The intern experience: Reacting in a virtual environment

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – the internship experience here at Buildertrend is like no other. Our interns do real work and gain applicable skills they can use in the real world. Their voices are heard, and they play an integral role in the development of our cutting-edge tech.

This year worked differently than previous years due to COVID-19 as all work was done remotely. And although these software developing whizzes were only with us for a few weeks, the work they did and their contributions made a significant impact on the future of our product – more on that later.

For the inside scoop on how the program ran virtually and what projects were worked on, we talked to Buildertrend applications developers and internship team leads, Daric Teske and Vince Nguyen.

What was it like working with the interns this summer and what were some of the challenges of working in a virtual environment?

Teske: Working with the development interns is always a really rewarding experience. It’s so much fun to see them learn and grow as software developers over the course of the summer and to help prepare them for the real world. This summer was especially challenging given remote working and limited time, but the interns really rose to the challenge and blew away all our expectations.

Nguyen: It was fun! I’ve always enjoyed teaching, so it was a great opportunity to help run the program. This was my first time helping with the internship program. It came with its own set of new challenges since it had to be done completely online. If someone needed help, I couldn’t just walk over to their desk and talk them through a problem. We adapted and overall, it was great.

I’ve always learned best by teaching, and I felt like I learned a lot this summer that will directly translate back to my work for Buildertrend. The interns were always keeping me on my toes, asking all kinds of questions about problems I’ve never encountered, and working through those problems with them has made me a better developer and educator.

What big project did the interns get to work on this summer and how will their contributions help the product?

Teske: Our projects for this past summer focused on converting several pages to React as part of the React Migration effort. Altogether, we completed six pages and got a good start on another three including Change Orders, Lead Proposals and Surveys.

These contributions will really help the 2020 React Migration effort, allowing us to wrap up the project sooner than originally anticipated. Even though the summer interns were with us for a much shorter time than usual, the impact of their effort and hard work is going to be felt by the Engineering department and ultimately, the rest of the company.

Nguyen: The interns contributed to primarily to the React conversion for Buildertrend’s list pages. The changes are primarily frontend visual changes, but they had to learn how to make server-side changes in order to get them to work. The React conversions that have been ongoing this year have helped by creating a more consistent design to interact with throughout the application.

Since interns were some of the first people working on list page conversions, they were able to help identify problems early on that our architecture team helped resolve. They also helped Daric and I to understand what parts of our conversion process were confusing or difficult, which better prepared us to do our own page conversions or to help other developers with theirs.

Sounds like the interns made a huge impact. So, what are their thoughts on getting to make a difference and work on such a big project? Well … we’ll let them tell you.

Tracy Le, student at Iowa State: My favorite part about working on the React conversion was that I was able to really get a taste of what I enjoyed/disliked as a programmer. Prior to this summer, I was simply a student with no clear direction on what I wanted to work on after graduation. After this summer, I was able to get a better feel on my strengths and weaknesses and really pinpoint areas that I needed to focus on and improve.

It made me feel like I was making meaningful contributions to the company and not just “going through the motions” of being an intern. It felt nice to learn and grow more as a student as well as spend time using my newfound knowledge to positively impact the company!

Matthew Brandt, student at Iowa State: My favorite part of working on the React conversion was actually seeing the changes I was implementing. After struggling through lines of code, there is nothing better than seeing that the changes you made actually work. It was also cool to see side-by-side comparisons of what the old pages looked like versus the converted pages.

Working on a project that significantly impacts the product was a great feeling to have. I knew that changes I was making were important and that users would actually see a difference when the conversion is complete. It was also exciting, yet scary, to think about how, one day, thousands of people would be using code that I helped write.

And how has the software development internship prepared you for your future?

Le: This intern experience has helped me prepare for my future career because of the insightful advice and skills I have gained. Through talking with a lot of the full-time staff, I have gained valuable advice and steps that I should look into taking in the future. I have also come out with a better understanding of how production code looks (it looks nothing like student homework).

Brandt: This internship experience has provided me so much value in preparing for my future career. I got practice in frontend development, which is something I had very little experience in prior to this summer. I also got experience in what it is like working on such a large project. It was really cool to see how much a little over a dozen interns could accomplish.

A massive kudos and thank you to all our outstanding summer interns

We ❤️ our interns! We can’t say enough how much we appreciate them and all the hard work they did during their time here at Buildertrend. Thank you for joining us (virtually) this summer and for making such an impact on our product and company.

👏 A round of applause goes to:

Ben Alexander, Luke Bell, Matthew Brandt, Carlos Cerna, Jake Ediger, Dallas Evers, Jon Greazel, Willis Knox, Tracy Le, Anders Lie, Harrison Majerus, Taylor Olson, Bennett Ray, Rob Reinhard, Brett Santema, Cody Tomkins, Trent Woodhouse and Emileo Xiao

Building a better future together

At Buildertrend, we provide our interns with real-world experience and knowledge they can take with them as they continue their career. We strive to make an impact in the lives of our interns, and we can say with certainty that they don’t leave us without making an impact in ours.

We are grateful for the opportunity to teach the next generation of software developers and for the chance to learn from them in return. We look forward to the future as we continue to build better, together.

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