My Internship as a Normal Developer

My first day at Datto was very telling of how the Summer would turn out.

internWhen I walked into the office, I was directed to a brightly colored room called “DattoU”, or Datto University. I sat among other interns looking at the impressive amount of equipment around the room, until an employee began our new-hire training.

After a little bit of a boilerplate company introduction, the CEO came into DattoU and began an open QA with the interns. The open QA was amazing, and I don’t think I would get the opportunity to ask the CEO of any other company questions on the first day. This was Datto though, and those kind of actions were reflected in every aspect of my internship. We were always treated as full-time employees here, from the local teams up to management.

The first week went a lot like the first day, although with a lot more learning about how the company operates and its technology stack. Throughout the week I was invited to “lunch and learns” where a presenter would introduce and present new, unfamiliar topics to all in attendance. Keeping with the equality motif, the amount of full-time employees at each was about the same if not more than the amount of interns.

One of the more interesting and presentations I attended was “Intro to Scrum”. In this presentation we were introduced to the core concepts of agile development, and how they were implemented using the Scrum framework. Other presentations included an introduction to ZFS, an analysis of security threats in code, and even an introduction to Hadoop!

Aside from the lunch and learns, a lot of my first week involved getting acquainted with the Datto codebase. I was put on the “Core Products” team where we worked on the SIRIS line, ALTO line, and the Datto NAS. Although fixing small issues was difficult at first, the support of other interns and my team really helped me adapt to the code and learn what I had to do. By the end of my second week, I was competent enough to start working on the ownCloud integration into the SIRIS line. I thought this was awesome, because when I finally took my own ticket, I alone was responsible for it. It was great being treated like a normal developer in my time here.

I think this reflects a key part of Datto culture: it doesn’t matter whose idea it is, but what the idea is.

Normal work on the Core Products team involved tracking down and fixing bugs, and developing new features on the front-end and back-end.

At first, I mostly worked in the front-end, because that’s where most of my previous experience was. However, in the coming weeks, I was pushed by the team to test my experience and take on tasks I initially was clueless about.

Toward the end of my internship, I felt like what I had done was valuable because I learned new things, not because I reinforced my existing skill set.

Something that really helped me advance my skills was “pair programming”, where two programmers will work on the same problem on the same screen. I learned a lot from the people I was working with, and I was happy to share my input with them. Some of the best code I produced was developed by pair programming with another intern.

After working on the Core Products team for a couple weeks, I was given the opportunity to work on a “moonshot” project. There were a couple options shown to the interns, and I chose “Implementing File Search on the SIRIS”. This project spoke to the UX part of me, because a huge part of this project would be implementing a clean UI. For the next few weeks, my time was split between normal work and the new project. I was assigned a mentor for the project, and I can remember a few heated afternoons where we would just brainstorm great ideas and implementations for this project. After many of those sessions, we decided on an implementation that would be attainable for a summer project.

What was great about writing the code for the project was that it was my code. I decided the best solution to many of the problems I faced, and when demo time came around, I was proud to show the work I had been doing.

Overall, I think the biggest takeaways from my internship will be the experience working in an effective Scrum team and working with such a complex codebase. I would not have gotten nearly as much from working at Datto if it wasn’t for the incredible culture. At Datto, everyone prides themselves on openness and equality, which is what makes the work so rewarding.

Blog by Datto intern Ryan Delaney, entering Senior year at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), majoring in Computer Science / Computer Systems Engineering


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