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From Students to Engineers: Experience Built to Last

Over the course of their 12-week program, our interns were given a glimpse of life at AppDynamics. Entering the program wide-eyed and eager to learn beyond expectations, they were exposed to our culture of constant improvement and process optimization. From learning to write “cleaner” code to preparing presentations with our executive staff, their time spent at AppDynamics has given them real-world experience that will better prepare them for their post-education careers.

As this summer’s internship program at AppDynamics concludes, we asked our participants to reflect upon their initial goals and what experiences they benefitted from along the way.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our intern series!

Alana Anderson

What’s your biggest accomplishment during your internship? What are you most proud of?

This past week, my team and I gave a product review to the executive staff. For the past month, I had worked on preparing a deck for the meeting to update stakeholders on new product developments, address current focal points for growth and improvement, and identify strategic decisions that needed to be made. While creating this deck was an exercise in itself, it was also a great opportunity for me to reflect on my work here at AppDynamics. Since I joined in May, my team has made massive improvements to the existing self-service product, gained more robust insights into our product experience with user testing studies, and built two entirely new self-service offerings that will be GA this fall. Along the way, I’ve developed incredible relationships with the team members who have made all of this possible, learned how to make data-backed decisions and communicate them effectively, and gained confidence in my ability to drive teams to successful outcomes.

What have you learned from your projects, your mentor, your team, and/or AppDynamics?

At the beginning of my internship, I read Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager (basically, the PM bible). In the past two months, I’ve been able to live out these commandments first hand. I’ve seen an astounding amount of Good Product Management. I honestly believe that AppDynamics has one of the strongest product teams in all of enterprise software. I haven’t had too many experiences with Bad Product Management, but I’ve definitely learned from a few mistakes. Now two months into my internship, I feel more confident in identifying the good and the bad, building the skills I need to be a good product manager, and recovering from any bad product manager decisions. This field knowledge and intuition is exactly what I sought to gain out of my role here at AppDynamics. 

If you could go back in time to Day 1 of this internship, what advice would you give yourself and why?

Hm, I would give myself the advice that a mentor of mine, Akankshu Dhawan, gave to me about a week into my internship. He challenged me to meet with a new person every day for a half hour. This seems like a lofty task, and I have to say, it hasn’t been easy. It takes a lot of work to identify, reach out to, and plan a meeting with a new person every day! I don’t think this would be possible at a lot of other companies out there. At AppDynamics, it’s surprisingly easy. There are so many unbelievably talented, driven, and interesting people at this company and our warm culture makes reaching out to new people a piece of cake. I can literally ping the author of an interesting blog post to meet, and he will give me an hour of his time that afternoon. I have learned more from these daily meetings than I can even put into words.

Haojun Li

What did you choose to highlight in your demo presentation?

I not only presented my project and the technicality of it, but also the overall experience and soft skills learned throughout the experience. I highlighted the business acumen I was able to achieve by simply having an hour or so to talk to top executives of the company. Most of them had technical background and transitioned to business from their engineering career and that is what I want to do somewhere down the road. They are truly inspirational role models.

What’s your biggest accomplishment during your internship? What are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishment is that I was able to implement a feature that laid the groundwork for so many other features. I made it general enough so that others may build on top of my project. I was able to open the door to a whole new realm of possibilities and dramatically add value to the company.

What have you learned from your projects, your mentor, your team, and/or AppDynamics?

I’ve developed technical skills like byte code injection, and also gained valuable insight about the company and the industry. One simple lunch with the Chief Customer Success Officer opened my eyes about the future of APM and how AppDynamics is literally changing the definition of APM. My mentor also gives me priceless advices about career paths, and how I can further my skills after my internship. He is a true champion in my life.

If you could go back in time to Day 1 of this internship, what advice would you give yourself and why?

My advice would be to not be afraid to ask. On my first day, I was so determined to prove myself (and not sound dumb) that I dismissed any help offered, and ended up spending two days wandering around the code base aimlessly. Not knowing where to start, I finally summoned up my courage to ask my mentor. He dedicated an hour to deep dive into the codebase to show me its structure and how to navigate the codebase faster and more efficiently.

Nicholas Turley

What did you choose to highlight in your demo presentation?

In my demo presentation, I chose to highlight the improvements I made to the crash processor (my first “intern project”). I explained the algorithm I developed, as well as some of the key technical challenges I faced. I also summarized some of my work from later in the summer, which included investigating the Xamarin technology, developing a byte code injection prototype, and completing miscellaneous “tickets” from our issue tracking system. I concluded the presentation by outlining my three favorite parts of the internship: the product (go Application Intelligence!), the people (go AppDynamos!), and the place (go San Francisco!).

What’s your biggest accomplishment during your internship? What are you most proud of?

The code I wrote to improve our crash processor feels like a big accomplishment. It integrates with a large, sophisticated code base and will soon ship and become a part of the actual End User Monitoring product. I am also very proud of the work I did to demo advanced bytecode injection techniques. Although I had to overcome a number of technical obstacles, I was able to complete a working and well-documented prototype that I hope will be useful to my team.

What have you learned from your projects, your mentor, your team, and/or AppDynamics?

It is hard to summarize the vast number of things I learned at AppDynamics, but here are some examples. From my projects, I learned how to write more efficient, extensible and well-documented code in Java. From my mentor, I learned the importance of systematically evaluating (and documenting) different solutions to a problem before even starting to write code. From my team, I learned how a collaborative spirit improves everyone’s productivity and happiness. And from AppDynamics leadership, I learned the significance of constant internal process optimization (both on the technical and the organizational side) when scaling a company of this size and potential.

If you could go back in time to Day 1 of this internship, what advice would you give yourself and why?

If I could go back to Day 1, I would encourage myself to be a bit less shy and ask as many questions as possible. Everyone at AppDynamics is so happy to share their knowledge and point colleagues in the right direction.

The lessons our interns will take away from their time at AppDynamics are invaluable. They all hoped to learn and develop specific skills, but instead came away with much more than just improved technical capacity. They each gained a new level of self-confidence in their abilities and developed crucial relationships with mentors that will continue well past their internship program.  And that is precisely what we aim for all of our interns — to help formulate their career paths as future fresh graduates and provide them with the resources necessary to boldly make their next step.  

The post From Students to Engineers: Experience Built to Last appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog | AppDynamics.

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