In Part Seven of our #LifeofanIntern series, we interview Nikunj Jain, former software development intern at Apple, which has one of the most coveted and competitive internship programs in the world. Read on to learn about his 3-month experience at his face-paced tech internship.
Hi Nikunj, we’re excited to hear about your experience at Apple! How did you land your internship?
I connected with the company multiple times through the on-campus job fair, their on-campus networking events, and their tech talks. When I met with the team and the people during the interview process, I appreciated the technical work proposed as well the project I was being hired to work on, and that was the most important factor in my decision.
Describe a unique experience your internship has provided you.
The exposure to the vast reservoirs of data present within Apple, as well as learning to work with the internal systems and architecture was a phenomenal experience. The level of divergence of real life software and design structures from the theoretical and constructed toy examples presented in classes and schoolwork was humbling, and realizing that knowing the theory was just as important as having worked with these gigantic, real-world datasets and systems. I believe such exposure is only possible at a firm which operates on the level of a massive tech-industry leader, and this was a unique characteristic of my internship.
What was the top thing you learned during your internship?
The ability to work with a team in which the members come from a variety of age-ranges, as well as differing technical backgrounds is something new I have developed. In college, it is a bubble-like environment where everybody working on class projects in a team is usually of the same age-bracket, and similar technical proficiencies. Having to work with people of such differing levels of experiences, and absorbing all their styles of working can be both challenging and vastly rewarding.
Describe a typical day at Apple.
I usually got to the office by 9AM, and spent some time interacting with my mentor and my partner to get them up to speed in detail with my daily progress. Next, I’d attend the daily scrum with the entire team of 7-8 people for quick updates. Then, I’d spend 4-6 hours writing, editing, deleting, re-writing, debugging and developing code and spend the end of day making sure that the day's commits and edits did not break the testing framework. Once a week, there was also a speaker series event, and I would make it a point to go to those, and occasionally attend other networking mixers/events as well.
How did your intern manager make your internship experience better?
My intern manager kept weekly meetings, as well as encouraged a daily stand-up like procedure to keep the team updated on my progress. He proactively ensured that I had all the logistical and technical help required to remove all roadblocks, and paired me up with a "mentor" who would check in and help resolve issues.
Why do you think internships are important?
Having spent all of my time in research and academia before this internship, I experienced a humbling and enlightening view of the tech industry through working at Apple. Internships provide the invaluable opportunity to work in a no-guard-rails environment while still maintaining a partial safety net. This often provides the context and exposure necessary to learn your strengths and weaknesses, as you are exposed to "true risk" for the first time outside of school. Internships also provide the ability to connect and network with people who have worked in the industry for many years in a much closer setting as compared to conferences/events/talks, and this allows you a more holistic view of the world as seen through somebody else's eyes.
What advice would you give to future interns?
It was very, very helpful for me to go to all the internal speaker series events, as well as the company wide networking and socializing events during my internship. Meeting people working across departments and projects provided great exposure to the company culture as a whole, and absorbing all the work done cross-functionally at Apple was a one of the best parts about the experience. I would advise future interns to absolutely make the best use of this opportunity, and spend as much time at their desks and cubicles as they do exploring the rest of the company.
By Ellen Zhang