How I spent my summer

Being a senior going into my last year studying Computer Science at the University of Kentucky without much quantifiable experience, I knew I had to do something before being pushed out into the real world.  I began looking around Lexington, KY and applied for just about anything that contained the word “computer.”  However, I tended to avoid anything that contained the words “startup” or “small company” because I felt my knowledge base was not sufficient to cover the vast amount of qualifications in many of those postings.  As my email inbox and cell phone started to grow cobwebs on the job front, I shifted my focus to Cincinnati. When I looked at US Digital Partners, I saw a lot of the things I wanted to avoid in an internship:

•    Working on many different projects at once.
•    Personal interaction with clients.
•    A broad list of technologies used.

I was mostly looking for a resume builder just to say that I had experience, and wasn’t really interested in challenging myself.  I was pretty desperate at this point to get some experience on my plate so I ended up setting up a lunch meeting with a couple of the partners.  A few things they said resonated with me, particularly the fact that the company is talent-based and not necessarily experience-based.  I knew I had talent for computer programming but hadn’t really had to put that knowledge and talent to the test.  So naturally, I was intrigued. Several months later, I got a call to participate in a summer internship.

As soon as I got here, I could recognize the immense amount of talent that was emanating from the designers and developers present.  Everything was done to a standard of perfection and I could tell that it was going to be a rough start for me.  I was pretty terrified of what would happen if I couldn’t handle the pressure of producing the same results as some of these veterans.  I had only slightly touched web programming in my 4 years in academia so I had no idea what to expect.  There was no training program for this position.  As soon as I was schooled on the basics and paperwork of USDP, I was thrust into the development team and began working.

Within the first week, I had touched at least 5 different projects through maintenance and small development tasks.  As I previously mentioned, I was scared of the idea of having to work on multiple projects. It seemed so hard to manage and I thought that I would quickly fall behind.  Luckily, the beginning of summer was a bit slow and I was able to make sure everything was completed on time.  After a few weeks, I took on my first large project.  It was after this that I discovered that working on many different small things is so much more refreshing and rewarding.  The challenge of doing so helped me grow in my knowledge of web and software development. Many of the projects I worked on used different technologies and I was forced to learn the basics of each.  I had never used .NET, PHP, or any database software.  I had never even heard of WordPress, Sitefinity, or other content management systems. I had to learn everything on the spot, and boy did I learn a lot.

After only a month’s worth of experience, I felt I was capable of handling any task thrown at me.  I was amazed at how much I learned in only a month and how much more confident I was in myself as a person because of my success in that first month.  While the majority of this newfound knowledge came from previous experience in academia and researching it on my own, a good chunk of it came from the immensely helpful group of people working here.  If there was anything that I couldn’t find out on my own, the answer was only a question away.

As I started getting more comfortable in my role at USDP as an interactive developer, I also became more comfortable with the members of the USDP team.  Each person has their own unique perspective and talent. I think the employees are where the true success lies in this company.  I can’t remember a single day at USDP without smiling or laughing at something someone said.  There is such diversity among this group of people and productivity thrives because of it. Through numerous meetings, lunches, and happy hours, I started to see the great value this company holds in its employees, and it feels great to work here.

Sadly, the summer has come to an end and I must make my way back to college.  However, I shouldn’t be sad.  I should be reveling in the fact that I had this wonderful opportunity.  I knew that landing an internship at USDP was going to be a great opportunity for me, but I had no idea exactly how much it would make me grow as a student, an engineer, and individual as a whole.
Dave Whelan
interactive developer
us digital partners

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By Dave, Posted August 18, 2011

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