Micro-Internships: Student experience

At the end of each term, the Internship Office launches its Micro-internship Programme, featuring a wide range of short-term work experience placements.

To get a better insight of what a micro-internship can look like, read a fellow student's experience on their Penetration Testing (Cyber Security) - Automation Tool micro-internship with Modux. 

Picture of richard working on his micro-internship

I had an absolutely brilliant time, and learnt an awful lot. It was great to be able to do a micro-internship remotely, and I had a really awesome time. They are an incredibly friendly group of people, always willing to help answer any questions I had.

One of the particular highlights of the programme was the time when Freddie, Tom and Ben (three people of the company) all were watching my computer screen remotely and looking at my code, working through the issues and difficulties that I was having. Having three experienced programmers spend time with me, and help me understand where I was going wrong, was really wonderful. It was great to have their experience, and I really found that time really good.

As a whole, all the conversations I had within the company were wonderful. They are all really nice people, who were really good to work with. As well as talking about programming, they also cared about how I was finding it, and that I was enjoying the experience. They have a wonderful ethos, and really inspired me to continue with my working.

The project that they gave me to do was excellent as well. It was appropriately pitched to my previous experience, and allowed me to stretch myself as I tried to grapple with four new languages in one week! It was a well thought-out project, with clear objectives each day as to what was wanted to be achieved.

One of the nicest aspects was that this project was going to be useful to the company moving forward, and so it gave my project some meaning. This project wasn't just something to keep the intern happy - it was exploring a new area in which the company might be able to use going forward. It is nice to feel valued by the people that I did my internship on, and having such a useful project was lovely.

Another great experience I had was the presentation at the end. Being able to show the script I had been working on to not only the three programmers whom I had been working with, but the wider company, was excellent. I had never done a live presentation of a script before, and getting a chance to do that and get feedback on the presentation was really helpful. At the end, they did ask some great questions, and it was good to get a chance to practice.

After my presentation, I then heard from another person in the company describe the testing that he had been doing. I was warmly encouraged to ask questions on anything I didn't understand, and they happily explained what was happening. It gave me some insight into how they run their testing, and they provided some great resources which I could further explore in my free time after my micro-internship.

The wash-up section at the end of the week was another brilliant aspect of the internship. They were happy to answer any questions that I posed, and were able to provide some incredibly useful feedback as well, with good reasoning behind their feedback. This has helped me to improve my coding skills.

Running a virtual internship takes some skill, and Modux really pulled it off well. They had an excellent daily meeting in the morning where we discussed the plans of the day, giving me the direction I needed to produce useful work. At lunchtime, we would either have a short meeting, or I would summarise what I had done over online messaging. At the end of the day, we had another meeting, where I would summarise what I had done, and work out what problems I needed to solve.

Throughout the day I was invited to be on the group call. This was really nice as well, as I was able to listen into some of the conversations that they were having. This helped me to feel part of what was going on, despite the necessary separation due to Covid.

I was asked what the hardest part of the week was in the presentation, and I did flippantly say spending a morning with many mysterious error messages, and only realising it was because in the language I was programming, white space really mattered! Another hard part with virtual internships was the lack of actually being present in the office - I did miss the ability to be able to have the face-to-face contact. However, they were always happy to be disturbed, answered questions incredibly quickly, and were really nice about it.

In terms of what I learnt, I understood better how to make the best use of my time. Trying to achieve an ambitious project in five days is hard work. This time pressure taught me how to avoid rabbit holes - realising when something is not going to work easily, and when I had to move on and complete the other parts of my project. It was indeed pleasing that whilst working on anther part of the problem, I accidentally solved the part that I had been stuck on by serendipity!

There were wonderful aspects of a virtual internship, which I feel are worth highlighting. Working in your room on this provides you with great flexibility in terms of your style of working. I enjoyed working on the project in the early morning until 10am, and then was less productive between 10am and midday. This didn't matter, as I could still access all the resources I needed!  It was great to be able to not need to find accommodation, or get food in a different town. Being able to work on this project from home saved me a lot of time, which I ultimately poured back into the internship. It also makes you really focus on what tasks you are focussing on over the time period as well. In some respects, I am not sure I would have had time to do a normal micro-internship. The fact that it was a virtual internship allowed me the chance to do it, and I think it was a really wonderful experience. I do hope that virtual internships will be offered in the future, as I think they are a really useful experience, and does widen the people that can come and do internships.

Richard – Medicine, Worcester College