Insitu: Weeks Eight, Nine, and Ten

The last time I sat down to write about my internship, I was struggling through a lot of new concepts and information and trying to make sense of it all. Thankfully, that tide is beginning to turn.

Without going into too much detail, there exists an old system here that I’m modernizing for a new project. The general idea is the same, but because of the unique architecture of the new project, the implementation is completely different must be written from scratch.

The person who designed the old system has been around for a long time. He’s friendly and helpful, but he’s also busy and has more pressing concerns than my project. As I was beginning to work through the project, I would try to distill all of the things I didn’t understand into one question to answer them all, and then stop by his office to ask it. We’d talk for a while and then I’d go back to my notes and try to continue on my own.

What a difference a couple weeks makes. Now I feel like I have the system pretty well sorted out, so whenever I have a question for him it’s quick, as in: “I’m pretty syre that X does Y, which acts on R, to achieve Z. Is that right?” More often than not, he says “You got it,” and then I can continue on my way.

It’s become an excellent project to work on for a couple reasons: First, it’s a new thing for our team and what we’re working on, so I’ve had a chance to become a kind of authority on it. And second, because of what the application is designed to do (encryption, namely), it involves working with people up the chain of command at Insitu, even some with “director” in their title. This is another testament to the fact that Insitu treats their interns as normal employees. We’re not siloed away, working on projects that don’t matter. We’re thrown right into the mix with everyone else, and I’m all the better for it.

If there were one thing that defined the beginning of my internship, it was lack of confidence and fear of being exposed as an idiot, which a lot of people know as the Imposter syndrome.

“Can I keep up?” was the central question, and usually I felt like the answer was no. Now, a few weeks in, I’m confident that the answer is yes. I’m still the least experienced one on my team, of course, and the slowest programmer, and the one who understands the codebase and the system architecture the least, and the person who asks the most questions, and the one who can answer the fewest. But I know that those things will come with time. And as long as you’re on the right track, time is all it takes.

A guy I work with a lot summed it up nicely when he said: “You never pass anyone, but thankfully they hire other people after you.”