Over the past 8 months, I’ve had two different internships. The first was a summer internship at Valve Corporation, in Bellevue, WA–a short commute from my native Seattle. The second was a small startup called CloudMine, which just finished its stint in the DreamIt Philadelphia Class of 2011.

At both, I was doing front-end web development, and at both I was the only development intern. At one, I was working mostly with PHP, the other mostly with JavaScript (aside from the usual markup languages, of course). At both, I learned a lot. And at both, I learned something.

Don’t be so shy.

And I’m not exactly talking about social shyness.

When I started at Valve, I felt incredibly under-qualified. (Of course I would feel this way–I had only graduated from high school three days before, and now I was working at a company which was notorious for only hiring out of industry.) While humility is good, my lack of confidence meant that at first I was afraid to bother anyone. The main person I was reporting to, Al, was an incredibly sweet and helpful person, but I was intimidated by him at first. I just didn’t want to bother him. I would only ask him a question after I had formulated it carefully in my head and also had spent a lot of time combing the internet for an answer. This tactic was not particularly effective when the problem was something specific to the products I was working on. My shyness, or lack of confidence, meant that I worked very slowly. When I learned that it was okay to “bother” Al, my work got a lot better and a lot faster. I took this new attitude to CloudMine, where it served me well over the semester. I was up and running much more quickly–which was good, because I’d spend as much time at CloudMine in a week as I did at Valve in a day. (Yay, semester internships.)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

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