Monday, August 27, 2007

Internship

Re-reading an essay, "The Power of Marginal" by Paul Graham and he says it all quite well (what else do you expect).

"just try hacking something together."
Hacking something together means deciding what to do as you're doing it, not a subordinate executing the vision of his boss. It implies the result won't be pretty, because it will be made quickly out of inadequate materials. It may work, but it won't be the sort of thing the eminent would want to put their name on. Something hacked together means something that barely solves the problem, or maybe doesn't solve the problem at all, but another you discovered en route. But that's ok, because the main value of that initial version is not the thing itself, but what it leads to.
We said the same exact words to two interns this summer. They had about three months to spare and we wanted to experiment to see how internships will fare at Indygo. So this year we opened the floor up, asked students to apply and selected couple of real bright ones. The goal was to define a problem, and build a workable prototype that solves it within three months.

What we learnt was quite refreshing.
  1. The interns were very resourceful and attacked the problem quite well. They didnot have much experience prior to this in anything remotely similar, but could successfully complete what they had taken up.
  2. Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm and the willingness to try.
  3. Mentoring of interns (students) is different from mentoring developers. One has to take a more detailed hands-on approach.
  4. Estimation is quite a difficult game in projects which depend heavily on R&D however experienced you are. This shouldn't be mentioned here since its almost redundant. We relearned this.
  5. Don't expect production ready stuff. Its just a prototype.
If I have missed some points, please add it as comments.

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