Internships are an expectation in the tech industry. Many companies say industrial experience as an intern can be more important than the degree itself. Find out what our intern Alex thinks
Internships are an expectation in the tech industry. Many companies say industrial experience as an intern can be more important than the degree itself.
Avoiding being a code monkey
Before joining HeX Productions, one of my greatest fears about work was being a “code monkey”. This is somebody who codes the same things, day in and day out. There’s no real variation or creativity in their work.
This type of role suits some people, but as a creative person, these types of roles don’t fit me. That said, so many of the available internships for students are exactly this. Even worse, some internships are available where your sole responsibility is to simply write documentation all day.
Internships have a range of advantages. One is that they should provide the opportunity to learn and develop a range of skills. Somebody that writes the same documentation every day will not learn or develop the same scope of skills.
My reasons for joining HeX’s intern scheme
When I stumbled across HeX Productions, I was instantly taken by the focus on accessibility. My research during university has been focused on HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). Accessibility is a large focus in this area of research.
One example is a “smart ball” that I developed. The ball was developed to be accessible to users and to gamify the recovery process. This provides positive reinforcement and a sense of achievement by saving a points total for successful catches and throws.
I also spent last summer at the University of Twente in The Netherlands, where I worked on programming robots to assist autistic children. Due to my past experiences, I am well aware of the accessibility problems that people face in their daily life; this was a major motivation in joining HeX Productions as an intern.
The experience has been fantastic. On the first day, we were introduced to the wonderful team and given a tour of the fantastic space, before being taken to a lovely introductory meal. The entire team is incredibly approachable, and the work environment and culture is brilliant.
HeX Productions has provided me with state of the art programs including the Adobe Creative Cloud and MAMP PRO, as well as fantastic and up-to-date technology. This makes sure that I have no technical limitations when developing new websites.
Furthermore, HeX Productions use Agile methodologies. We work in two-week “scrums”, and this has given me a wonderful opportunity to practice what I have learnt in university. It also provides the opportunity to learn about successful project management. This is a vital skill that I will be able to apply to future projects and teamwork activities.
What I want to achieve
Since joining, the accessibility message has only become clearer and clearer. I’ve learnt a range of things that I would have never considered before. One example is the importance of using the correct headers for screen-readers. Another is making sure that the colour palettes used within websites are appropriate for those with autism. I hope that I continue to learn about accessible design.
Common design features used everywhere, such as metaphors, are inaccessible. Metaphors are often glyphs or icons, such as a bin to signify deleting an item. They can often be ambiguous, making them inaccessible. I hope that I continue to learn more about design considerations, primarily because technology should be accessible to everybody. It’s concerning to know that such a vast quantity of common websites and apps have so many inaccessible design considerations.
Secondly (and perhaps obviously), I want to improve my skills and become a better software developer. I’ve had successful projects during my degree and free time, but nothing can replicate the experience and skills gained from working in the industry. As an intern, I’d like to improve my skills in software architecture and requirements elicitation.
Thirdly, I’m incredibly motivated to develop the new website for Accessibility Nottingham! I love web development as it offers the perfect balance between programming and creativity, and I really want to apply my experience and skills in order to create a beautiful and accessible website. Another important factor is enjoyment. I have always believed that it’s incredibly important to enjoy what you do.