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CultureAug 31, 2018

10 Lessons From a Summer Internship With Credera

Maddie Pellman, and Aydin Zanagar

A team of five: One project director, one tech lead, one front-end designer, and two interns. Two interns. Initially, the challenges ahead seemed daunting, but even still we were excited to step into our summer internship at Credera. We were ready and eager to work on such a small team and to have the opportunity to immensely impact the redesign of a major public website. Our summer kicked off in the envision phase, a phase where the team defines the scope of the project and begins to nail down how the deliverables will actually be executed. The next phase was the actual execution of the envision phase and after a crazy and fun 10 weeks, we ended the internship with the website about a week and a half from launch.

Since we were able to see the full project lifecycle, work at the client site and have a huge amount of ownership as interns, we decided to collectively share 10 takeaways from the summer.

10 takeaways:

1. Research Will Carry You Farther Than You Think (Maddie):

During the first two weeks, the front-end developer from our project left to serve an emergency need with another client. This forced me to “swim in the deep end.” Before this summer, my HTML/CSS/Javascript base was minimal to none. And with the front-end developer gone, I was asked to make the components for the main page layout (the navigation bar and footer). Overwhelmed with my lack of knowledge, I quickly dove into Google and began chipping away. Ten weeks later, after many roadblocks and deadends, I can confidently say that despite feeling overwhelmed at the beginning, being thrown into the deep end was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was forced to learn quickly, develop efficient search skills, discover when to research further and when to ask questions, and ultimately gained confidence in my ability to pick up new technology skills. While determination helped immensely, online research was the best resource I could’ve asked for and will be a tool I utilize as I continue to be introduced to new technologies.

2. Our Client Is Pretty Dang Good (Maddie):

As a team, we did “company research” and went to a client restaurant for lunch one Friday. We got to eat the pizza buffet and reminisce about our childhood days by playing arcade games in exchange for tickets. We laughed as we competed in games and enjoyed the various flavors of pizza at our disposal. It is really motivating (and fun!) when you can be engaged in the client’s core business.

3. Even as an Intern, Your Contribution Matters (Maddie):

Credera is a unique company in that they completely trust their interns, giving interns work that is important to both them and the client. Coming into the internship, I found this trust very empowering. It challenged me to put in the extra work to ensure that my contributing items were on par with what a full-time employee would produce. It also challenged me to speak up in meetings and assume ownership over project work streams. This trust was not only from the folks who hired us but also extended into those we interacted with on a daily basis. Our project director gave us a lot of autonomy, granting us trust from the start and allowing us the freedom to creatively solve problems, as discussed by Aydin later in the article. Again, this only fueled our desire to perform exceptional work and encouraged us to be open and ready to learn.

4. The Perks of Being On-Site With a Client (Maddie):

By working at the client site every day, we were able to interact with the employees directly involved in our project but also interact with others in the office. Through these interactions, we’ve been fortunate enough to learn the client’s culture and better understand the importance of delivering a well-designed and efficient website and how that impacts each stakeholder.

5. Find Passion in What You Are Doing (Maddie):

Front-end development has been an area I’ve wanted to learn for a long time, and I feel fortunate that Credera worked with my interests and gave me the opportunity to hone this craft. My advice to future interns is take the tasks you are given and find a specific part you are passionate about. Front-end development is the perfect intersection of both my passion for design and my passion for technology. With a knowledge for front-end development, I have found myself exploring websites with more wonder and awe and have found myself admiring the skill and craft of the front-end developer on my team. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn more about front-end development than I ever thought I could in 10 weeks.

6. Unique Problems Require Creative Solutions (Aydin):

There have been multiple times I have spent hours fruitlessly Googling a problem to find out if someone else may have previously developed a solution. I have spent many periods in these 10 weeks in the technical “wild wild west,” whittling square pegs down to fit into round holes, expanding technology beyond its intended use cases to deliver a seamless solution. These experiences were, to be frank, quite frustrating at times. But struggling through these challenges helped me gain a much deeper understanding of the technologies involved and gave me the mental arsenal to continually provide solutions and overcome problems throughout the summer.

7. Don’t Hesitate to Speak up If You Have a Meaningful Contribution (Aydin):

Credera is extremely unique in the way that no opinion or idea goes unheard. Even as an intern, I felt able and encouraged to contribute new ideas and make suggestions to improve existing ideas. Admittedly though, it took a while for me to get to the point where I felt comfortable and confident enough to speak up. My only regret from my 10 weeks here is not being bold enough to act sooner. Given the culture and level of mutual respect that exists within Credera, I know I could have started voicing my ideas and been heard and considered on day one.

8. Everyone Is Willing to Help (Aydin):

No one at Credera is unreachable. From new hire consultants to the CEO, everyone is willing to lend an ear and an idea if they are able to, even with us being at the client site all summer. No question goes unanswered and no concern unaddressed. There is no reason to ever hesitate to ask a question. If the person you approach may not be the best person to help resolve your issue, they will go out of their way to find the right person to help you. This is truly unique to the culture and compassion of Credera.

9. Be a Sponge (Aydin):

Ten weeks flies by in a flash. Treat every interaction, success, mistake, and new experience as an opportunity to learn. There are so many bright people at Credera and so much to gain from working with and watching them. My internship at Credera has been my fifth internship, and I can confidently say, without exaggeration, that I learned more in the first three weeks at Credera than I did in the entirety of my other four internships. And even beyond the first three weeks, I continued to learn at a rapid rate. Take advantage of every second because it will benefit you greatly, as both a person and a professional.

10. Take Pride in Your Work (Aydin):

The work I have done at Credera has by no means been easy. I encountered new challenges every day and was constantly kept on my toes. But the nature of these difficulties and the struggles of overcoming mental obstacles and technical roadblocks makes the final product all the more rewarding. I am very proud of the work I have done over the past two and a half months, particularly because I can reflect back on how challenging it was and how hard I had to work to succeed. I look forward to showing off the website when it launches to family and friends, and I am beyond excited to see all of the hours of debugging and gallons of coffee come to fruition.

This summer has been as far away from the cliche coffee-running intern experience as possible. We constantly felt like appreciated, valued, and respected members of the Credera family. Coming into the summer with relatively clear ideas of what we wanted to gain, our expectations were easily exceeded; we learned more than we could have imagined possible, allowing us to grow technically, professionally, and personally. And even outside of the confines of the workplace, we were able to grow in humility, companionship, and confidence by serving alongside our peers in Houston, creating friendships that will last well beyond the bounds of the internship, and receiving continuous feedback and encouragement. While we cannot yet say what may come in the future, this summer with Credera at the client site is certainly unforgettable and will surely impact our actions, thoughts, and attitudes for a long time to come. Thank you for a great summer.

my credera

Culture is something that is experienced in a variety of different ways. We’re sharing the many ways Crederians experience our culture in a series called My Credera. The heart behind this series is for our company, employees, clients, and friends to have an inside look at the Credera culture by reading about our employees’ “My Credera” moments. In this series, we are talking about our core values, personal and professional growth, mentorship, community involvement, favorite Credera memories, life after college, and what it looks like to create a career at Credera.

At Credera, we love to celebrate every achievement, milestone, and moments of growth. We are excited to open up and invite you in to experience those celebrations with us. If you’d like to learn more about joining the Credera family, we invite you to visit our careers page.