Navigating My Internship: Matthew Byrne
Stepping into your first internship often requires bravery, determination and open-mindedness. Lucky for us, that was exactly how Matthew Byrne approached his 6 month rotational internship in the Guidewire Basecamp program. In his blog, Matthew shares the exciting challenges and learnings he gained from his Software Engineering Internship at the Guidewire's EMEA HQ in Dublin, Ireland.
I'm Matthew, I was a Software Engineer Intern in the Dublin office for the six month rotational program.
The Opportunity To Make An Impact
When I was exploring internship opportunities, Guidewire stood out to me for several reasons. Firstly, I was drawn to the company's reputation as a leading software provider for insurance companies. The opportunity to work in a domain that impacts people's lives and plays a critical role in the business world excited me. Secondly, Guidewire's commitment to innovating aligned with my passion for staying at the forefront of the software industry. My goal was to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, which Guidewire allowed me to do through the breadth of the rotational program. I would be able to apply the skills I previously obtained in my studies. In retrospect, my expectations were blown out of the water.
A Culture of Collegiality
One of the things I have not shut up about during my time here has been how much I love the company culture and the overall work environment. It's innovative, supportive, customer-centric, fun and creative culture makes up only a small percentage of what makes it such a fantastic company. My colleagues, office events, Guidewire Gives Back events, AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions with executives, just to name a few, make it so easy to enjoy my day-to-day work. Guidewire also offers ample opportunities for career growth and learning, while its strong commitment to its vision and values aligns with my own goals and objectives.
From Professional Services to Product Development and Operations
My day to day differed from my time in Professional Services and Product Development and Operations.
The first three months of my internship were spent in Professional Services (PS), where the team consisted of myself and the seven other interns. We all worked on the same project together, which we were able to build from the ground up with huge support from our managers and mentors. This application was designed to efficiently delegate work to employees and track various statistics and progress. Working on this project allowed us to streamline staffing processes and enhance productivity within the company. It was a rewarding experience to contribute to the development of this application. I was able to develop my front-end skills while also dabbling in some back-end work with my team. During this project, I had to learn React from scratch, which has been a valuable skill, and holds a role in the side of computing that I very much enjoy. Aspects that attract me to Professional Services would've been: Client communication, quality assurance, user training and support.
In Product Development and Operations (PDO), the interns were assigned new teams for our remaining time at Guidewire. At first, this felt daunting as we had been together from the start, but in the end, it actually helped us all so much. It meant we could step out of our comfort zones and not rely on each other for help in our tasks. My team in PDO was absolutely fantastic. Our job was to upgrade what was once an On-prem right-hand side product to a Left-hand side cloud solution for a customer. At the beginning, I was definitely out of my depth. However, my team helped me develop my skills all throughout my time with them, in tasks such as bug fixing, research, troubleshooting and testing. I was also able to develop my back-end skills to a much more advanced degree than I previously had. This project allowed me to see the vastness of an application in the industry, and how much work goes into building Guidewire's applications. Aspects that attract me to Product Development would've been: Software development, testing and debugging, problem solving and collaboration.
I absolutely loved my time in both PS and PDO. I was able to play to my strengths in Professional Services as I had plenty of front end experience from college. While I didn't experience much consultant work being an intern, I believe I would be playing to my strengths in a consultant role, as I would consider myself a people person. While in Product Development and Operations, I had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and dive deep into a more back-end role. This was definitely a challenge for me as I began working with new tools and technology, but I very quickly learned to love it.
So regarding which path I would like to pursue next, I have no idea as of now. While playing to your strengths is a smart move and can be extremely beneficial, I do really enjoy the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone and diving into the deep end.
Standing Together to Navigate Complexity
Any time I ran into issues I could not solve myself or had no experience with, my team would help me not only solve the issue, but make sure I understood what was going on. My mentors spent a lot of time with me breaking down complex topics into simpler analogies or whiteboard drawings, and my managers always took time to support me in any way, and to ensure I was not overwhelmed with my workload.
I really enjoyed taking part in the hackathon. This was my first professional hackathon experience. The other interns and I decided to go into the hackathon not as a group but in randomly assigned teams, so we could mingle with others in the company and expand our networks. I was assigned to a team called the Coding Avocados. Together, we developed an application called SkillPath, an app designed to take each employees goals or 'VPMOM' to a new level. VPMOM is an acronym that stands for Vision, Purpose, Mission, Objectives, and Measures. It is a framework used at Guidewire in strategic planning and goal-setting to provide clarity and direction to individuals or organizations. As it stands, VPMOM is created in a personal document that users can return to and edit/view progress they made on their planning. From feedback we received from employees and managers, it was not being used to its full potential, hence our idea to make it more interactive.
The best part- we tied for first place with our idea! We all received a voucher for our participation and congratulations from everyone in attendance. It also attracted attention from other colleagues, who asked us to demo to them once again, which we did. And it eventually got passed on to our CEO Mike Rosenbaum, who soon after visited our Dublin headquarters and requested that we showcase our idea to him. He also loved it! There has been interest in building our application, and I wish my hackathon team the best of luck revisiting SkillPath in future, as I will be back in college for my final year during that time.
Highlights And Learnings From Your Internship
Every Friday, for the first three months, the interns and myself had the pleasure of meeting with the other interns all the way in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. Each week, we would catch up, discuss tasks/events we would be taking part in and usually ended with us playing some fun games such as Scribbl.io, a game similar to Pictionary. I really enjoyed these meetings and hope the KL interns are getting on great!
My favorite thing about my role particularly has been the work environment and culture. As an intern, I lack industry experience, and applying skills I have only ever used in a college setting was a difficult challenge. At Guidewire, this was no hurdle, as everybody is so kind and helpful. Everybody wants to see each other succeed. This is exactly what makes working here such an absolute pleasure.
Agile and Scrum methodologies were huge parts of my time at Guidewire. These became embedded in my daily stand-ups, sprints and demos. I learned a lot about how projects work in the industry, and how our projects rely on these methodologies for iterative and collaborative project management, promoting flexibility, continuous improvement, and delivering value to stakeholders in software development and various other industries.
I am very happy with the development in my skills, mainly in testing and Git. In college, we have always been pushed to test, test, test, but when working on such small applications, with one repository, all done by yourself, testing seems redundant. However, now that I have had the chance to work on an industry-wide project in PDO, I completely understand how important testing is. I learned different methods for testing, how to deal with bugs that arise and so much more. Git always scared me- with the push of button, you can nuke a repository, just like that. With the help from mentors, it got easier and easier for me to understand. A refresher course was also held for the interns which helped me tremendously.
Advice For Future Guidewire Basecamp Interns
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! I cannot stress this enough. When I started my internship, all I wanted was to figure everything out on my own. I thought this would help me stand out and appear more competent. However, this is a silly way of thinking. Starting in a new role or company requires time to adjust, and asking questions is a natural part of the learning process. Don't look at asking questions as some sign of weakness, but more a sign of interest and an attempt at understanding a topic you aren't 100% comfortable with. Seeking help from experienced colleagues can save hours of effort and expedite your progress. Embrace the opportunity to learn from others, even as you take initiative in your work.
Are you a recent graduate or currently studying Computer Science? Navigate what's next with Guidewire Basecamp- Check out our current open roles for software engineer internships and graduate positions HERE.