The Guinea Pig Speaks - Skookum's Internship Program
Apr 30, 2012

Roughly six weeks ago or so, I arrived at Skookum Digital Works as its first-ever participant in the Official Internship Program. (There have been other interns before me, but they flew ad-hoc routes.)

As a former robotics engineer, my love of code was high, but my actual knowledge of HTML/CSS/JavaScript/allThingsWeb was rather low. Fortunately, the good folks at Skookum saw my potential and gave me a shot at pursuing my new-found passion, web development!

There are six major components to the Skookum Internship Program:

  1. Projects

    1. Internal

      • On this project, I didn't have to answer to any clients; instead, I worked with Josh, our Creative Director, to build something AWESOME. (And learn some skills on my own.)

      • Sometimes these projects are academic in nature, but they're all good opportunities to get some good learning in.

    2. Client-focused

      • These real, client-based projects, are what make Skookum tick. Clients want the best product they can get for their hard-earned money, and I got to help make them happen.
  2. Location

    1. Working at Trade & Tryon in Uptown Charlotte is pretty sweet.

    2. With a real office, too.

      • I didn't get stuck in a closet away from all the cool kids; I actually worked right alongside the rest of the Skookum team. I worked on the same teams looked at the same code and ate the same lunch as everyone else.
  3. Compensation

    1. Skookum's Internship program is a paid position—how often does that happen in other industries?
  4. Hours

    1. Just like the big kids, I got to work normal hours. In the web dev world, that's not necessarily 9-5, which is awesome. But it's full-time, not part-time, which means 40 hours/week of intense learning.
  5. Mentors

    1. Every member of the Skookum team was accessible to me. I think the original point of the mentors was to have one mentor per intern, but I'm pretty non-traditional and I made everyone my mentor. For me, asking everyone for help was a good way to get to know the team and learn as much as I possibly could. Skookumites come in a wide variety of flavors: we've got Ruby pros, sick PHP devs, Node.js champions, and jQuery gurus, to name a few. To not take advantage of the diversity would be a huge mistake.
  6. End-game

    1. The goal of the program is to transition interns into full-on (junior) developers. In some ways, it's like the longest interview ever. But it's also an amazing opportunity to get into the web development game, with a pretty low amount of risk for everyone.

    2. I'll be honest—I wasn't entirely sure that web development would be the right career for me when I started; it turns out I've been a closet web developer my whole life! The Skookum Internship program helped me find that out.

    3. It's with that notion that I'm thrilled and honored now to be Skookum's latest Junior Developer, hot off the presses.

All said and done, being an intern was crazy fun—I got to work with some really smart folks in hands-down the most relaxed and productive environment I've ever known. I'm shipping real code and making a real contribution to the team. Huzzah!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to building a better Internet.