7 minute read

Written by - Jing Deng

Around seven months ago, I officially farewelled University of New South Wales, Australia 🇦🇺 UNSW and concluded my chapter as an undergraduate university student. Despite being a relatively fresh graduate, I actually started my corporate journey two years ago, and I have to admit, I genuinely have not missed a single day of learning experiences at University. And in this blog, I would like to share some of my personal experiences on how I found my way into the corporate world.

Jing celebrating graduation ceremoney at UNSW campus

🎉Jing celebrating graduation ceremoney 🎓 at UNSW campus

And in this blog, I would like to share some of my personal experiences on how I found my way into the corporate world 🙌🏼 in simple 3 sections :

  1. How I secured my internship

  2. Looking back on my internship experiences

  3. What’s next

How I secured my internship

How I secured my internship/graduate opportunities

Landing the first job wasn’t easy at all, it took a lot of work. Some might disagree, but speaking from personal experience, working hard does not directly translate into opportunities, timing and luck often plays an equally important role if not more.

Winding back a few years in time, I was an average uni-student who was satisfied with my situation, turning up on campus, getting assignments done, somewhat absorbing knowledge from completing courses one after another and was led to believe that I have a bright future ahead of myself. Little did I know that many fellow uni-students attending the same courses were already at least one or two internships into their professional careers. By the time I found out, I was already at a significant disadvantage.

Being aware of the situation, I started my internship searching journey. I was mainly looking for opportunities in two ways, the career opportunities tab under the company’s website and job searching platforms. You might be wondering, why didn’t I opt for the university-offered co-op program. Unfortunately, these programs typically have a required course mark to apply and I’m simply not the typical straight-A student that they are looking for…

To compensate for the above, I was sending out dozens of resumes and cover letters on a weekly basis and hoped that the number of applications can give me an ever slightly better chance at landing an internship. But sadly not only didn’t I receive little to no interview opportunities, but I was also completely disappointed by the overwhelmingly low percentage of responses that I was receiving, even if it was a rejecting notice.

Rejections after rejections were definitely depressing, but most importantly it reminded me to alter my internship searching strategy. Instead of mass applying with relatively low preparation and effort, I started to reduce the number of applications that I was sending, which allowed me to spend more time on organisation-specific research and cover letter modifications.

And my approach to deciding what opportunities were worth taking forward was simple if it seems too good to be true, then it is sadly not feasible for me. I restricted my search scope to only focus on organisations with relatively smaller team sizes and less formal and structured recruiting processes, as I believe it will give me a better shot of proceeding further on my internship journey.

Simultaneously, I was also trying to become a more valuable intern candidate in my own right. I began by committing time outside of study to work on side projects that allows me to build on my existing knowledge and slowly moved towards expanding my skill set by taking online courses as well as cracking online coding questions.

While the changes did not bring me overnight differences, I was confident that I was moving along the right path. Slowly but surely, not only my applications were getting noticed, but interview invites also started to come through.

After booming a few invites due to my lack of interviewing experiences, I was able to quickly study from my mistake and ultimately secured my first-ever professional internship as a full-stacked web developer at a start-up company. Despite the nature of the internship being an unpaid offer, I was extremely happy and grateful for the opportunity I was given. I went on to work for the start-up for six months with my head down learning as much as I can before quitting due to the overwhelming amount of work from both the internship and University.

But the experiences I was able to gain through securing the first internship combined with the technical skills I acquired in the role itself helped me quickly secure another intern opportunity at a bigger organisation shorter after.

Generally speaking, I believe it’s the mindset of not giving up and studying from mistakes that helped me in placing the first few footsteps in my career journey. And it is crucial to acknowledge that luck was also a key factor during your recruitment processes, sometimes you’ll find recruiters that had similar experiences with you and are able to see the potential in you, and sometimes you’ll find companies that have certain values out-weighting your personal skills, drawing meaningful conclusion out of these interviews regardless of their outcome should always be the priority.

Jing looking at UNSW building during graduation ceremoney day

Jing looking at UNSW building 🏫

Looking back on my internship

Looking back on my internship/graduate experiences

Over the last two years, I have been a part of two internships and one graduate offer in different organisations, and as you can maybe imagine, the experiences of working in various companies with different scales are significantly different.

Starting with start-up businesses, due to the small team size nature, there is a relatively small amount of artefacts and routines I need to familiarise myself with, and as a result,

I was put into battle shortly after I was onboarded. While getting into action at such a fast pace might sound scary, it was also one of the most rapid learning experiences I have ever had.

Thanks to the variety of hands-on tasks I can involve myself with from building frontend web apps to backend API, configuring cloud-based infrastructures and many other real-world technical problem-solving challenges.

Apart from gaining rich development experiences, the start-up internship also offered me a great opportunity to play multiple other roles in a development team. Since the development team were made up of quite a bit of intern, I became one of the more experienced devs on the team despite only being three-four months into the role, and for that exact reason.

I started to take on additional responsibilities such as contributing to scoping and planning for feature releases as well as training new members.

While these were not the sort of learning I initially anticipated, I was able to pack on a lot of necessary skills for corporate working.

A cat standing on Jings desk with monotors

Jings cat 🐈‍⬛ next to his monotors

On the other hand, organisations with decent sizes are much more structured. I felt like I was well taken care of from the very first minute of joining.

I was given plenty of time to learn about my team as well as the countless amount of artefacts that are being actively developed, maintained and also used by production users. I was given the option to progressively pick up technical tasks as I gradually travel along the learning journey.

While I was not learning about as many areas as the first internship, I was able to dive a lot deeper into each area, and with the constant feedback cycle that I was receiving from my team, it was a very pleasant learning experience. And not to mention that, in the ever-evolving technology world, a sizeable organisation with more resources is simply a better platform to get in touch with the latest technologies and software which I found extremely valuable as a tech-rookie.

A cat next to Jings desk with monotors

Jings cat 🐈‍⬛ next to his monotors again 😻

Generally speaking, I found working as an intern in these companies incredibly beneficial as long as the right mindset is adopted.

It may sound cliche to say “No question is stupid”, but I can give you countless examples of my own experiences to justify the saying, regardless of what role or what company that I was working on/with.

I was able to consistently find myself progressing most rapidly when I was willing to ask questions, make mistakes, connections and ultimately draw learning outcomes from them.

What’s next

Jumping back to the present, thanks to my current employer’s recognition, I have recently become a graduate / junior engineer. But just like the time I started Uni, the time I started to search for intern and the time I put a full stop to my intern chapter, I believe this is yet another beginning of a journey with countless opportunities and memorable experiences.

Now that I have officially set sail for my corporate journey, there are still many untouched territories in the IT world that I am keen to explore and experience, and I can’t wait to try out as many options and get to know more about various career path, and I shall see where the wind take me ⛵.

Since this blog is sounding more and more like my thesis essay, I will gracefully

process.exit( )

And as a last remark

I would like to appreciate everyone who supported me along the way, family, friends, community, mentors everything that I have not mentioned but played an impactful part in my journey.

Thank’s for reading till the end ❤️ , let’s connect on Linkedin