This past summer I had the fortunate opportunity of gaining real-world experience as an intern. I interned at a company called Clever Devices. Clever Devices is an intelligent transportation systems company. They provide technological solution for all modes of public transportation, but many of their clients are Transit Authorities and deal primarily with buses.
Before I began working I didn’t know what to expect as it was my first internship in a corporate/business environment. In addition, I did not know what I would be doing; whether it be programming a lot or just fetching coffee. I did not know too much about Clever Devices as a company either. All I knew was they worked with buses, which didn’t seem too exciting at first because my thought was, “how much can you possibly do with buses.” Well turned out I was wrong.
The vast multitude of software applications and solutions the company provided were mind-blowing. They essentially have this “device” that sits on the bus called the IVN (Intelligent Vehicle Network) that could basically tell you everything you needed to know. It is able to diagnose problems with the bus, provide real-time feed back to the dispatch of it’s exact location. And all the buses can be seen on a CAD system. It looked as if you were watching buses in real-time on Google Maps. Their products didn’t end there either, they were endless is seemed. Everything from Automated People Counting (how many people get on/off bus at each stop), Fleet Management for when they’re in the garage, BusTime which was a web app and mobile app for the public to use to see real-time arrival times, and much more. I was blown away at how much technology and effort went into a bus public transportation system.
So after learning all about the company I was excited to start working. I was assigned to the engineering department to work for my manager. My manager was ironically an alumnus from Lafayette (boo!), but he was brilliant. I don’t think there was anything he didn’t know about programming and software development, which didn’t surprise me after he told me he had worked at Microsoft for 8 years previous before coming to Clever. I would ask him questions about anything just to hear what he had to say because more than likely I would learn something.
On the first day, he laid down the project he had planned for me. I was very taken back at first, because the project was much more robust than anything I expected to be assigned to do. He said the problem my project would solve would help them tremendously because it has set them back for quite some time. So not only was this project an important one, but it was to be done in C#, a .NET language I had never used before.
[I will not explain the project in details, as I just want to give a general experience reflection. I will explain it in another post.]
I was able to finish the project, and my manager was very impressed. He was very open with me and told me he has expected me to only finish about 20-30% of it over the course of the whole summer. It felt very rewarding to be recognized for the work I did. My manager even said he hoped I would consider coming back to Clever after graduation as he would hire me right away. So not only did I gain experience, but also a potential job. I am heavily considering it as I loved the work environment and the people who worked there.
My entire takeaway from my internship was nothing you do in school or class can teach you as much as real-world experience. I feel I learned more this past summer, than my three previous years in school. I can now see why so many companies look for students who have work experience. Without my internship experience, I do not know how I could possibly be prepared to step out into the real-world. It would be as if you were thrown into an ocean and you cannot swim. So, anyone who reads this, my advice to you is to work hard to get an internship early; Freshman, sophomore, juniors it doesn’t matter it is never too early. Because when you are applying for jobs senior year, companies will not care all that much about the project you did in CSE-109.