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Intern Voice: My life as a Software Engineering Intern

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Hello! My name is CJ and I’m going to be a senior this year at Virginia Tech in Computer Science. I’ve been developing software since I was in 8th grade, so at this point in my life I’m sure that this is what I want to do. However, a question I wind up asking myself often is “Where do I want to go to do this?” Well, that’s what being an intern is supposed to help answer. As an intern you get a feel for the company culture and the people, while being able to ask a lot of questions.

There were a lot of reasons I wound up choosing Intel as my place to intern this summer. One of the biggest reasons was because I am really interested in working closely with hardware. I could think of nowhere better to do this than at Intel! As a large and solid company, and a leader in the industry, Intel was the perfect choice for me to get the most out of my internship experience. However, I didn’t know what to expect. In my previous internship, I wasn’t able to do much coding, and the code that I did write seemed like it wasn’t going to be used anywhere. So how does Intel differ? Hopefully as you read on, you will understand why I’ve been nothing but happy with my decision to be part of the Intel team.

First of all, to be more specific, my internship has been in the driver validation team for Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology software. This technology makes it easy to create RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) volumes. In other words, this makes it possible to combine more than one hard drive, and use the multiple drives as a way to either combine them into a single higher performance drive, or have them be identical to each other (as a backup in case one goes bad). It gets a lot more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea. As part of the validation team, we are responsible for making sure that the driver software doesn’t have any major bugs in it before it gets released. My job within this team is to create easy to use developers tools so that it’s easy to make tests, see what needs to be tested more, and improve the lives of the people who run the tests in general. Sounds useful, right? I thought so too.

I have always believed that in a way, the number of computers you manage is somewhat a symbol of your influence with the people around you. As an intern, I get to have three computers in my cube, and a total of 13 hard drives being used at a time. It really feels good to just have this much technology surrounding me at once. I have four monitors and three keyboards, and it really just feels like I’m in some sort of command center when I’m sitting at my cube, which is really awesome.

On two of the computers that I have, I develop some scripts that should automate running the tests. While running the tests, the scripts will also collect how much of the source code each tests cover. I get code coverage from all of the tests that I’m given, and then I use that information to show how important each of the tests are. While these tests are running, on my main computer I develop the tools that will be used by members of the team. I’ve created many tools so far, but most of them relate to the data from the tests that I collect on the other two computers. I use Visual Studio to develop all of the tools that I make, and it really makes things easier for me. A lot of the tools are user interfaces (UIs), and Visual Studio has some really great features that make this easy to do and can make the tools really powerful as well. I really enjoy coding because I love solving problems, and new problems are created by the world that can be solved by coding every day. That means there’s always something I can do to help the world! To me, it’s really nice to know that what I’ve been working on will be useful to everyone even after my internship is over. Even though I’ve only been here for a month, I feel like I’ve learned a ton, and I also feel that I’m making an impact here.

So all of this may sound like a lot, but I’m not just thrown into it and expected to just do it all alone. I have two really great mentors who help me a lot whenever I have a question or a problem that I can’t figure out, or if I just need to know how they would prefer for something to look. My two mentors, Sharon and Sangeeta, have really been around to make sure that I have everything that I need or the right contact for referencing. My bosses are really fun too, and they’re another part of what makes my job awesome. The other day our team had a mandatory paid day off, and then another day we got to go bowling on the clock for a teambuilding exercise!

Another really cool thing here has been the meetings. Of course, everyone has meetings they have to go to at any workplace, but I feel included in a lot of the ones that are here, and I actually regularly present what I’m working on. My managers and mentors make sure that everything is going well and I’m headed in the right direction. When looking for an internship, something that I didn’t think to consider was how much guidance I’ll be given. However, now that I can see how helpful it is to have guidance, I can honestly say that it’s something that should be taken into consideration, because it really helps a lot. So far since I’ve been here, I’ve had to learn C# (it’s not a language that I had learned before coming here), and also learn how to create Windows Forms applications, ADO .NET MVC applications, and work with databases in C#. Since so much of this has been new to me, my mentors have been able to point me to some really helpful materials so that I can learn how to do it all. I have been given the opportunity to transfer my skills and develop new ones, always learning from the people around me. So far I’ve been talking about all of the great things about work, but my internship so far has been a lot more than just working. There’s a lot to do outside of work that has really just made it an easy transition away from home. Intel does a great job of helping interns get together and socialize. Social networking has made it really easy to develop your niche and locate interns with similar interests. So far there has been a bunch of salt water tubing trips, a trip to the Grand Canyon, rock climbing/adventure trips, a trip to San Diego, and several other activities all planned by interns. I’ve also gotten to go wakeboarding with a few interns, and we also go to local restaurants to get food. There are just so many things to do that I’m having trouble mentioning it all! There’s never a dull moment at Intel’s Chandler, Arizona site.

software-thumb-600x459A view of the Pacific coast from our intern trip to San Diego

All in all, Intel has been an excellent place to work so far (both at and outside of work), and I’m sure that will continue through the rest of my internship. Hopefully all of this will give you an idea of what the life of a software intern is like here at Intel. To sum it up quickly, it’s really awesome, and I have no complaints. I hope this bit (lol) of information was useful!