Happiness At Work (from the point of view of an intern/student)

Writing about this seems to have been a long time coming, but I think that from my point of view it is important to point out some things that I’ve realized have helped me to be very happy at work from both a cultural, employer side of things and also on my end.

Employer Side

I’ve had the great opportunity to work for some more early stage startups like Grifin and Tess, a larger public company like SharpSpring, and my current employer which I’d consider to be a more grown startup called Knack.

I’ve noticed similarities and differences throughout all of my experiences but I think that there are some things that each has done that can be replicated in other companies to help give better internship/junior experiences:

  • Training Courses Prior To Starting - A practice that gave interns access to three Udemy courses that had to be completed prior to joining. It was a cheap and good option to make sure that interns had some direct influence to the stack that was used.
  • First Push to Production on the First Day - Another practice that an employer had for interns was to make sure that they always had a list of smaller, basic tasks ready for interns to take on and (hopefully) push to production on the first day. This helped me feel productive from the first day, introduced me to their deployment and dev processes, and gave me some confidence.
  • Have someone who can review your code weekly for your intern project - Get a WIP PR up and have someone look at it throughout the scope of your intern project, in my experience it has helped me to make sure that best practices get drilled in from the beginning and not at the end.
  • Some sort of dev meeting where you can learn from one another - I find this cool because you get to learn what other engineers are interested in and helps you learn what sort of things matter to higher up engineers while you are young.

Intern Side

So I can preface this by making sure that I say that these are things that have made ME become more productive and that have helped me gain confidence.

  • Break down your day into deep work sessions if you can - So I break my day into two deep work sessions and have replicated this in my past three jobs. Right when I get in, and right after I eat lunch, these aren’t fixed to times but more so until I get hungry or feel like I’m not at 100%. At my current job, first session has been going for three hours in the morning and then the second one has gone for four hours. The next tip is key to making sure that the second deep work session goes well.
  • Learn how you take breaks - So that when you take a break it is not a chance for you to catch your breath but more so a way for you to get refreshed and ready to be productive again. For example, my “break” consists of me going outside and taking a walk, getting a cup of coffee, and replying and finishing text conversations. These things can be overlooked by others but are integral for my productiveness which has given me more confidence to do this.
  • Keep a document open with everything you don’t know - If there is something that is still unclear to you after your boss says it, put it in a document and research the heck out of it on break or when you get home. This helps so much because it is very possible that the term will come up again and you need to know it, small gaps in knowledge I’ve learned come up really quickly.
  • Work for a startup - You get to work with genius people you would normally not have access too and have the opportunity to become an integral part in the way they build their culture. Also the difference you make is usually heavier in impact and you feel like you’re actually contributing to something greater.

That’s it, short and sweet post, but I figure that this way I can at least publish more posts.