In this tough economy, landing a good job is no easy feat especially if you are a student or recent graduate.
One of the proven ways to gain relevant knowledge, skills and experience, while establishing important connections in the field is doing an internship program. More and more students have.
“The expert in anything was once a beginner”
True to the quote, everyone starts as a novice and, over time, in the right settings with much practice, can become accomplished in their work field.
Here, at Infobest, we have many success stories that begin with the annual internship program. Most of our interns are now part of the Infobest family and have managed to grow and become team leaders and teachers for the next generation of interns.
Lavinia, one of our best Team Leaders, is in the company for 7 years and has agreed to share her story, work and experiences.
From your point of view, how important is an internship program for a student?
As a student it was/is compulsory to have a summer practice/internship every year. Summer practice can be a formality (just a signed piece of paper) or can take you from theory to practice and many times is so different from what happens in school that this first touch with reality can be challenging.
How was your internship experience?
From my first year of studies I tried to find an internship program that would help me to develop my knowledge and skills. At the beginning it was very hard to find something because many companies didn’t have an internship program.
In my second year of studies, I started looking for an internship from the beginning of the year. I was lucky to find a program that facilitate this and I went to the hardest interview of my life. It took me more than 1 hour to convince them that I need the chance to learn.
In my third year of studies things have changed dramatically, I had many opportunities. I entered the recruiting system of the big, renewed companies from Timisoara: I took all sorts of tests (programming, intelligence, psychology).
Between these tests I went to an interview to Infobest. It was a nice discussion, almost relaxing. Having the opportunity to talk directly to them I had the chance to explain them I had already some commitments (a course in Poland, working on my diploma project, etc.) and that I would prefer to work only 4h per day. I loved the fact they were flexible. In a couple of days, I received an answer and I accepted. Afterwards I received phone calls, emails from other companies but it was too late.
At the beginning, what was your job title at Infobest?
Since I was not an engineer I was hired as programmer and I worked on my own project with a mentor. This period in my work life really helped me to gain experience and exposure to the work force. I was really lucky to have a mentor that guided me.
When did you get promoted?
After my internship I was hired part-time (4 hours/day) and I changed the project and programming language. As my studies finished I started increasing the number of working hours. I worked on more projects and different languages, technologies.
At some point, based on my interest on new technologies and in particular for Android, I was asked to help the Android team, first only to solve a bug, then as a member of this team. Being the most experienced developer from the team, slowly, with help, I started to do team leading and management tasks (communication with all stakeholders, documentation, assigning tasks, etc.). I remember, once I had to write an email to give a bad news and I asked Gabi (my project manager) for help and he was very, very tired, but he stayed and explained me each change he did to my email. He spent half an hour for something he would have done in 5 minutes, but these moments were extremely important for me.
I can’t really say when I got promoted, because things went really smooth: I acquired more and more skills and more and more responsibilities.
What made you stay this long at the same company?
I think the most important thing was the culture. Even when I was stressed or I had personal problems, it was good to be at work (we laughed, we talked about different topics.)
Secondly, I liked variety and the fact I always learned new things. I worked with a lot of people and this was also great.
How can a student become a team leader?
I think the difficult question is what do you want to become (maybe a team leader or maybe an architect, etc). In order to find your path, you have to try as much as possible. The things that you like will become the things that you are good at and with the skills the job title will come as a recognition of your value.
“Do something today that your future self will thank you for”
What is your advice for the new generation, how can they achieve what you did?
It is not about achieving what I did, it is about finding your thing, your path. Try as many things as possible, ask for feedback to understand what makes you unique and where you have to work, you will grow and satisfaction will come. I think this the recipe for any great career.
What is your next goal (you want to have a bigger team or to have different project etc.)
I was always interested in artificial intelligence and I would love to contribute to this field. I would like to do a Phd in this field and to use skills I learned by working in industry. I think combining industry and academic world would really help me professionally.
Right now, I have one of the biggest teams in the company and we are still increasing. This is not only challenging, but a wonderful learning experience.