At university you know the stuff they’re teaching you must be important, but by the 3rd year you start to get the sneaking suspicion some of the assignments they’re setting you are just their way of messing with you. So I was amazed on the first day of my internship at Xero that the task I was set was VERY similar to an assignment I had just completed in my last trimester. Another shocking thing I’ve discovered is that accounting is actually really interesting! Not the actual accounting of course (don’t be ridiculous) but the programming behind it. It’s actually amazing!
The opportunity to get behind the scenes at Xero is thanks to the Summer of Code program. This matches students like me with IT companies in Wellington, New Zealand (the home of Xero HQ) where you do an internship over the summer break. So you get real life experience in the industry you aspire to become a part of. And you get paid for it!
I started at Xero in mid November and since then I’ve have been working on creating demo applications for the Xero API in several different programming languages, creating both a web application and desktop application in each. Work at Xero has been full of surprises. A lot of assumptions I had had about working in the “real world” are actually completely wrong and it’s taught me many invaluable life lessons.
For one, the love of cake and lollies are not forgotten at Xero, ever. I’ve also discovered (sadly) that creating a full multi green coloured interface is not a colour scheme my boss is appreciative of. Another crucial lesson I’ve learnt is that computers do not magically work better because you’re at work. When I crash my computer I spend the time it needs to restart, building a can-castle with bottle trimmings (we get free coke!). It’s becoming an architectural master piece complete with people and a moat.
Some assumptions have however, proven to be true. The dreaded work day early starts have unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your can/bottle-castle outlook) reinforced my V addiction – the caffeinated miracle drink that wakes me up. And the pure amazing brilliance of the gurus on the dev team I work with has surpassed my expectations. It’s insane how much they know about this stuff!
What’s also great about the The Summer of Code is the regular seminars (open to anyone in the IT industry). This series is being sponsored by Xero (as it happens) this year. The seminars are great get-togethers which widen your outlook , allowing you to see what companies are out there and what they do. I also get to see my friends who are also doing Summer of Code. Quite a quite a few of them are planning to stay on at the companies where they are interns, though I’m opting to do an honours year.
If you have a chance to do Summer of Code or there’s a similar program in your country or city – go for it!