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Interning at Jana

Howdy! My name is Reid Pryzant. I am the resident software engineering intern at Jana this summer. I hope to tell you a little about myself, Jana, and what being an intern here is like.

tl;dr: it’s the best thing ever.

About Me

I am a Junior at Williams College and am double majoring in Computer Science and Statistics. I also compete as a part of the track team and am a member of the beekeeping club. Before Jana, I interned as a Bioinformatic research assistant.

I applied for an internship with Jana in the winter. After a coding challenge and a series of interviews, I got the job! Interning at Jana has been great. Here’s some reasons why.

I Worked on Cool Stuff

I am a member of Jana’s SWAT team. We are in charge of bug fixes, testing, QA automation, and maintenance of our administrative tools. We also take the lead on any high priority issues that no other team can handle. It’s the perfect team to be a part of as an intern. There’s no telling what you’ll be working on next. Because of this, you become exposed to a much greater array of material than you would as part of any single-purpose team.

Here’s some examples of things I helped build. I changed some of the UI on a splash page that millions of members see. I refactored code at the heart of our technology. I worked alongside foreign engineers to integrate several airtime technologies into our system. I wrote tests and fixed bugs in every major part of our code base.

My Work was Important

The code I wrote mattered. This seems simple, but it is more than a majority of interns can say about their summers. People depended on me and the features I realized affected everybody working at Jana.  From day one, I had code that went all the way to our member-facing production servers (plot below). Additionally, I finished seven projects that affected more than 500 lines of code.

This plot shows how many lines of code I added (blue) or removed (red) each day.

This plot shows how many lines of code I added (blue) or removed (red) each day.

As a member of Jana, I had a real impact on tens of thousands of people each day. This number only grew as the summer progressed. It was fun to be an important part of an idea that’s growing so ferociously.

Jana is a Fun Place to Be

Jana’s office is right in the middle of Boston. There are huge windows that overlook the common. There are always snacks, beer, candy, and anything else you could want around the office. One Friday everybody took a ferry to a nearby island and hung out at a barbeque. It was pretty sweet.

My desk. Complete with Jana mug.

My desk. Complete with Jana mug.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 3.11.12 PM

It’s hard not to enjoy this view

Because no office is complete without its own kegerator.

Because no office is complete without its own kegerator.

We have a game room that's pretty stocked.

We have a game room that’s pretty stocked.

The best thing about interning at Jana

Jana’s popularity is genuinely skyrocketing. It has a real shot at changing the way billions of people live. In this setting, I am treated as a full-time engineer. There are no training wheels. For example, about halfway through my first day at Jana, I fixed a real-life bug that was affecting millions of our members. I was someone who was unfamiliar with most development techniques. I had no experience with the Jana code base. Being dropped into the problem came as a shock. That first day set the pace for the rest of my summer.

This kind of “trial by fire” internship isn’t for everyone. There is a huge learning curve. It can be difficult to figure out foreign code by yourself. Having complete ownership over your work is a lot of responsibility for an intern. If you enjoy challenges, though, it is perfect for you. I love it. What my summer lacked in handholding was more than made up for with useful experience. I got real shit done. I have become a more self-sufficient and competent worker. I am more confident when I approach code I’ve never seen before. I am comfortable owning problems I don’t know how to solve. This confidence is something all professional engineers are expected to have but no ‘traditional’ internship will teach you.

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