Engineering internships at GoCardless
Last editedJan 20203 min read
GoCardless' engineering managers tell us about their approach to engineering internships.
Each year, our Product Development team in London welcomes engineering interns for three to six months. Interns join different sub-teams in Product Development: from Developer Enablement, who develop tools for other software engineers; to Connect, the team responsible for the APIs which allow external integrators to build software that integrates with GoCardless; or Risk & Anti Money Laundering (AML), who build the tools that verify our merchants and shield us against fraud.
We sat down with Engineering Managers, Hanna, Norberto, Mert, and Michael, to hear more about their approach to engineering internships at GoCardless.
What happens when an intern joins your team?
Michael - When an intern joins our team we try as much as possible to treat them like any other new employee. A great internship means the individual may well be joining GC full-time in the future!
Hanna - Our interns go through our regular internal onboarding process to learn more about the wider company. They meet with the Tech Lead to learn about how the team works, what the processes are, and what to expect from a usual day. The Engineering Manager then talks to them about their goals for the internship – what are the things they are interested in, what would they like to know more about, what experience do they have to date. Towards the end of the internship, they can go through a performance review process, similar to any other employees. This allows interns to see what the process looks like, what progress they’ve made and receive feedback from the team.
What does an intern do in your team and how do you support them day-to-day?
Mert - The internship starts with a lot of pairing and shadowing. We expect them to participate in project work with as much guidance as they want or need.
Norberto - The team’s Technical Lead works closely with them either supporting them themselves or through someone else in the team. Having the Tech Lead as a mentor helps:
Uncover issues early
Interns to advocate effectively for the resources and guidance they need
Interns feel included
Mentors develop their mentoring and leadership skills
What kind of assessments do interns do and how do we help them develop?
Michael - You have less time with an intern to focus on development, so we've found that focusing on three questions helps us make sure that the individual is learning and discovering the kind of things they like to do:
What did you learn?
What did you enjoy?
What did you not enjoy?
Hanna - Interns spend limited time at a company, usually three to six months. This means their goals need to be achievable within this time period and they need a lot of focus to achieve them. I provide frequent feedback on how they’re doing, and check in on their progress more often, or at predefined points in time. There’s also less pressure on them delivering work within the team and more on them achieving their goals and learning.
What did you learn from previous interns you’ve worked with?
Mert - The energy and passion interns bring to the team is immense and gives us the opportunity to look at our processes and ways of working from a completely different angle.
Norberto - Interns bring a fresh perspective and quite often a curious one to the table if you're willing to listen and pay attention. They can make you rethink processes because they bring a different set of assumptions (or lack of them). That's a strength one should leverage.
What advice would you give to someone looking to host internships?
Mert - Make sure they are working on something meaningful, or at least provide them with the opportunity to do so. Be aware of the impact you can make in their early career and help them grow while making sure you are getting the best out of them with the team.
Norberto - Pay your interns fairly and treat them like the engineers they are/want to become. Treat your intern as someone capable, put trust in them, and try to figure out as soon as possible what their comfort zone boundary is, and then, try to slowly push them out of it.
After speaking with our engineering managers, we wanted to know more about the experience of our Engineering interns of 2019.
For Buneme, the best part of the experience was being treated, respected and involved like any other member of the company in high impact projects. He explains “I was allowed to contribute to our projects and discussions. The fact that we were treated like regular workers must have been the most useful thing about my internship.”
Sebastian said: “I got to experience an entire quarter, from roadmap week to project retrospectives.''
Interns also enjoyed working closely with their teams and technical leads. Seb explains, “In the beginning, we discussed my goals for the internship and identified what I wanted to focus on, then we had weekly one-on-ones to discuss the projects and my progression, which was very valuable.” And Jace adds, “My manager is a very experienced engineer and great at giving people guidance.”
So, why should you apply for an internship in GoCardless’s Product Development team?
You’ll be part of a company that’s big enough for you to learn a lot but not so big that you can’t make an impact.
You get to the opportunity to work on core projects that go into production and learn from software engineers experienced in several programming languages, frameworks, tools and who want to see people learn and progress.