How We Onboard Interns
If you are reading this because you’re thinking about applying for an internship here or have already accepted an offer, thanks for considering us! There are a lot of unknowns when starting a new job. Every company is different. I interned at SEP twice before hiring on full-time, so hopefully I can address some of your questions or concerns with the following overview of what your summer here will be like. Whether you’re reading this because you are considering applying for an internship here or you’ve already accepted an offer, either way, thank you for considering spending your summer with us!
You’ll likely be asked to arrive here by 9:00am. Construction around here seems to never stop, so be prepared; there may be a road closure near the office. Some interns have found it it beneficial to come to the office before their first day. It resolves some of the unknowns prior to starting your internship. We’re spread across the top 3 floors of the Booth Tarkington Theater. Once you get here and sign in at the front desk on the 4th floor, you’ll likely be directed to a room where you’ll meet with Laura, who’s in charge of HR.
It’s possible you’ll be the only intern starting that day or you might be one of a handful. It just depends on other interns’ schedules. The paperwork will probably take around 45 minutes to complete. After that you’ll get an office tour, shown to your desk and introduced to your new team. (It’s just a cool phrase isn’t it? “Introduced to your new team…” There’s so much potential!). If you’re a Software Engineering Intern, there’s a chance you’ll sit down with you team and start pair programming right away. So be prepared for work to start out with a bang.
You’ll have lunch with either your manager and your team lead or perhaps the whole team on day one. But please keep in mind that any of this is subject to change because of client needs, team responsibilities and your manager’s schedule. In general though, this is what your first day will look like.
Your first week or two will likely be comprised exclusively of pair programming. Pair programming is the way we onboard even some of our most senior employees on any new project. Some teams make pair programming their default modus operandi, just for the purpose of knowledge sharing, bug count reduction and the many other positive results of pair programming. So don’t feel insulted or discouraged that you can’t grab a task off the backlog, put your headphones in and crank out features right away. Very few of us can do that coming onto a new project.
Sometime during the first week you will also be introduced to your mentor/guide. This is someone from outside your team you can ask questions of, and express any concerns you might have to. They can provide insight as to how best to get the most out of your internship and get you exposure to other projects going on in the company.
We do have a number of group activities for you to take part in. While some of these are mandatory, not all are. But, we do like to encourage participation in as many as you are able to attend.
SEP Summer Celebration
There are a few events/activities you’ll be a part of. One of them is the SEP Summer Celebration. While this has taken many forms in the past and changed names, the common theme is lunch and games for the whole company. The interns and other new-hires will plan and coordinate this event. You’ll be given a budget, and the rest is really up to you and your fellow new-hires. Have fun and be creative with this event. It’s a great time to meet other SEPeers and learn more about the company.
All interns are required to take part in a book club. The book will be industry related, such as The Pragmatic Programmer. It’s a great learning opportunity and time to discuss other new-hire’s projects. Someone with some years of experience in the industry will also take part in the book club. They might be an experienced new-hire, or it could be someone who’s been working at SEP for a couple years already; but this person will be able to provide helpful anecdotes and real life applications pertinent to what you’ll be reading about.
Monthly Intern Lunch
Every month the Intern Experience Committee will take all of the interns out for lunch (UX, SE, IT and Bizterns alike). The main purpose of this is to provide you with the opportunity to ask questions about your internship, the company and learn about your fellow interns’ experiences. It’s also a time you can provide feedback to the Intern Experience Committee with ideas for how to improve our intern program. We’re always open to new ideas and looking to evolve to meet student and industry needs.
One of the managers, Charles, started a paintball event a few years back. It has now evolved into something all the interns are invited to. It’s sure to be a fun time and a great team-building exercise with the exception of the SEPeers you’re shooting at ;). It’s offsite (obviously) and typically done on the weekend.
The 4 Kinds of Interns
Regardless of which internship role you’re in, we want you to get the experience of what it would be like to hire on with SEP full-time. So we don’t have coffee & doughnut runners. 😉
Software Engineering Interns
If you’re hired as an SE Intern your role will be nearly identical to any other SE new-hire (though the SE role itself can vary a lot). You’ll have a team of probably 2-6 developers (you’ll likely be aware of your team size and scope prior to coming, since we have a self selection process) and likely a member of the design team depending on the type of project. You’ll have daily standups and complete work in two week sprints.
As a Biztern you’ll be on the BizOps (Business Operations) team. This team is comprised of Mike (VP of Client Relations), Maddie (Business Operations Analyst), Jess (Data Analyst) and Emily (Client Engagement Coordinator). You’ll likely spend the first week shadowing Maddie and start your first project which will familiarize you with the various projects going on that summer.
As a Design Intern (UX, IX), you’ll be placed onto a team with another designer, doing user research, usability testing, ideation and conceptualization, and prototyping. You’ll get a variety of experiences on your project working with other roles as well – software engineers, testers, product managers, and project managers.
If you are hired on as an IT Intern you’ll be on a team of 4, handling various aspects of the business from casting vision, making decisions, engineering new solutions, maintaining the current infrastructure, and supporting internal users on various systems. Examples of technologies involved are networking gear, virtualization environments, cloud technologies, MFA and multiple OSes. These technologies will span areas such as IT operations, security, networking, disaster recovery and
There is a lot of thought put into our intern program. We really want to ensure a productive and enjoyable summer for all. The teams you are joining put effort into getting your workstations setup and preparing to onboard you onto the project. We’re always looking to improve the process so please also come with an eye as to how to make it better for the next round of interns next year. One of whom could be you! And if you come back for a second internship with us as an SE Intern or a Design Intern, know that it will likely feel drastically different than your first internship. Projects vary widely on multiple axes (team size, client size, team dynamics, tech stack, etc.).
Finally, here’s 3 tips to help you succeed in your internship: 1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions, 2) Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know, 3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! And of course have a good time.