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Interning in the Tech department

You spend three years at university or go to college and graduate…and then what?

Time to hit the big bad world – It’s not always a walk in the park. I was fortunate enough to land an internship at TMW and what a year it has been.

It can be quite intimidating the first time walking into a professional business setting, but there’s no need to stress over it. Most of the people you’ll meet started in a similar position when they first entered the profession and so are used to dealing with the arrival of new interns.

Originally, I was provided with a schedule of activities for each of the various departments I would sit with, but not everything can be planned out exactly due to the nature of peoples work schedules. After a week or so it was decided that we go more with the flow, and I help out in different areas wherever I could.

At first I worked within the content management team, which involved me managing content across different websites. As simple as it seemed, this required a lot more effort than I had initially realised. The main challenge was learning to use a number of different CMS platforms effectively.

Soon after that, I moved to the QA (Quality Assurance) department. The QA team are in charge of spotting mistakes or defects in web pages, websites, web-apps and email builds in order to ensure the user experience is as expected across all targeted platforms and devices.

As an intern, there are days when there are lots of things to do, but it is a possibility that assignments will not be constantly coming in. There may be times when you have completed your assigned work and are awaiting further briefs. Sometimes it is also necessary to wait for other departments to finish their tasks before you can start your own, which was definitely the case for me when working within the Content and QA teams.

Changing mindsets

Moving on into the email department, I found myself doing something that I was more used to considering my background in development. Yet this was development with a twist; I had always been used to building web pages and websites with layouts based on modern HTML layout techniques, but building emails usually required using table-based layouts entirely.

At first, switching my mindset to using table layouts was a bit of a problem – reason being, they worked on screen but they also had to work on a variety of mobile devices. For anyone starting anew, this could be daunting but having colleagues that are more than willing to help and train you in the workflow that they practice helps you get to grips and eventually develop your own workflow.

I spent a lot of time with the email team. Christmas was approaching and unsurprisingly, every client had promotional Christmas emails to be sent out before the holiday season, so there was a high demand for an extra pair of hands.

However as this died down, I started the gradual transition into front-end development.

Moving into front-end

Front-end development was a whole new world entirely. There were things I knew were possible, but I soon realised the limitations of my knowledge in this area.

Understandably, projects of a larger scale weren’t offered to me right away, but I was involved with some of the more straightforward builds. I found even some of these projects had their ups and downs, especially some of the Facebook applications.

Some of our clients use a platform named Buddy Media – something I had never heard of before – to create Facebook Tab applications. Stating that the platform isn’t exactly developer-friendly would be an understatement but, through its challenges and with a lot of help, I got to grips with it and also learnt a lot about the jQuery library along the way.

Developing my own skills

Due to the fast-paced nature of the development lifecycle, finding a regular time when members of the front-end team can step away from their work can be tricky, especially when emergencies arise. That being said, self-development is vital and so, even when busy, members of the team have always tried to make time for me and answer any of my questions.

I’ve come to learn a lot of jQuery throughout this year, as well as building on my HTML and CSS knowledge. So much so that I am now able to take on a lot more project responsibility, with much less help and overseeing. Like all devs, I’ve been starting out with the simpler things, but I have no doubt that eventually, I’ll be a pro!