Sep 11, 2020

Let’s Get Technical About Consulting: Summer 2020 Intern Edition

Grace Li

Grace Li and Ethan Partin

Let’s Get Technical About Consulting: Summer 2020 Intern Edition

Grace Li and Ethan Partin participated in Credera’s Summer 2020 Internship Program in our Open Technology Solutions practice. Grace and Ethan both attend Texas A&M University and are majoring in Computer Science with minors in Visualization and Business, respectively. After spending a summer with Credera, they were inspired to share their thoughts on the sometimes elusive topic of what technology consulting interns actually do, why technical students should consider a career in consulting, and what they wish they knew going into their internship.

1. What does a technology consulting intern do?

Being a technology consulting intern means talking to clients, listening and understanding their problem, brainstorming ideas, writing code, debugging, more code writing, followed by even more debugging, delivering technical solutions, attending virtual coffees, and a splash of everything in between.  Our mornings start off with a brief daily stand-up meeting with our project team. This is our chance to touch base on everyone’s progress, envision our tasks for the day, and discuss anything that could potentially block progress. This is all part of something called the Agile development, a common methodology found in technology companies where we deploy progress in small, but consumable increments.

Ethan: After our daily stand-up meeting, I will usually start developing and working on whatever tasks I might have lined up for that day. Most days, I will normally have a coffee chat with another coworker to help take a little break and relax. I end each day with a meeting with my Onboarding Peer, an assigned colleague who has been working at Credera for several years, and we will talk about how my day went, any questions I might have, and various other topics.

Grace: While Ethan’s having coffee, I am most likely in a different kind of meeting with stakeholders, demoing any developments I made and receiving feedback on what worked and what didn’t. After each page review, I go over notes from the meeting and work with my team to find the best practice for implementing these changes.

2. What surprised you about technology consulting?

As computer science majors, technical skills are often prioritized and soft skills such as public speaking, active listening, and strong team player qualities are often overlooked and undervalued in our classes. However, a consultant’s responsibility is to provide quality solutions to their client. To do this well you not only need to have strong technical skills, but you must develop strong client-facing skills as well. Technical consulting isn’t about sitting alone in a dark room and programming all day. It’s about being in a highly collaborative environment where you work with technical and non-technical teammates and clients.

If the client can’t understand what’s being delivered, then it’s not an effective solution. That’s why a technical consultant is needed. They serve as the bridge between the two worlds, as someone who understands the nitty-gritty technical aspects, while also seamlessly translating these technical solutions to clients. It surprised us how much our voices mattered despite only being interns – we felt that we were given a platform to share and express our ideas.

3. What were some internal projects you worked on? Programs, languages, etc. you used.

We contributed to three internal projects throughout the summer and had the chance to learn about a diverse variety of applications through our weekly project sync-ups.

Grace: I had a chance to work on the Portal - Credera’s internal information hub - and its modernization effort. The goal was to create a more visually appealing aesthetic and overall improved user experience when Crederians needed information or resources. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we were using out-of-the-box solutions and customizing them to fit our situation. We worked within Microsoft’s Sharepoint framework and leveraged React.js for the front-end to create custom web parts for the website.

Ethan: I was working on an internal tool for Project Liftoff which was equally front-end and back-end utilizing Java and Spring for its back-end and React for front-end. Project Liftoff integrated Azure Active Directory with several of the other internal services that Credera uses allowing HR to have a “one-stop-shop” for managing employee accounts instead of having to make the same changes several times.

Each week at our project sync-ups all the other interns would meet to share our progress, any issues we faced, and how they were resolved. Overall, working at Credera as a technology consultant allowed us gain real-world experience with various modern technologies.

4. What advice would you give to other students considering technology consulting?

Before this internship, neither of us could say that we fully understood what it meant to be a technology consultant. We knew we didn’t want to be working on the same client like one might do in industry and liked the social interaction aspect of consulting. But after this internship with Credera, we both agreed that this was what we wanted to pursue as a profession. Furthermore, we want to share our experiences so that other students can imagine themselves pursuing this career path and decide whether consulting is right for them.

There’s a saying that two years in industry is one in consulting. That’s because in consulting, no two projects that are identical and the opportunities you’re given allow you to go above and beyond your role without limits. A client is looking for someone who can deliver a solution and that means you’ll often find yourself wearing many different hats within a team to bring that solution to life. You end up branching out into different roles and skills while gaining exposure to different areas of work. 

Unlike industry, where you often specialize in one field and the scope of work is restricted, in technical consulting, you are not limited to a certain framework, a language or pipeline.  One of the best parts about consulting is that you’re constantly learning. There's always a new solution, a different problem, or other technologies that you will be working with. You become more efficient, better at finding the right resources, and learn to adapt. At the same time, you’ll often find yourself lost before you start understanding the problem, so being comfortable with being uncomfortable is important.

At Credera, we learned and experienced first-hand the importance of networking and then maintaining those connections so you can develop strong working relationships overtime. You could be the brightest technology consultant, but if you’re unable to maintain good working relationships, you won’t get far. When there’s a blocker, it was much easier to ask another Crederian to help than to suffer alone for hours trying to solve the issue. Having those strong working relationships in place made it even easier to ask for help.

Finally, when clients look to engage technology consultants, they’re not just looking for someone who can deliver a solution but also a good personality fit. Technical minds that are not only bright but are also able to communicate well. At Credera, you’ll work alongside a talented team of well-rounded individuals that are committed to supporting your professional development as you progress from intern to consultant and – someday – a future leader at Credera.

Find Your Fit

Interested in joining one of Credera’s technical practices as an intern or upon graduation? Check out our website to apply! Job applications open on September 1st and close on September 25th.

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