I had the opportunity to intern on the development team at PostBeyond for the winter of 2016 working as a backend engineer. With previous experience at large enterprises, I began this work term with the expectation that working at a startup would be different.
What I thought was “different” ended up being a massive understatement.
I wanted a change from a traditional office structure. And even though I expected many similarities to working in a traditional office environment, I learned so much about the importance of having a strong culture and how motivated employees can create a healthy high-performance working environment.
My internship at PostBeyond was full of technical challenges that I initially felt unprepared for. When I joined, there were three full-time engineers who were supporting the platform, and it was daunting to see the volume and quality of work that they had accomplished in a few short years.
In previous internships, I had a very quantifiable number of expectations and skills that I needed to learn to fulfill my job responsibilities, but my time at PostBeyond completely changed my understanding of what it means to be a software developer.
The development culture here required me to be open to learning as much as I can as quickly as possible. This often involved multiple highs and lows of feeling competent, but the support from my teammates and mentors was never in short supply. There were times where I thought I understood one single component of the platform, and then realized that actually, there were multiple technologies that this component depended on that I needed to understand as well. As a result, I came away from this experience with a much better realization of the need to constantly be learning, and never being satisfied with the knowledge I currently have.
With this understanding, I found myself eager to go to work every day to encounter and solve new challenges. At PostBeyond, I experienced a level of fulfillment in work that I didn’t know was possible.
I love learning, and as a result, I was naturally curious about the business as a whole and how each department worked. Luckily, the open culture at PostBeyond enabled me to engage with employees at every level and department to understand their roles, the challenges that they face daily, and the most fulfilling aspects of their job.
This knowledge was invaluable as a developer, since it allowed me to understand the impact that we had on each team and further motivated me to ensure that the work I was doing was of the highest quality. I felt that working here was truly a team effort, and I realize that I’m very lucky to have worked with such a tight-knit and talented team.
Even though this internship was the most technically challenging and busy term I had ever experienced, it was also filled with plenty of fun!
A large portion of the team are foosball fanatics, and while I initially wasn’t too interested in taking part, by the end of the term I was playing with them on a daily basis.
I initially found it strange to be having so much fun at work. But I started to understand that it was impractical to be constantly working for large chunks of time without any mental breaks. I began to see the benefits of taking my mind off a difficult task to approach the problem from a clearer perspective.
It also made it easier to get to know my work colleagues. We had multiple work outings that provided plenty of opportunities to bond as a team and I was surprised to learn how these outings provided a comfortable environment to speak more frankly about ways we could improve the company culture and ensure that everyone feels welcome.
This term was eye-opening, to say the least. After hearing countless internship horror stories, I count myself very lucky. I’m grateful that everybody I worked with at PostBeyond prided themselves on working towards a standard of excellence.