Reflections from our Software Engineer Intern: Isaac

 Starlyn and Isaac exploring Mandë's lab during their first week

Starlyn and Isaac exploring Mandë's lab during their first week

When I was in high school, a teacher once asked my class, “what do you think the secret to getting a job is? Internships, internships, internships!” And every summer in college I would apply for an internship, confident and hopeful in landing one. After almost four consecutive summers of applying, I finally achieved it. The stars finally seemed to be aligning for me. Was I finally seeing my teacher’s generic advice come to fruition? One could only hope.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern as a software engineer at Killer Snails LLC. I applied for this  opportunity through the Tech Talent Pipeline residency program at my school, CUNY Lehman College. I remember right before the interview hearing my name being called and then the company name. “..You’re up next..with…Killer Snails!” I went in unsure of the challenge but also confident and as myself. None of my peers mentioned if they interviewed with this company. I had no idea what I was in for. But it was there I met my future bosses, the lead developer Chris, and the CEO and co-founder Jessica.  Our interview lasted for around forty minutes to an hour. Everything I learned about the company made me interested and hopeful to work there. They mentioned games for education, bringing science to kids outside of the classroom, virtual reality. I was sold. But did I sell myself well enough to them? A few weeks later, my co-intern Starlyn and I got an email from the CEO Jessica, We are so thrilled to have you interning with us!” I was ecstatic. I got my first tech internship.

These past three months have developed not only my technical and soft skillsets, but also paved a clearer career path for myself. Every Tuesday I attended team meetings at the Weill Cornell Medical College in the office of Dr. Mandë Holford, an amazing scientist and member of the team. I attended Games for Change, a conference where I learned about games with positive-impact and how to apply for grants in tech (and attended Jess’ talk on the game startup industry); and MineFaire, where I demoed the new Killer Snails VR game to kids and families at MineFaire, where I networked with other game developers and teachers in the industry.

 Isaac overseeing playtesting at MineFaire

Isaac overseeing playtesting at MineFaire

My teacher’s advice on internships is still relevant, especially with my graduation next spring fast approaching. But I consider myself very lucky to have been able to work with the Killer Snails team. I have not only become a more confident software engineer in the workplace, but sharpened my abilities in a start-up environment. I’ve improved my skills in back-end development through learning different JavaScript libraries like jQuery UI, and server-side languages like PHP. I faced challenges as well. Prior to this internship I was a beginner in PHP and jQuery UI. I recommend all startup interns to barrage your supervisors with questions (sorry Chris and Jess). Most important of all, I honed my skills in receiving and giving critical feedback. We all tested and reviewed the new VR game that KS has planned for release soon. Providing my insight on the game made me a more confident team-member in meetings and developer standups. But that’s the most I can share about this bold, new game from Killer Snails. Thank you Chris, Jess, Lindsay, Noelle, Mandë, Carlos and Starlyn. Stay killer.

-Isaac Atif

 Starlyn, Chris, and Isaac at the end of the internship

Starlyn, Chris, and Isaac at the end of the internship