by: Mehek Gosalia, TechChange Tech Micro-intern
A one month internship is not a common thing to do, I’m told. Just one of the many weird and wonderful quirks of MIT: every year, we take January to explore education outside of class, whether through study abroad, research, specialized courses or micro internships. I got the chance to work at TechChange just for the month, as a software engineering intern. As I found, my unusually short internship was unusually rewarding, because TechChange, too, is weird and wonderful.
What makes it weird? Within a technical team of just 4, plus me and my fellow intern, we spanned 4 time zones at any given time. Our daily meetings were midday for some, wake-up calls for me, and burning the midnight oil for others. And instead of coding side by side, we seemed to switch off, PRs and commits coming in at every hour from every corner of the world. Because of this, I spend much of my internship getting to explore the codebase on my own, peeling back layers of files and discovering how much the platform truly had to offer. I also got to work in multiple areas of the codebase, working full stack to implement a new bookmark feature independently. This was my first ever 9 to 5, and yet with the freedom and flexibility I had, I rarely woke up at 9 or put away my laptop at 5. The lack of one set routine could have been demotivating- for us, it was energizing. It was weird, but it worked.
What makes it wonderful? Somehow, with just a 30 minute daily meeting with my team, continents and oceans between us, the technical team quickly became a family. Honestly, the flexibility and radical differences in our schedules actually created a unique dynamic. Instead of a rigid work structure followed by off time, we got to see each other living our lives. We shared our days, without distinction between work life and our lives- kids at home played off camera, I told them about my classes next month and they told me about the trip they were on to see their family. We pair programmed over Zoom between one lunch break and another, and there was always time for helping each other, even across time zones. When you can bring your life into your workplace, without rigid hours, it breathes life into the workplace. Truly wonderful.
I had four weeks at TechChange. Four weird, wonderful weeks made possible by my weird, wonderful school. I learned many things, but mostly, I learned about people. I learned about the people who work at TechChange, and who they were, and what a pleasure they were to work with. To me, being able to know them, after such a short time, is a career triumph beyond any technical skills gained. For that, thank you TechChange!