Turn to the Nerdlings: My SWE Internship at NerdWallet

Sept. 4, 2019
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The following article is part of a series of articles about our NerdWallet Summer Internship program. Annie Nguyen 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!

I can’t believe 11 weeks of my NerdWallet summer internship has flown by. I’m currently writing to you from my nice and cushy chair at my spacious desk inside the bright and airy office of NerdWallet while waiting for my code to build, and it all just hit me. My internship has gone by, and now there’s only 1 week left. I’ve met so many amazing people, created memories, and learned much more than I thought I could along the way.

Before interviewing for NerdWallet, I had no idea what NerdWallet was and never even used the site. After hearing about their mission to inform people and give people confidence about financial decisions, I was interested in learning more. Although I talked to my interviewers and recruiters about what NerdWallet does, I feel like I never really knew until I started working.

My internship started as any internship does: orientation, company swag, meeting the team, computer setup issues, and being lost around the office. My team started me on a few tickets to make a few changes to the website. Then, it was time to figure out JavaScript, React, and Redux. Never having done front-end before, I nodded along, but inside I was kind of freaking out. There was no real reason to though because everyone on the team knew about my project, and I could really go to anyone for help, which was immensely comforting. My supportive mentor, who knew I was new with front-end, was always open to questions but also challenged me to think through my questions. The entire team was intelligent and thoughtful and pushed for high standards of quality.

My summer project was to revamp and improve the mortgages application flow for purchasing a home or refinancing a mortgage. For loans, NerdWallet connects users to lenders via a shopping experience where the users can compare quotes and shop for their best option. My project collects data from the users so that the shopping experience has competitive and personalized offers that users can shop for. I realized that my project had significant impact when I found out that the same layout, design, and user experience would not only be on mortgages but also on personal loans and student loans. My project was the first step of the initiative to provide users a consistent experience across the site no matter the product. The back-end structure uses a state machine library shared with the mobile team, and the front-end screens use shared React components so that engineering teams aren’t reinventing the wheel each time they want to ask users for their data. Because my project was all about persisting code and creating a foundation to drive greater efficiencies, iterate, and scale, I engaged in many discussions about engineering motivations, user pain points, and how to go about piecing existing parts together. My summer internship project was definitely a learning experience and extremely fulfilling. It also gave me insight to how NerdWallet thinks. We can be more efficient and effective at our jobs when we share knowledge and can have a single solution for multiple problems.

Team dinners 😋🎉

Working on my project, I got to meet so many different roles at the company. I worked with designers, copy editors, quality assurance, and product managers. I also joined the Women in Data and Engineering organization, where I learned from and conversed with talented women engineers. The university recruiter also assigned each intern two culture buddies who were close in age and were always down to hang out. I had a lot of fun at the intern events, which included a Giants game, bowling, escape room, and volunteering. The themed happy happy hours (there was a Costco themed happy hour, I kid you not) were unique and exciting with karaoke, raffles, donation drives, and challenges. For the Pride happy hour, three VPs competed in an epic drag lip-sync battle!

I also experienced a lot of about the software engineering and the culture at NerdWallet. There are tech talks, front-end meetings, back-end meetings, all-hands, deep dives, and Lunch & Learns! Doing front-end for the first time, I was introduced to pixel pushing, copy crushing, and internal dogfooding. Every two weeks, I did backlog grooming, spring planning, and a sprint retrospective with my team. NerdWallet is super collaborative and pushes their employees to learn, reflect, and grow. Even though it was a short three months, my summer taught me a lot about the tech industry and what a cooperative, motivating culture has to offer. I’m going to miss my team, the emojis in each sprint, all the home made baked goods around the office, the work…oh! and the matcha lattes. 🍵