The following article is part of a series of articles about our NerdWallet Summer Internship program. Crystal Wang 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!
DISCLAIMER: Described experiences may differ; nonetheless, prescribed advice will still apply, but with varied relevance.
This is particularly true if: you aren’t a Summer 2020 Software Engineering Intern on the Credit Cards Team from the University of Maryland, College Park; if your project doesn’t involve using GraphQL (implemented as “query0” at NerdWallet) to query the credit card pre-qualification service; if you don’t create a meme on how you built a React component to use said GraphQL data and made sure that it displayed exactly the same as the original component did; or if you never have to struggle with cookies, ever. Physical or electronic. 🍪
Disclaimers aside, here are the untold secrets to achieving complete mastery of the NerdWallet Internship. In all manner of ways.
- Don’t panic if you have no idea what GraphQL is, have only heard of React but never actually used it, or just haven’t done a lot of coding on the job in general. You’ll be supported throughout the journey by not just your mentor, but also countless other Nerds. Just be prepared to ask a lot of questions. And learn. A lot. Building mastery over the technical aspects takes time.
- Tip: If it helps, you can take notes in either your NerdWallet journal or NerdWallet notepad with your NerdWallet pen.
- Check your calendar daily; there will be all sorts of check-ins and chats. Once a few weeks pass, you’ll be pretty sure you’ve seen your mentor more times than you’ve seen the inside of a restaurant in 2020. The consistent meetings with not just your mentor but also your culture buddy, manager, fellow Nerdlings, and university recruiting team are all part of a great system to make sure you feel connected and involved.
- Make sure to have your notifications on so you don’t miss out on all types of Nerdling events! You’ll be able to chat with other interns whilst struggling with a seriously complicated paint-by-numbers kit, get completely decimated in a game of mafia, or try to make sense of the hints in Codenames.
- Note: If playing games or chatting about how absolutely frustrating the last episode of The Umbrella Academy was just isn’t your thing—don’t worry. There are plenty of other selections, from deep dives into other teams at NerdWallet, to 1:1’s with the CEO.
- When the opportunity arises, take your team on in a battle of scribbl.io, armed with newfound knowledge from the virtual offsite drawing lessons. If you’d rather not attempt to draw sea turtles, make time for team happy hours instead. You’ll learn about all the famous people you now have mutual friends with, and exactly which Eurovision performance was the best.
- Tip: Try mixing up a cocktail (or mocktail) with your NerdWallet cocktail kit. No idea how to make a drink? Refer to step 8.
- If you find yourself struggling to master social situations and often get caught in very long, awkward pauses that you can’t laugh your way out of, change your Zoom background. Express yourself, be it through an FFVII cutscene or dancing rainbow bears.
- Tip: If you already have a custom background, remove it so that people can see your room as is. You’ll find that other people do this often (whether knowingly or unknowingly), and might begin to wonder why someone seems to be working from within a shoe closet.
- Hone your wayfinding skills. If you typically get lost navigating through real life… you’ll probably also get lost navigating through the dozens upon dozens of Slack channels. This is normal. A map may or may not help, but relying on the trusty Ctrl + F combo, your mentor, and the NerdWallet wikipedia page might just get you to where you want to be. On the bright side, there will be a channel for just about anything (cats, dogs, butter-battling, etc).
- Note: The extensive emoji menu is no easier to navigate. Just search up exactly what you feel. :open_eye_crying_laughing:
- Put together multiple outfits solely consisting of NerdWallet swag. Keep them on rotation: one for commuting from the kitchen to your workroom, another for lounging, and another as your pajamas. Chilly? Try throwing on your NerdWallet jacket or NerdWallet sweatshirt.
- Acquire new skills, experiences, or other curiosities by attending the Annual Charity Auction. Need a custom ceramic juicer? Competitive crosswording lessons? Or guidance on how to forage? The auction has it all! Free experiences include: mixology lessons from the VP of Business , a quick Barre session, and jamming out to a fellow Nerd’s rendition of a T-Swizzle song.
- DO NOT assume that the Hackathon and the Activities Challenge are extreme, rise-and-grind endeavors with a team of Nerds that you may have only just met. Only one of these is true. Take the Hackathon as more of a chance to work on something different from your project and interact with other roles you normally wouldn’t get to work so closely with; there’s no need to pour in laborious amounts of effort.
- Tip: For the Activities Challenge, attend the twice weekly bootcamp (or yoga) classes to get your steps in.
- If you’re ever stuck trying to debug your code or suddenly start banging your head against the wall, try reaching out to your mentor or other Nerds! Feeling a bit anxious after setting up that meeting on Google calendar? Refer to step 5.
- Take time to wind down and relax. After all the grinding and reviewing and code-pushing and be sure to give yourself a brain break to avoid burning out.
- Tip: Wash up with your NerdWallet care package, set the mood with your NerdWallet candle, maybe even burrito yourself in your NerdWallet blanket…
- Bonus tip: Attending the weekly Mindfulness sessions may also help.
- Understand that the final farewell Zoom with your mentor and manager and team and culture buddy and and all the other people you’ve met along the way is going to be bittersweet… :sadtoko: But, it doesn’t have to be the end. Chances are, you’ll have formed enough inside jokes and plans for the distant future known as “post-corona” that you’re more than likely to keep those precious connections alive.
- Tip: To make sure those memories live on and the fun times aren’t forgotten, take as many photos as you can.
…And that’s the gong. Now, with all the power vested in you, go forth and conquer the NerdWallet Internship.