Every year at ReadyTalk, we bring on a few interns for the summer to be a part of engineering. This is typically a couple software engineering interns and a QA engineer intern, and we've generally had them focus on individual projects or even help with ancillary work that will benefit our engineering team in the long run. This year, we decided to try something new. I wrote in the past about our new intern efforts and I wanted to follow-up and reflect on how things went.
We came into summer thinking, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we had enough interns to form a scrum team and really give them a taste of what it will be like as a new engineer joining an agile development team?" so we did exactly that. We were fortunate enough to have a great selection of interns to interview and came away from that process with 5 individuals that we wanted to bring on for the summer. We chose individuals with varying CS interests and from all the major Colorado universities. One was a grad student, one had just finished his freshman year, and the rest fell somewhere in between in terms of school experience.
From the first week through their final all company demo, these interns exceeded expectations. They were given a product idea, some foundation code to build on, a couple of very involved product owners, a dedicated scrum master, a mentor team to provide technical guidance and a lot of freedom. And what they delivered was absolutely amazing.
Within the first week, they were acting like a team. It probably helped that they were surrounded by other scrum teams who were leading by example, but these individuals really grasped onto the idea of scrum and agile very quickly and ran with it. They understood the basic principles of agile and scrum after we trained them on it, and they asked lots of questions along the way.
Last week, the intern team demo'd to the entire company. The feedback from everyone was amazing and the potential of a team of talented and intelligent individuals given the right tools and the proper trust was demonstrated. This was proof of the saying that given enough trust, a team of individuals can reach their full capacity. This was definitely a learning experience for us as well, and the interns gave us some great feedback that will help us shape this program into something even better next year. So my question is this…how have you structured your intern program and has it been successful for both the company and the interns?
Jason Collins (aka JC) is the VP of Engineering at ReadyTalk and the self-appointed Chief Happiness Officer. He’s been either writing code or managing engineers for nearly 15 years and has a passion for technology and agile development practices. The happiness of the engineering team is his top priority and he can usually be found wearing a ReadyTalk cape and the infamous “idea helmet” around the office to help keep people entertained. When he’s not hanging out with his work family, he’s at home with his wife and four boys doing all sorts of geeky things, like playing video games and watching campy Sci-Fi and Action flicks.