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Birdie voices: What I learnt as an intern at Birdie

November 22, 2022
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From Hyosun Lee, Software Engineer intern at Birdie

I joined Birdie as an intern software engineer in July and it has been amazing so far, so I wanted to share how my intern life was and what I have learned along the way.

The Birdie team in the London office

If you ask me to describe my first few weeks at Birdie, I’d have to say I was a symbol of imposter syndrome.

I graduated from a 16 week full stack development bootcamp and landed my first job here at Birdie. During the bootcamp, I was trained in a very fast-paced curriculum while having to digest multiple concepts in one day. After learning so much, I had this voice in my head saying, ‘It’s time to work on lots of tickets, time to show off your amazing skills and surprise everyone!”. But as you would expect, there was slim chance an intern who just started this month would smash all blockers, save all of the struggling seniors and be the hero. I was obsessed with the idea that I needed to make huge achievements or show people that I am an extremely capable person at work.

Of course, my hero fantasy didn’t happen. I spent my initial days working on through my onboarding plan. It wasn’t exactly ‘cracking-things-and-being-super-cool’ Hyosun but I was learning! Naturally, though, I started worrying. What if I am just a useless intern? What if I don’t meet their expectations at all? Shouldn’t I already know about these things? I decided to be honest and talk about this to my line manager. Right there, he gave me a very clear answer:

He said that as an intern, my job is ‘Learning’. Birdie expects me to learn from the experiences here and to grow. He said that I was following the onboarding process very well, showing a great attitude by being eager to learn and trying to catch up with the basic knowledge and tools we use. Most importantly, he encouraged me to keep sharing thoughts like this and asking questions and feedback. He told me to keep going and suggested documenting my learning journey so that I can have a sense of achievement from those visual goals.

It has been 5 months since then. Of course, from time to time, I want to challenge if I am going the right way or not but I don’t worry too much anymore as it motivates me to be a better version of myself. I have very supportive, open-minded squad members telling me ‘we got your back!’ and having a line manager who is willing to spend his time with me is incredibly helpful to resolve any concerns I have.

In Birdie, you can have lots of great opportunities to use for your growth. I took advantage of some of these cases during my internship and learned many things from them including what attitude I need to have as I grow.

Since I joined Birdie, I was assigned a tech mentor. We have weekly sessions every Thursday for an hour. We cover some concepts that I don’t understand or useful stacks for work. We explore them on our codebase or practice together by making some games.

The game I built with my mentor

Every session is very informative and has lots of things to learn but one of the best parts I like is at the end of every project, we talk through what went well and what can be better. This is not only about the projects but also about mentoring as well. Even though he is a senior and my mentor, he always asks for feedback and tries to find a way to be a better engineer and a better mentor.

As another example, I was able to work with another squad for a week in the summertime. It was an interesting week for me because how they work and what they are working on was slightly different from our squad. The part that I want to mention is their ‘book club’ session. It is a weekly session to discuss and share your thoughts about certain topics that have been prepared a few days before such as a youtube video, an article, a book or some documents. The session is quite casual and everyone can freely share their opinions. I had a chance to attend once while I was working with Bills and I really enjoyed it! It was a valuable time to learn something new and to see how senior developers bring newness to their work and try to have dynamic insights.

Lastly, there is a session called ‘Lunch & Learn’. Similarly, with the book club in the previous squad I mentioned, it is quite a casual atmosphere to share something that you are interested in or something new that you learned. The topics can be anything. Sometimes it is about a new interesting library, sometimes it is about design practices and sometimes it is about cultural differences. Having this session with various topics during lunchtime can be a short learning opportunity and a good stress refresher from work!

We have so many unplugged communities in Birdie including off_nerds, off_music, off_en_lang, jr_devs etc. My first community channel was women_in_tech. I still remember the feeling from my first day. I was looking around the channel before joining and saw that they were already welcoming me! It made me feel like I was already in the nest.

At 4pm on Friday every week, we have an hour weekly retro meeting and it starts with introducing and welcoming new Birdies. New Birdies introduce themselves with some uncanny facts about themselves and sometimes it is really funny which makes it easier for other Birdies to remember who you are. I was also welcomed so much at my first weekly retro meeting. A hundred people welcomed me like a family member. I felt like a celebrity.

Birdie has such a lovely company culture and atmosphere. I’ve been met with such kindness during my internship journey. Everyone at Birdie has always been so keen to help me, give advice and help me to grow which I am so grateful for. Especially my squad members! They have given me so much support and helped me to feel empowered. Thanks to my squad, I was able to overcome my fears and stop being afraid to get involved and be proactive. It would have been much more difficult to settle down if they were not there.

This has been my intern life so far, I hope this shows what working at Birdie as an intern actually looks like.

I started my time here at Birdie with a lot of self-doubts but after 5 months, I think I’ve grown up so much already. I can’t wait to grow up more and find out what the next chapters have in store for me.

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