2020: Lessons to Learn
We have had a number of outstanding interns in the past. At the end of the 2020 academic year, when the global pandemic was grinding the economy to a screeching halt, many university students were having their internships canceled. As a result, universities were reaching out to alumni networks to help find opportunities and make sure their students wouldn’t miss out on gaining valuable career experience.
As a remote-first company, we were well equipped to offer remote internship opportunities. With help from Erin Aucar, the DC Regional Engagement Manager for the Center for Career Development at the University of Notre Dame, we were able to quickly bootstrap a remote internship opportunity for the summer of 2020. Despite the uncertainty and logistical challenges, five Computer Science students were onboarded and spent their summers working remotely to write software for Volexity products or contribute to the open source Volatility project.
2021: Planning for Success
Building on the lessons learned and feedback from our 2020 interns, we got a head start building out our 2021 Internship Program. With the help of Ms. Aucar, we participated in career fairs and served as guest lecturers at the University of Notre Dame during the 2020-2021 term. As a result, we were introduced to a number of extremely talented students and were able to select an impressive incoming class of interns.
Given that the pandemic continued to create a lot of uncertainty throughout the academic year, many employers were once again either canceling upcoming 2021 summer internships or remaining remote for the summer. With extra time for planning, we worked closely with our incoming interns to offer options for both remote and in-person internships opportunities.
Location: On Site in Maryland
After a year of lockdown and fresh vaccinations, it’s probably not surprising that all the interns decided to join us in person at our office in Maryland. We provided both financial and logistical housing support for our interns to make their transition as seamless as possible. We also connected them prior to the start of the internship, so they could get to know each other and coordinate their summer experiences. Once they arrived, we hosted several first-week events, including technical and social gatherings to let them learn more about the team and the technologies they would be working with all summer.
Despite the unknowns of moving to a new region of the country and starting an internship during a pandemic, Selina, a third-year Computer Science major, found a welcoming company culture focused on teaching and helping others: “The entire summer program was a learning experience, and I always felt challenged. It was just the right amount of challenge, and if I was ever stuck, I never felt intimidated to ask questions or to ask for guidance in solving the problems. There are also many opportunities to learn about new technologies that you may be unfamiliar with, and to gain experience with them. Everyone here at Volexity is so open and welcoming, and willing to share their experiences and knowledge!”
Projects: Tailored to Interests
While creating a culture and environment where students can learn is a major priority for our program, it is also intended to give students the opportunity to work on projects that will have a meaningful impact on the industry and give students real-world experience. As a part of their on-boarding process, new interns have the opportunity to choose from a number of projects that are critical to the company.
Working on large-scale software projects often attracts Computer Science majors, but this year we also had a couple of engineering majors who stepped up to the challenge! Calvin, a rising Senior majoring in Computer Engineering, worked with the web development team to build a production web user interface: “I would just say that Volexity truly offers a wide variety of opportunities to work on something you really like and get expert advice from people who have been doing software development for a long time. Everyone is extremely helpful and nice as well!”
Bridget, a junior majoring in both Electrical and Computer Engineering, had an interest in low-level operating system details: “Basically the whole time I felt like I was learning something, and most of the time it was something I wouldn’t have been able to learn or taken the time to learn otherwise. Being able to choose what project I wanted to work on and working on something that would actually be used was really great as well.”
Balance: Work + Play
Alan, a senior from Notre Dame, who worked as a Software Engineer on the Surge Product team also found value in contributing to projects that were meaningful to the company while experiencing an enjoyable summer: “I would say that Volexity invests heavily into their internship, they give interns projects that are important to the company, and give them plenty of guidance with great project leads. They also put on really fun activities throughout the summer, like hiking, canoeing, and dinners. I feel very prepared for the future with the skills I developed during the internship, and working on large-scale software projects was a great experience.”
Consistent with Volexity’s philosophy that employee health comes first, and that strong relationships are critical to our company’s success, we organized a wide range of team-building and social activities this summer for our interns and full-time employees. Outside of work, we hosted a number of company and team lunches, dinners, outdoor activities, professional sporting events, and networking events. These entirely optional outings provided invaluable opportunities for interns to get to know their team, meet other people in the company, and build lasting relationships in their chosen field.
Experience: Real-world Impact
Inside of work, our commitment starts with a dedicated set of mentors and team leads who guide the interns through their summer projects. Building on a tradition that we started several years ago, we also hosted a weekly meet the interns series that introduces the interns to a variety of company leaders and business units. This series allows our new hires to gain broad perspective about the industry, hear about the career paths of our amazing team, and ask questions on a wide variety of topics. Our interns were also invited to participate in regularly-scheduled company meetings, including engineering discussions, sales conversations, product demos, and our Maryland office’s weekly reading group.
“At Volexity, an intern is given the same amount of respect as a full-time employee,” said Frank, a senior Computer Science major, who interned as a Software Engineer on the Surge product team. “I personally had the chance to work on an application that was actually put into production for the company shortly after my time as an intern, which is possibly the best experience a person can get in this field. The emphasis on learning by doing is so helpful in my technical development. What is also unique about Volexity, though, is that if you have a question about a technology, you are surrounded by some of the most talented people in the field, some of whom even wrote the tool or technology you might be asking about!”
“My favorite aspect of the program was how tailored the program was to my interests,” said Frank, who continued to work with us throughout the academic year. “Volexity made a clear, devoted commitment to working with each of the interns to grow in a way that mutually benefited the intern and the company at the same time. This symbiotic relationship led to even more wonderful aspects of the summer, such as full-time employees’ respect for my knowledge/designs/ideas, as well as an allowance of freedom which allowed for a great deal of creativity. Also, having the internship in person was a HUGE plus for me, after such a tumultuous year.”
Despite the uncertainty and logistical challenges of building an internship program during a global pandemic, it has proven to be a rewarding experience for both the students and Volexity. By hiring a diverse group of people with different backgrounds from across the country, we have created an inclusive environment where students feel empowered to contribute their unique strengths and ideas. It also speaks volumes that many of our interns have returned to the company as full-time employees (shout out to Melka, a 2020 summer intern who recently joined us full time as a software engineer!). We are excited to see the continued success of all our intern alumni!
We would like to thank our interns for their perseverance, hard work, and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming school year!
If you are interested in future internship opportunities at Volexity, please contact us.