(Also read: Part 1 - A self directing internship - and how I learn to code again)
I asked myself: “Where do I want an internship, and how do I get it?”. I had almost completed my online foundational training program in Data Science and without thinking too much, I reached out to some people in my close network. I mentioned that I’m learning to code again and that I was open for an internship in an analytics team.
A previous colleague, who once upon a time was an “agile apprentice” in one of my early Scrum/XP teams, quickly connected me with the data science team under his wings at Nepa. Nepa is a company with an advanced marketing survey platform and analytics offer. The team leads were very friendly and open minded when we talked, but a bit worried that they wouldn’t be able to offer me a specific project or find tasks to work on as an intern.
I responded that I was happy to just get an opportunity to sit with their machine operations and model optimizations teams for 2 months . To observe and learn from them just by doing that. We would find out if and when I’d be able to contribute. We agreed to start within a month. They didn’t have to do any planning for me; just inform the team members, get me an account, and a laptop to borrow.
Thank you, Nepa for opening the door to me, to your expertise of marketing intelligence.
In my first post on this topic, I gave advice on how to start a new learning path, while in the middle of a full time job. My next piece of advice to any of you who want to change tracks in your professional life, and get an internship:
Tell everyone. An opportunity can come from unexpected places.
Plan for yourself! Don’t burden busy team leads, managers or team members with planning your internship. You plan you. Tell them what your plan is. It can be as simple as “I’ll just watch, listen, follow along and learn”
Accept interns or juniors yourself when you get the chance. Not only because it can be rewarding. They may also be door openers to your future self one day.
My internship at Nepa was rewarding in so many ways. I was scared as hell the day before I started, since I thought I might be in over my head. But after a few weeks, I suddenly found myself working on my “own” tasks. Troubleshooting a data error, and improving an export run script for instance. I had come to this point just by listening and observing when the team worked. Every day I observed, and asked questions. Sometimes the same question again and again until I started to understand the internal “machine” framework they used. In parallel with observing, I set up the environments as quickly as I could so I could follow along on my machine. And I participated in several sessions of pair and mob programming.
During these 8 weeks I realized I had woken up the coder and analyst in me for real. I was having a blast!
I’ve also been fascinated about some things that happen when it comes to learning tech, tools and frameworks. How the brain works, what happens with perspective and time, and integration of knowledge.
My third advice to you, who like me, might have caught the “coding bug”:
Start somewhere, with something and the rest will follow. Even when it feels impossible to get the time or the path seems very long. A nicer way to say “Move your butt and the rest will follow”
Spend time with people who code. Get a chair next to them. Wherever they are. If just for an hour. Listen, watch and learn what they do. Ask questions.
Get yourself an internship. By having a few weeks off from your normal work, by doing it part time for a little while, or by getting sponsors - privately or from your employer, like I did. Good employers see the benefits, loyalty and the business that likely comes from supporting you.
Get the environment to run on your machine.
I don’t know what’s next, maybe I’ll get an opportunity as a junior analyst. Maybe I’ll keep doing my previous job as scrum master, agile requirement specialist or something else for a little while. In data teams.
What I do know, is that I have left the safe Product Owner path behind me. I have taken a turn towards data and coding.
And I’m loving it!