Category Archives: The Intern Diaries

Intern Diaries: Summer Send-Off


A BIG thank-you to our summer interns for all of your contributions you’ve made to our products and team these past few months. You will be missed. Best of luck in your classes!

Reflections and Advice:

Shane: 1. The team is more important than the product. I’d rather be on an amazing, supportive team working on a boring project than work on an amazing project with an unappreciative team that doesn’t trust me. While I wasn’t sure what I was going to be working on this summer, I knew I was choosing a supportive team, and that has really differentiated my internship from a lot of my friends’ internships.  2. a. Look early. There is nothing wrong with starting the search in September. Most companies already have their listings up and you’ll look pretty on top of things when you’re applying in the Fall. In fact, when you get your internship in October or November, you don’t have to worry for the rest of the year, while your friends start stressing in February and March.

b. Figure out what you’re looking for. I like to think of internships like how I think of classes. You don’t sign up for any classes within your major. You pull out the registration book and think about what you’re interested in or what you need to learn more about. Similarly, Continue reading Intern Diaries: Summer Send-Off

The Intern Diaries: Madalyn [Part 2]

This is the fourth installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. Read the first and second post of the series or listen to this group’s first podcast.

Need to catch up? Read the first part of Madalyn’s 7 step guide to getting a tech internship here.

perfman_hr_job_interview STEP 4: TIME TO IMPRESS

You get that wonderful email, that inspiring phone call: Would you like to come in for an interview? Hooray! Then the nerves hit. Oh no, interview! This is all that’s between you and that internship now. Just remember, don’t freak out. You’ve already risen to the top of everyone at the career fair. Your resume was put on the top of that giant resume pile. The company already strongly believes they want YOU. Why do they think that? Your people skills impressed them at the career fair; they were awed by your dazzling resume; and they have reason to believe (based on your school projects and past experiences) that you’ve got what it takes to work on a team and write good, quality code. But they don’t want a code monkey. They want an engineer. Someone who is thoughtful, and thinks deeply about the code they design.

So you got the interview. The company has thrown the first pitch and you’re up to bat. Unfortunately, as it has been true for me in the past, whenever I feel I’ve bombed the interview I’ve been offered the job, and whenever I think I’ve nailed it I’ve been rejected. So there is no sure-fire way to tell if you’ve done Step 4 correctly when you walk out of that interview room. (Aside from them offering you the job right then and there—which almost never happens).

So you’ll probably be nervous. And guess what? So will the company. They’ll be nervous for the awkwardness that is meeting new people and not knowing what to expect. Your interviewer(s) will be worried about you not being a good fit and having to interview yet ANOTHER candidate. So instead of reading hundreds of tech interview books (which can help with brushing up on those technical questions), here’s what you do:

Keep in mind that your interviewers don’t care all that much if you get the (technical) answer to every question right. They want to find someone who has good team and collaboration skills. They want to hire someone who can think through problems and who doesn’t give up. This is what you have to show them. Think out-loud; talk through problems. Show them your strategies. Draw diagrams on the whiteboard if it helps you (as a visual person, I’m always doing this, both in and outside of interviews). What you’re doing is letting them know you are not just some “computer science student.” You are a problem-solver. And that’s what really matters.


You’re done with the interview, and now the stress is over. Make sure you email your interviewers and thank them all for their time. It’s most likely that your interview Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Madalyn [Part 2]

The Intern Diaries: Madalyn

This is the third installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. Read the first and second post of the series or listen to this group’s first podcast.


Hello! My name is Madalyn Coryea and I am in intern this summer at Riparian Data in Watertown, MA. I am heading into my senior year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a Computer Science major & Digital Art minor, and this is my second technical internship.

One of the best parts about having a computer science internship is that you get to experience working at a real company on a real team of software developers. At both of my internships I’ve been able to work at companies where I write real code that directly influences the product. This is something I especially look for when I apply for an internship. If you’re like me, and want to be a key player in “the big picture” at your company, make sure you get to know what you’ll be doing at your interviews. If you don’t ask, you won’t know what the company expects from its interns.

Key phrases to look out for are: “We have a summer project that we put the interns on,” or “We have an exciting program planned for you!” Usually this means that the company doesn’t have interns working with their real product. Sometimes these companies are just trying to establish relations with interns to make them full-time employees when they’re done with college. Other times, they are just trying to fill an “intern-quota” to make the company look better. Personally, I would feel like this is wasted time. I want to be treated like a developer, and I want to be a contributor to the software. To avoid getting stuck with a gimmicky internship, I usually want to hear, “We need developers to work on our product.” It’s worked out for me so far! And a great part about being a Computer Science intern is that we are in high demand. This is good news for us! It means we can have our selection of companies to work for. So there’s no reason to go to a boring company at an internship you think you’ll hate.

Once you have your internship, you will really learn if this is what you want to do. Is this the type of code you want to write? Is this the kind of software you want to develop? Do you like front-end or back-end or something else? With the Computer Science industry as huge as it is, there are so many areas where you can find yourself happy with your work. And since internships are a short-term commitment it’s okay to experiment with different types of jobs in software.

So how do you get this wonderful internship? Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Madalyn

The Intern Diaries: Shane – I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

When I chose Riparian Data, I had no idea what I was getting into. I showed up to my first day excited to organize filing cabinets and get print outs. I can get a mean cup of coffee or drop something off at the post office in under 2 minutes. Much to my dismay, there were no filing cabinets, and developers got their own coffee. I didn’t even realize we had a printer for the first four weeks. Instead the team expected me to write code. Not just any code, though, they wanted me to write actual code for the app. I realized they were a little confused and tried to explain to them that I was an intern. They just didn’t get it and kept trying to give me real work, as if they actually expected me to provide productive contributions.

After talking to a few friends, I realized how unlucky I was. One has to play with the company’s app all day everyday without ever seeing the code. Another does have to work on code, but, not to worry, it will never actually touch his company’s product (phew!). I need to acknowledge, though, that it could be so much worse. One friend has been tasked with creating an entire web application for his company. Not only must he code, but he must design and plan an application for actual use. Dreadful, I know.

Really, though, internships are pretty sweet. I get 2 months to check out a company and work with their full time devs on a real product. I’m expected to jump right in and learn as I go. I came in with zero iOS experience and was supposed to spend my first few days simply learning Objective C and Xcode (the IDE for Apple Apps). Over the past month, I’ve worked on everything from finding the best way of connecting the server to our database to localizing our app so it could potentially be translated into other languages.

For college kids like me, internships are like the 90-Day Money Back Guarantees of the working world. We get the chance to jump into a company and see it from the inside. It is about more than just getting to do “real world” code. It also gives us a glimpse into how companies really function and what type of company matches our personality. Some of my friends loved the idea of working at a huge company with products that play a part of our everyday life, so they went to Facebook or Google. A few others were interested in the startup culture, so they found tiny startups to work for.

With my friends working all over the place, I’ve been asking them about their experiences and teams. For this post, I decided to send out a little survey to get a little bit of a bigger picture on my friend’s internships. I received about 60 responses, mostly from Olin students. Here are the questions along with the most common answer:

  • What type of internship is it? Computer Engineering/Software
  • Given the chance, would you return to this company? Yes
  • On a scale from 1-10, how much responsibility are you given compared to a full-time employee? 7.317
  • Was this internship your first choice? Yes
  • What class are you in? 2015
  • How large is the company? 15-50 People or 1000+ People

I found a few interesting stats when I started to punch the numbers.

Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Shane – I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

The Intern Diaries: Alex

interns_alexThis is the first installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. This week Alex walks you through first impressions of his internship.

Hello, my name is Alex, and I am a sophomore at Oberlin College. I have been interning at SoftArtisans for a little over a month and am happy to report that my expectations have already been exceeded. I do real work, get to code, and have learned about the different parts of a software company.

Before arriving at SoftArtisans I didn’t have any warm and fuzzy feelings associated with offices. My dad works at a big law firm in Boston and over the years, my visits have shaped my perception of the work world. His office is a sterile and quiet place. The walls are white and the floors are so clean that I almost feel funny walking in with my sneakers on. However, after entering and sensing the atmosphere, it is evident shoes are not to be removed.

This leads me to why I love being at SoftArtisans. Sure it’s great to walk around barefoot and wear casual clothing, but more than that, it is all the other reasons that I feel comfortable at work.

I am a technical support intern and every day the Technical Services (TS) department does something called Stand-Up. During Stand-Up the team circles up and takes turns saying what they are working on. In addition to keeping the team organized, Stand-Up is a great opportunity to voice any concerns or ask for help.

In one of my first Stand-Ups, Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Alex

Summer 2013 Interns

Our favorite time of year is upon us. It’s summertime, and that means kayaking down the Charles, BBQ’s in the parking lot, and best of all summer interns. We’re handing over the blogging reins to this talented crew. Each week follow along as they give you an inside look at SoftArtisans and Riparian Data, life as an intern at a start up, and any other random musings that pop into their heads. They’ve already taken over with their podcast. Listen in on itunes!

Summer 2013 Interns

(Top row: Kyle, Justin, Daniel, Front row: Madalyn, Alex, Shane)

The questions:
1. Where do you go to school?
2. What do you study?
3. Give us a unique/random fact of your choosing.

The answers:


1. Olin College of Engineering.
2. Software Engineering and Applied Mathematics.
3. A random fact about me is that I am the music director of Olin’s premier a cappella group, the PowerChords.


1. Rochester Institute of Technology
2. Game Design
3. The average color of the universe is known as Cosmic Latte.  (If it was actually supposed to be about me, then… uh… on good days, I could see Canada from the house where I grew up?)


1. Gann Academy


1. I go to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
2. I study Computer Science and Digital Art.
3. The longest (documented) that a person has ever lived was to the age of 124 years.


1. Olin College of Engineering Continue reading Summer 2013 Interns

Truth in Tech Ep. 20: The Internship

So you want to be a programming intern? Take it from these all-star students who’ve maneuvered the tech waters to land hands-on programming internships. They give you the inside scoop on where to look, secret interview questions, and what it’s really like at a summer internship. Listen in on itunes.

Truth in Tech E20: The InternshipTech internships have been getting a lot of play in the news and pop culture lately, but what are they actually like? Our summer interns spill the deets.

Embedly Powered

Big Data for Dummies. Big Daddy for Geniuses.

[The following is a guest post from our partner company Riparian Data and new intern and data-ist Brennan Full. Happy to have you on board, Brennan!]

I first heard the words “big data” while listening to the radio at the gym, the host’s voice guiding me over the precipice of a “hill” on my humming elliptical.  The words immediately brought me back to my “Sandler period” where Big Daddy was watched on repeat until one had reached comedic enlightenment.  It wasn’t until the 3rd mention of “zettabytes” that I finally came around and realized that this conversation was concerning the mountains of data humans create every day.  Disappointed, I changed the station. Months later, looking for marketing opportunities I came across an opening at Riparian Data, a company that works with “big data”.   Again, the flashbacks returned; Scuba Steve, tripping people in Central Park, teaching Rob Schneider how to read… I have got to find a way to work there!

Before my interview I began researching the company, shocked to find out that I was horribly mistaken/illiterate and that Riparian Data in fact had nothing to do with the magnum opus of my childhood.  I sat for hours, researching, working desperately to understand what this emerging technological field was all about.  Hours passed and I was no closer to grasping NoSQL.  Dejected, I turned to my worn copy of Big Daddy.  As I slowly descended into a meditative state it hit me, BIG DATA AND BIG DADDY AREN’T COMPLETELY DISSIMILAR!

You see, much like shapeless masses of data, Sandler’s character lacks purpose, that is until someone comes around and gives the data/“daddy” meaning.  Big data is the collection and analysis of the information we’re all constantly generating as we text, tweet, buy things, use GPS, etc.  This incomprehensible mountain of information would lack significance if not for the tools brought about by big data.  This, ladies and gentlemen is how my warped mind came to understand what big data is all about.

Thanks for having me on board Riparian Daddy!

NOTES: I never went through a Sandler period, I never use an elliptical, and I’m fairly certain Rob Schneider was acting like he couldn’t read.

Thank You and Bidding Adieu!!

A big thank you to our talented crew of summer interns for forming an integral part of the team and providing valuable outside perspective about the company. We can’t thank you enough for the contributions you’ve made and the hours of hard work you’ve put in. Thank you for bringing your vibrant personalities, sparkling wit, intellect, and fresh insights to SoftArtisans and Riparian Data. We are going to miss you! Good luck in your studies during the Fall!

2012 Summer Interns: Thank you to Shane, Julian, Grace, Ingrid, and Josh!

The Intern Diaries: Ingrid

This is the third installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns try to give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. [For Part 1 and Part 2] This week Ingrid tackles what makes for great code. See what she’s discovered below.

I’ve been considering what defines well-designed code this summer both via literature and my own experiences. It’s a big question so I’ve been taking my time, and slowly amassing a list of the characteristics of awesome code. However, this past week, the list has become longer and clearer in my mind because of the introduction of three-person code reviews. At this point, I’ve decided that the seven characteristics of stellar code are:

  1. Simplicity: the code takes the least convoluted and shortest way to resolve the issue.
  2. Readability: the code is formatted so it isn’t a pain to read. For example, I can assert with confidence that the C# ? operator can be easily replaced with an if/else statement just for the readability factor.
  3. Flexibility: if a piece of code is repeated frequently, can it be made into a method? Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Ingrid