Putting theory into practice: an intern reflects
In today’s post, we hear from Rafael Daetwyler on his experience as a Backend Engineering Intern.
As I write this blog post, my five-month internship at GetYourGuide is coming to an end. It was an exciting time during which I learned a lot. But let’s rewind and see how it all began…
Becoming a GetYourGuide Intern
I finished my Bachelor’s degree at ETH Zürich last summer and wanted to gain some work experience before returning back to university for my Master’s. Since GetYourGuide is a mid-sized company founded by ETH alumni, it caught my eye early-on when I was looking for companies where I could develop my skills as a software engineer. I sent out my application in August and received feedback very quickly. The recruiting process consisted of two interviews and a take-home assignment, which I completed before I went to work abroad for three months in September. Luckily, I was accepted, and everything was settled when I started at GetYourGuide in January.
I joined as a Backend Engineering Intern in the FinTech team, which is responsible for all inbound and outbound payments. There was a lot of information to absorb in the first few days. From day one, I was considered a member of the team and attended all meetings and planning sessions. Coming straight from a technical university, all the business processes and structures were quite foreign to me. My technical skills were also challenged since the tools and tasks were much more applied than I was used to in university. I may have touched on git before, but suddenly I was confronted with branching, rebasing, and reverting. And who would have thought that memory consumption could be an issue with such a high-level language as PHP? I certainly didn’t. During this time, I was really thankful I was assigned a buddy who supported me and answered all my questions, no matter how stupid they seemed. In retrospect, I think that this combination of active participation and having a buddy helped me to become productive quickly. The hands-on skills I learned also greatly complimented the theoretical education I had from university.
Life as a GetYourGuide Intern
When I started, I was assigned the task of migrating an internal legacy portal that was used by our Finance team to a new, slim framework. This was a great way to familiarize myself with GetYourGuide’s codebase. However, it wasn’t a project with large customer impact. After working on it for a while, I asked my manager during one of our bi-weekly one-on-one meetings whether it would be possible for me to also contribute to some customer-oriented projects. It turned out that he was thankful for my feedback, and I was welcome to pick other tasks as well. After that, I regularly contributed to more exciting projects and was able to tackle smaller tickets on my own and larger tickets through pair-programming. In general, I rarely had the feeling of being an intern, but rather a fully-fledged team member who could talk to his peers as an equal. This is due in large part to the great culture GetYourGuide maintains. Their five core values: commitment, clarity, learning, passion, and positivity, are really put into practice. I perceived the communication to always be open and honest, but still benevolent. The people are passionate about what they do and eager to learn new things. This atmosphere is very contagious and leads to an overall great working environment.
Learnings as a GetYourGuide Intern
Now that I’m leaving, I have mixed feelings. For one, I’m looking forward to being a student again and having all the doors open. On the other hand, I’m going to miss the great atmosphere, my co-workers, working on a product, and being able to see my impact.
I learned a lot during my time at GetYourGuide. I improved on my software-engineering skills like using git, applying design patterns, and reviewing code. Additionally, I received interesting insight into how a business works. And, lastly, I learned what a great culture looks like: people helping each other, communicating openly, and giving and receiving feedback frequently. This kind of culture helps you grow personally and professionally and maintains a comfortable working atmosphere. I’m glad I took the opportunity to learn and contribute to this fast-growing company and I’m grateful for all I learned along the way.