Tips for a Successful Internship at a Software Company

What is it like to intern at a software company in Austin, Texas? My name is Ryan O’Daniel and I’m currently an intern here at Journyx, where I have learned many things during my time and have had to adapt to this fast-paced environment. If you’re also in college and either already working in an internship, or considering your internship options, I wanted to compile some tips to help you to be more successful wherever you are, and give you a glimpse into what it’s like working at a software company in 2018.

Here are my seven tips for how to succeed and maximize efficiency in your internship:

1. Get to know your coworkers.

Make sure you introduce yourself to your coworkers, because you will need to rely on them for information and resources. Your coworkers are resources for you to bounce ideas off of, and as an intern your job is to help them to achieve their optimum performance. Make sure you know more than just their names, so you are creating a real bond with those around you. Go to company-hosted events where you can interact with coworkers outside the office. One of my coworkers even took me to a trivia night, which I now regularly attend.

These are people who will train you how to use different tools and become great friends. Your coworkers can also write good recommendations for you for future jobs – so it’s in your best interest to get to know them.

2. Ask questions

Always ask questions if you don’t understand something or need clarification on a project. This one is extremely important. I hear terms like ABM, ABS, LTV, CRM, CAC, ROI, and other company jargon than I have needed to politely ask “What does that mean?” Even if they just use a big word that you have never heard before, don’t be afraid of asking. Once, I had to ask my boss what “loquacious” meant, because I had never heard that word used before.

Every time I have asked someone to explain something, they are happy to explain and have never gotten upset at me for not knowing. Don’t assume you can just Google everything after a meeting or conversation, because different terms and concepts mean different things to different people and companies.

3. Take notes

I always travel around the office with a pad of paper and my Star Wars: The Last Jedi Porg pen so I can take notes when I’m at a meeting or just interacting with coworkers. It shows coworkers you care when they mention a TV show or movie and you take the extra time to make a note of that. Also, it shows your boss that you are listening and comprehending what they are telling you when you are taking thorough notes.

I’ve learned that when I’m in a meeting, I don’t have to take notes on the slideshow itself if it will be emailed out afterward. During my first few meetings, I was trying to write down everything the slideshow said and missed comments my boss was making, that I can’t go back and hear again. Instead, write down people’s questions about the presentation and the dialogue that certain slides bring up – that way, you don’t burn yourself out trying to keep pace with the slides.

4. Customize your work-space

Part of being successful is working in an environment where you feel good and not stressed. At a software company like Journyx, you spend most of your time at your work-space. I am a big fan of Star Wars, so my work-space has action figures from every episode. I also keep helpful info like a list of coworker’s extensions, an up-to-date list of all my projects that I can glance at, and a card highlighting our company’s values. I always have my notepad close by and even have some snacks in case I forget to eat a meal or need a pick-me-up during the day. Whether you have a shared work-space or an office, always make sure, when you are there, you feel less stressed and ready to perform your best.

5. Know the product

As an intern, you might not actively be involved in selling the product or service your company offers, but it is still important you know what your company does. Whether your project is researching potential prospects or just getting coworkers coffee, knowing what your company does will allow you to become more involved in the company. Here at Journyx, I use our product to help manage my projects and track my time, but knowing what our product does enables me to participate in conversations about how to best market it or optimize its features. Your company’s product is something you should take pride in, and knowing what you do will at the very least help you seem more informed when telling your peers about your internship.

6. Follow security procedure and guidelines

At Journyx, we must comply with numerous audits and security measures to make sure our clients’ data is safe. Software companies today must do everything they can to protect against hackers and data breaches, so make sure you read the policy manual that you signed when you began your internship.

When I first arrived, I was overwhelmed with all the different security protocols and needed constant reminder on what I could keep in my workspace, what needed to be shredded, and how to label my emails. I still need the occasional reminder to properly label my email or what files I can keep on my desktop. Writing your password somewhere obvious or labeling customer data incorrectly is serious enough for you to lose your internship.

7. Know how to best use your tools

Coming into Journyx, I didn’t know how to use tools like Dynamics 365, or all the ins and outs of Excel. I still need to look up how to use certain features even today. However, these tools have become essential for the job I do. I’ve had to learn to use a variety of tools like DiscoverOrg, LinkedIn, and many others that you can easily find yourself lost in. Once you learn how to use the tools given to you, your job will become easier than ever before.

There are many things I didn’t include in this list for how to be a successful intern, like trying your best, dressing nicely, showing up on time, and many more general things. I really enjoy being an intern at Journyx and hope I can continue working here for years to come. I enjoy the vibrant community of creative members who work here, and there is always loads of fun to be had. Journyx is a fantastic software company that is still breaking ground in the ever-changing marketplace in 2018.

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