When you finish your internship, take a moment to reflect on the impact of the experience.
Background: I worked as a software engineer intern at General Dynamics Land Systems (a branch of General Dynamics which is a global aerospace and defense company). The branch I work at focuses on land systems – mainly Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles.
During my internship, I was exposed to numerous software development tools and concepts. I worked with graphical user interfaces, Subversion, multi-threaded environments, code peer reviews, etc… During my work breaks, I also learned a lot just from speaking to other software engineers. By learning about some other projects in the software department, I was exposed to even more technologies and research within the field. For example, one of the projects I learned about dealt with the switch between RSA to elliptical curve cryptography. The RSA algorithm was my only knowledge of cryptography; I now know about the most advanced cryptography process that companies are transitioning to. With 4 months being away from school, I feel very comfortable with jumping back into my computer science courses.
Additionally, before this internship, I had never considered graduate school as a possibility. Advice I received from many engineers was to pursue my master’s degree immediately after I graduate. They regret doing the latter. I still have time to think about this option more, but better to think about it earlier than later.
I faced a lot of rejection from other companies prior to receiving an offer to work at GDLS, but all those rejections lead me to gain much more. GDLS was ten minutes away from my parent’s house, so I was able to spend the summer with my family and friends. My project assignments were exactly what I wanted: challenging yet doable. I made friends with many of the GDLS interns who also go to the University of Michigan.
During the past school year, I was panicking over the idea that software development may not be for me. I wasn’t sure if I was passionate about coding/computer science, and I certainly wasn’t sure if I was smart enough to pursue computer science as a career. Because of this internship, without a doubt in my mind, I know I am fully capable of becoming a software engineer and that I am passionate about this type of work.