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I Would Have Never Learned this at School

By August 8, 2008 No Comments

DAXKO’s internship and co-op experiences are different than most.  You won’t make copies or coffee… well, for anyone except yourself.  You won’t be sitting on the sidelines twiddling your thumbs and counting the days until semester’s end.  You’ll actually be in the game… and you’ll be expected to contribute.  Here’s the ‘unsolicited’ experience of one of our favorite software engineering co-ops.  Good luck, Shane!

Two years ago, I sat nervously across the interview table explaining how I loved working with computers and would love to work at DAXKO. At that time, I didn’t realize just how much I would love my work at DAXKO. Neither did I imagine how great of a learning experience it would actually be. I’ve been at DAXKO and college for the same number of semesters, and I’ve discovered some invaluable lessons here that I don’t think I would have ever learned at college:

Sometimes you have to work with technology that your uncomfortable with.  Eventually, you’ll become comfortable with it.
Spring, Hibernate, Java, JasperReports, Ext, JSP. These are technologies that I knew nothing about when I first stepped through the doors of DAXKO. They are also technologies that play an integral role in how DAXKO’s newest product works. (Yes I, a co-op, was working on DAXKO’s latest and greatest.) I had no clue where to start, but I was here and I had to dive in somewhere, so I learned. Over time, what started as uncomfortable became comfortable. I’d even go as far to say that I’ve become more comfortable working with technologies that I’m uncomfortable with – if that makes any sense.

You don’t have to understand every single piece of the software to be able to work on it.
On all my school projects, I knew what every line of every function of every class did. My projects were small, understandable, and I felt comfortable working with them. When I got to DAXKO and took one look at the code base, I was… well, overwhelmed. Despite feeling lost, I jumped in.  And with the help of my peers, I was able to put my fears aside and start making a real impact.

Unlike in class, when someone asks you to solve a problem, it’s because they don’t know how to solve it.
School can spoil you. Not only does the teacher already know the answer, but so do the 18 other people in your class who are working on the same problem. You always have a fall back – just in case you can’t figure it out, there’s someone that can help you.

After a short time at DAXKO, I was given a list of issues to solve.  Some of them proved to be difficult (in my mind, even impossible) to solve, and it dawned on me that I couldn’t just give up and ask the teacher or a classmate. I realized that the only reason anyone would ask you to figure something out is if they didn’t already know how.  School is just a funny exception. After that sunk in, I began to think much harder and more creatively about the issues I was facing.  And what do you know… they turned out to be not so impossible after all.

Software is important to a lot of people’s lives.
When I was in high school, computer programming was a hobby of mine. Because it was something I did for fun, I spent my time making things I liked – websites and games, for example. I worked on what I wanted to when I wanted to, and no one really wanted or needed anything I was making, so I wasn’t in a rush. After programming so many websites, games, and school projects, it took me by suprise when I realized just how important DAXKO’s software is to our customers.  Soon after, I discovered that…

Making meaningful software feels good.
As fun as projects like command line blackjack and recursive factorial multipiers are, they just don’t feel all that important. Even my very first (and relatively small) contribution at DAXKO gave me a greater sense of accomplishment than entire projects had in the past. Knowing that the CEO of a multi-million dollar organization will someday look at my work is quite exhilarating. Also, solving the issues of our customers is inspiring because you’re helping real people solve real problems.

All in all, working at DAXKO has been an amazing experience in so many ways!

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