. However, this didn’t really change my perception of the work as I already knew almost everyone on the team and was familiar with the overall infrastructure. That being said, the type of work I did changed quite a bit as I was doing “general” ticket work as opposed to a project. It helped me understand the scope of everything the team handles as well as how we integrate new projects into a larger ecosystem of projects. This was quite challenging as the amount of code bases I was required to operate within significantly increased and to see how they all interacted with each other was tough. Though, through some pairing sessions and help from my mentor I could resume working with a much better understanding of the existing infrastructure.
People often say “third time’s the charm,” but at NerdWallet, my first time was enough to convince me of what a great place it is.