My experience this summer

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An internship diary by Adam Yeats. Adam took part in Dharmafly’s first summer internship, when three students joined us at the Lab for the Recently Possible to gain skills in developing experimental web applications. Some of their observations and reflections are posted in this blog.


September, 2012 – week 13

I first got a start in web development when I must have been 10 years old or so. I committed all the usual web design atrocities people joke about about these days, and I had several awful little websites littered across GeoCities. I went off and did other teenager-y sort of things and then a couple of years ago, I had a little epiphany and decided I wanted to come back to university and finish what I started.

I’m extremely glad that I did.

Coming back to university, learning web development and engaging with the Brighton web community has opened countless doors for me, and one such door opened for me when Prem kindly offered to take me on as an intern for the summer. This must have been quite a risk for him; I had a limited grasp of JavaScript that I had gained from my first year at university, so it was difficult to say where I was going to fit in the Dharmafly ‘ecosystem’. However, before too long, work for me and the other interns started to pile up.

Looking back 4 months, the difference between the programmer I was then and the programmer I am now is equivalent to night and day. Prem, as well as the other two interns Aaron and Chris, have been extremely patient with me when it comes to answering my very basic questions and before long, I started feeling more and more confident. Before the internship, I was feeling fairly sure that I wanted to work in UX or design. But I’ve changed my mind now.

Writing JavaScript with everyone intensively for 8 hours a day for 4 months has made me feel as if, given enough time, I had gained enough knowledge that I could conquer just about any project. Towards the end of the internship, I even felt confident to take on another language (Ruby), and I’ve already written one of the projects I’ve done for Dharmafly in it.

The overwhelming majority of the work I’ve done with Dharmafly has been with Node.js. I’ve been involved in some very cool stuff written using Node that I’m sure you’ll see for yourselves in the not-too-distant future. Those of you who have spoken to me will know that the time I’ve spent with Node.js this summer has made me extremely passionate about it. It’s a fantastic gateway for people that know JavaScript on the front-end to get started in back-end development, and although Node.js isn’t right for every project you might need to work on, I think its relevance will only increase in the future as the web moves further towards things that need to be done in real-time.

My advice to anyone who’s at university studying web development, or anyone who’s self-taught and is looking to get a start in the industry, is to get out and engage with your web community. Go to local meetups, hack days and conferences. Start getting involved with conversations with people on Twitter, you’ll find the overwhelming majority of people to be friendly, ego-free, and very willing to help out.

Finally, I’d recommend to do what I’ve done and see if there’s someone who’ll take you on over the summer holiday. I know this axiom tends to get tossed around a lot, but the experience you’ll gain really is invaluable. I’ve absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’ll end up owing my future career to Prem and my experience this summer.

So again, thanks to Prem and everyone at Dharmafly for having/putting up with me, and also my fellow interns Aaron and Chris who I’m sure, with their skills, will go on to do amazing things.

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