At GameChanger, I have had the relatively unique opportunity to experience the company as both an intern and a full-time employee. I was a computer science major in college and interned at GC for two months the summer after my junior year. During my senior year, I made the decision to come back to GC after graduation, and have been working here full-time since July. Working full-time at GC has allowed me to re-evaluate last year’s internship and has given me new insights on interning in general.
I chose to intern over the summer before my senior year to get real-world experience with the concepts I had been learning in classes for the past three years. I viewed it as an opportunity to supplement what I had been learning in class, and was not thinking long-term, past graduation, as few college students do.
However, internships can serve as an extended evaluation period for both the employer and employee. Just as employers can use that time to decide whether you are a good fit for the company, interns can use the time to evaluate whether they see themselves there full-time. While interviews give a small and sometimes inaccurate glimpse of a company, an internship makes it possible to actually experience company culture and visualize yourself as a full-time employee. Spending two months working at a company allows you to make a more informed and confident decision about a job offer than the impression you get from an on-site interview.
Choosing the right company for an internship is a difficult and critical decision. Since internships can turn into full time offers, especially during the summer before your senior year, it is important to consider companies you can see yourself at long term. To find the right company, you need to make sure you are taking full advantage of your college’s available resources to search for jobs and internships. Most college’s have career centers that post job listings and calendars of upcoming events, like career fairs. These fairs are a great way of exposing yourself to many potential jobs at once and getting a feel of a company’s environment.
I found GameChanger at my college’s career fair, where I had the chance to ask questions and actually see the company’s product. I got a sense of the collaborative culture and real world applications of the product and was able to picture myself working here. I was enticed by being able to work first-hand with the product as an intern and make changes that would actually be implemented in production. Many companies I looked at and companies my friends interned at did a great job at mentoring and teaching, but never actually used interns’ code.
Location plays a huge factor as well. Relocating to a place you can stand for at most a summer puts you in a difficult position when weighing a full-time offer from the company, especially if you enjoyed your experience. I knew I could see myself in New York City long term, and that location would not be a deciding factor when weighing a full-time offer from GC.
Interning at GC made it obvious the company excels in mentorship and highly prioritizes improvement and growth. The internship exposed the opportunities to learn at GC and contribute more to the team than just code. Since joining full-time, I have had the opportunity to participate in design decisions and sprints, be a part of the product team’s decision-making process, and work on a wide range of projects in various parts of GC’s system.
Since internships are a great way to assess whether a company is right for a full-time position, it is important to prioritize getting accustomed to company flow as well as learning new computer science concepts. I had the opportunity to work closely with a mentor and my team during my internship, which gave me access to learning about professional life outside of pure programming.
Of course, my responsibilities are not the same as they were last summer. As expected, I am more accountable for the work I do as a full-time employee. That can mean checking up on errors caused by changes I make or staying at work a little longer to meet a deadline. I have been given more responsibility more quickly since I joined the team full-time. Starting as a full-time employee did not feel like picking up where I left off in my internship, mostly because of the increased scope of what I now work on.
One of the biggest changes is that I was added to the on-call schedule after becoming a full-time employee. Each engineering team has a different schedule, where the engineer currently on call is expected to respond to pages about critical system issues relating to his or her team’s scope at any time of day. Paging frequency is not high enough to interfere with daily life. However, dealing with pages has exposed me to various parts of our code base and deepened my understanding of how the system works as a whole. Addressing these critical issues and customer support cases has allowed me to touch parts of the code I otherwise would not have seen and given me a greater understanding of our product.
I have also had a chance to be a part of the hiring process this year. I have had the opportunity to interview a candidate and help with a new hire’s orientation process. This allows me to meet new employees more quickly and have a say in the company’s hiring plan.
Two months is a short time to get to know a company and find out how you want to grow at the business. As a full-time employee, I can set longer term goals and cater my employment experience towards where I want to be over the next years.
My internship at GameChanger gave me a taste of what full-time employment would be like at the company and helped inform my decision of where I wanted to work after college. I am grateful I interned at a place I could see myself working full time.