Though I am an intern, my job is to help keep the internet running. Not your typical grab-coffee-and-make-Xerox-copies type of internship responsibility, is it? I am the sixth member of the founding team for a successful software company. I am also a 23-year-old college student who eats week-old bagels everyday to save money. Who am I? I am a DevOps software intern at a startup. And you could become one, too.
Why DevOps Interns Matter
I work at the early-stage startup Blue Matador. It may not sound appealing, but it is in basements and garages like this where the internet as we know it was born, raised, and nurtured to become the force it is today. It is the time-honored rite and expectation for a startup tech company to be founded in a setting just like this.
But why intern at one of these startups? Talented computer science students can get a job practically anywhere, including big-name companies that give their employees freshly squeezed orange juice, heated toilet-seats, and all the energy drink they can stomach (we’re looking at you, Google and Facebook). There’s something better internship can offer than fancy perks like those. I’m talking about feeling valued at work, learning transferable skills and making a meaningful contribution to a project.
Reason #1: Depth of Experience
I challenge any software student at a large company to match the exposure I had to DevOps industry experience or best practices as an intern. I found through my peer conversations that many of the skills learned at other internship experiences are not easily transferable to full-time opportunities. Interns are often tasked with company-specific projects that may never see the light of day. Or they’re given fringe open-source projects that may never give them the broad experience necessary for making any real contribution in the CS field.
Interns at Blue Matador have the opportunity to learn the latest technologies available. Rather than working on an ancient PHP codebase, I get to work on everything from microservices written in Scala, real-time stream processing using Apache Storm, Frontends made in React, and our agent written in Google’s Go language (golang).
Reason #2: Value of Contributions
My contribution is valued and important at Blue Matador. In the few months since I began working here, I’ve worked with a broad range of technologies that touch every aspect of our production codebase. The contributions I made are not just discarded as so many other intern projects tend to be. Instead, my work was kept, reviewed, and released just like any other piece of production code written by the other two software engineers.
Reason #3: Broad Range of Duties
Developer? Or network operations person? How about both? Some of the most invaluable qualities for students to learn are only accessible through a startup. At Blue Matador I’ve learned all about entrepreneurship and startup funding, I actively assisted in interviewing prospective employees for positions, and I make crucial product-design decisions that will affect the direction of the company for years to come. Other interns may not even have those experiences until years after they graduate.
Reason #4: Job Satisfaction
I’ve also found that the same level of camaraderie and friendship doesn’t seem to exist at larger companies. At Blue Matador, I am involved in the lives of all of my coworkers. We spend time together outside of work and enjoy each other’s company. I’m not lost in a crowd of faces or just another intern to them. I work directly with the CEO, and he’s genuinely interested in who I am. We even joke around with each other — the intern and the CEO — because we know each other so well by now.
Startups are about growth: both of the company and their employees. I can definitely say that Blue Matador has given me the kickstart I need to continue working in the field when I graduate. I do not believe that a larger company could give as great an experience as I have received here.
Scott joined Blue Matador initially as a summer intern. Before that he worked as a systems administrator for BYU where he is currently finishing degrees in both computer science and physics. He is from Washington state, is an identical twin, and enjoys backpacking, cycling, and lunchtime bagels with blueberry cream cheese topping.