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"...the experience was invaluable."

As part of our series of interviews with jStart interns, we sat down with Aaron Lindsay, an intern with jStart back in 2011. Aaron attended Virginia Tech, and after interning at jStart, went back to VT to pursue a graduate degree. While at jStart, Aaron worked primarily on two projects (ASAP, and MMMS), as well as helping out on the jStart website by building custom widgets.

QWhy did you choose to become an intern at jStart?

AI was interested in web technologies, particularly those which were new (or at least old technologies being used in new ways), and an internship with jStart promised to let me learn more about them while gaining industry experience.

QWhat did you want to get out of the internship?

A In short: experience, tuition money, and a future job.

QDid you hit those goals?

A Yes. I was able to gain some valuable experience in software development, I was able to save money for tuition, and the work I did at jStart encouraged me to apply those skills in graduate school...which in a way, led to the job I have now.

QWhat was most challenging aspect of your internship at jStart?

A Even though I was playing with emerging technologies, there's always going to be a portion of the work that's 'grunt work'--it's not only about playing with the latest technologies, it's also about writing the code. Staying focused when the work was of that type was the hardest part of the internship for me.

QAnything about the work you did while interning stand out to you? That you're most proud of?

A The fact that a few interns were able to design a product prototype with very little outside help (of course we had some guidance, but no coding support) was exciting and an accomplishment.

QWhat's the one thing you wish you could do over, or improve, from your experience with jStart?

A The one thing that I would go back and change, if I could: I would have liked to get to know those team members I didn't work with closely better.

QWhat did you work on as an intern?

A MMMS (a generic web monitoring and reporting service), various jStart web page projects, and a new distributed web-based mash-up platform for mobile/desktop that was called ASAP.

QSo what are you doing today?

A I work for Qualcomm optimizing software for next-generation mobile application processors and helping to influence the design of future processors.

QLooking back on your internship experience w/jStart, did your opinion of the team change? What's your opinion of it today?

A I would say that before my internship, I had the perception that people in the software industry possessed something significant that I didn't--I kind of put them on a pedestal. Throughout the internship, I learned that while members of the jStart team were great, I could actually contribute and make a difference--and the team not only listened to my ideas, but let me run with them, too. In a way, it gave me more confidence--I knew that I could work on the same level with a little hard work and even more hard-won experience.

QWould you do it again?

A Yes, the experience was invaluable. Even though I didn't actually end up working full-time at IBM, my internship at jStart was very important in helping me gain valuable experience while figuring out what I did want to do.

QAny words of wisdom for future interns?

A If you're thinking about becoming an intern, you are on your way to taking the best advice I can give you--which is to get an internship/co-op (or two or three) while you're still in school. My co-op with jStart helped enhance my skill set and bolster my resume--both of which made me more appealing to prospective employers.

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