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Life of a High School SWE Intern at Hootsuite

written August 30, 2019 // 886 words

(with insights from Calvin and Hobbes)

Since I’ve started at Hootsuite, I have

  • added and/or changed 6223 lines of code in 16 different repos

  • closed 24 tickets

  • made 4 new Slack emotes

  • listened to almost 10,000 minutes of lofi

  • had 1 amazing summer at Hootsuite

Including the amount of money I’ve spent on lunch this past summer, everything has been so much more than I expected it to be. This short but sweet experience is something that I definitely will remember for a very long time.

October 18th, 2015October 18th, 2015

Over these short 8 weeks, I’ve learned a lot. Everything at Hootsuite has served to be a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity, from learning to build complex services in languages that I’ve never even heard to doing technical demos in front of the entire Product Development team. Despite being a ‘software development’ position, I found myself learning to be a better technical communicator, to have better personal confidence, and so much more.

Yet among everything, two big lessons stood out to me:

The balance of life and work

People often say how elusive good work-life balance is, even to the point of saying that it doesn’t exist. Yet, at my 2 months here at Hootsuite, I can positively say that it is alive and well. We’ve hiked almost 44km across 4 different trails in BC, attended music festivals, and even found niche groups for those interested in bouldering. At the office, there is no shortage of Slack memes and free birthday cake either. On a more serious note, the managers and leads here care deeply about their team members and go out of their way to ensure not only their well-being but also their development as a person.

Mount Seymour Trail Hike with the team!Mount Seymour Trail Hike with the team!

This was a big change from high school where a day at school left me completely drained and just ready to crash. Everything was so focused on grinding for results and doing work that it was hard to make time for myself. At Hootsuite, the community made it feel easy and natural to find the balance that worked for me.

I was still working 8 hours a day, but somehow I felt energized and ready for more each day. It motivated me to make time to take on a freelance web development job just for practice (and to pay rent — living in Vancouver is rough) and even to make a simple project for a friend’s birthday (wholesome-bot.xyz)!

I know that this has probably been repeated countless times already, but I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you’re taking enough time off to relax.

Don’t reject yourself before other people get the chance to

December 27th, 1985December 27th, 1985

Becomes sometimes, you just gotta go for it. You probably shouldn’t be going around and ruining nice coffee tables, but it works as a metaphor I guess? The point is: take necessary risks. Don’t say “nah, that’s not possible” before someone else tells you it is. At the start of summer, if someone told me I was going to be doing a demo on a proposal for a massive re-architecture of one of Hootsuite’s core services, I would have told you that you were insane. Yet here I am, doing just that:

If your brain is anything like mine, you often get these nagging self-doubts about whether you’re capable of doing something. The first time I was assigned to help define Service Level Objectives (SLOs) for some of Hootsuite’s core services, I was shocked.

They’re letting a high schooler do this? How am I even close to being qualified?

Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I took it. But as I began work, it became clear that I was the biggest critic in the room. They wouldn’t have asked me to do it if they didn’t trust me to do it and to do it well. Moving forward, I tried to trust myself more and to put myself out there, eventually taking on projects that I never thought would’ve been possible:

  • Designing prototype service meshes

  • Adding endpoints and writing scripts to cleanup user data

  • And other crazy things that I probably can’t publicly disclose

If an opportunity presents itself, jump on it! You don’t know where it might take you.

It’s really hard to put in words how much I’ve learned from the Owls here at Hootsuite. To the Owls: hopefully I’ve added something of value to all of you too.

  • Thanks to my manager and team lead Imtiaz and Shaun for being absolutely amazing in supporting my whole journey from start to finish.

  • Thanks to our team — team Golden Hammer — for helping me realize that yes, work can still be done while having fun. (:harold:)

  • Thanks to the co-ops (most notably Kevin, Andy, and Albert) for being so welcoming and having such a wholesome community.

  • Thanks to the other high school interns (Chloe, Kai, and Scarlet) for making sure that I wasn’t the only high school student that was being made fun of at board game night.

And finally, thanks to Hootsuite for showing this little owl the world!

Hootsuite has changed my attitude on how I see the world and it’s beautifully captured in one quote from Waterson —

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy … let’s go exploring!”