Over the summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a Software Development Engineer at Amazon. As an international student, getting to work at a prestigious company from FAANG was definitely a goal I never thought I would be able to reach.
I was extremely nervous but also excited as I did not know what to expect. This was my first internship ever so it was also the first time I was going to be in a professional environment. College is great and all, but it never gives you the true experience of a working environment. We have all been there to some extent. A job/internship is very different from your experience at college or high-school.
In my experience, I have always tried to take something away from a situation, sometimes the hard way. So, at the end of my internship, I compiled a list of the most important lessons I learned over the summer. I’d like to share them with you.
- Start strong, end strong
- Feedback is everything
- You are responsible for your own career
- Have fun
Start Strong, End Strong
Consistency is the name of the game. This a saying that is passed around as a lesson for almost anything in life. The reality is that it is harder than it sounds.
Consistency, in my opinion, is an umbrella term.
Perseverance — One of the single greatest qualities we can have as humans, is perseverance. To face the odds no matter what, and continue to put in the effort to achieve something. Keep at it, and you will make progress to be proud of. Sure, some ideas may still crash and burn but you walk away with so much more. Thomas Edison said, “I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.”
Dive Deep — When going up against herculean tasks, you need to be prepared. Break your tasks into smaller components. Go into the storm of your tasks ready. Check your equipment and gear ( tools you need ), check the map ( How will you complete this task? / What are you looking for? ), and READ THE F****** MANUAL.
Consistency — Remember that new year’s resolution that died down after school reopened or was it during that deadline week? Join the club. It’s easy to be on top of your game at the start of something but that same energy, dedication dies down after a while. Be aware of this mistake as I myself have fallen victim more than I’d like to admit.
hm… I should change the title…“Start Strong, End Stronger”
Feedback is Everything
This is definitely an important one. Feedback is what drives us to be better at whatever we do. It is the fundamental on which the idea of competition exists. Competition in turn yields better output.
So, where is the catch?
Feedback is never nonverbal. It is a bias to think that no feedback means everything is a-okay. Feedback is your own responsibility to make sure that you receive it.
Don’t take feedback personally. Seek constructive criticism and accept it. I would sometimes make the mistake of feeling like I’m worthless because someone said, “This is wrong, we went over this.” When in reality, I was being guided to watch out for silly mistakes that can happen to anyone.
You are responsible for your own career
My first manager said, “You are responsible for your own career.” and the words have stuck with me ever since. I have thought long and hard about this one.
Focus on why you are doing what are you are doing. Take a minute to think about it. What is the outcome?
When working together, trust others, and make sure others can trust you. We should be able to deliver results blindly without going back and forth for cleanups. It gets better over time as we learn to catch and rectify ourselves if something goes wrong.
This one is simple…
Have fun. Take care of your health and well being and reach out when you need assistance. Over the summer, I was cooped up in my university dorm for 3 months working 8 hours a day remotely. So, believe me when I say that I wish I had done something more to keep my well being intact.
You simply cannot perform at the same level as you would when you are at your best mentally, physically, emotionally and any other “-allys” you can think of.
When I try to think about what has changed since my summer, I feel that I am definitely a more confident person. I know that when I wake up tomorrow, I will follow these learnings as not just a handbook for the “office life” but also as a form of self-discipline.
Why? Because f*** it that’s why. But also, because I never said that these learnings helped me grow as a professional. I said that these learnings helped me grow. Period.