Our Summer Internship Story

Our Summer Internship Story

Date: August 19, 2021 Author: Emin Beganović

What would you say to 15 weeks of internship in an IT company?

This wonderful opportunity to use the summer break for personal growth, skill development, and knowledge acquisition has come across two of our interns – Erdin Džakmić and Faris Hrvo!

What’s the perspective of final year students, whose first real encounter with programming outside the faculty environment is this internship, that’s still ongoing?

The feedback that we received throughout the discussion with our interns has given us valuable insight into the gap between faculty education and the requirements of the market, the benefits of the internship, as well as a perspective on staying, and building your future in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Further on, we’ve included their mentor, a Full Stack Developer, and Team Lead – Haris Starčević, into the discussion. 

A successful internship also depends on the mentor’s ability to suit the needs of the interns, and tailor the approach towards their progress, rather than doing it out of a pattern. 

So, let’s take you through the interview with our young protégés, and their mentor.

First up, the interns:

Erdin Džakmić, a student of the final year of the Faculty of Science in Sarajevo, Department of IT, shares with us his experience with programming throughout the different stages of education. From first meeting programming to doing an internship in an IT company to deepen his understanding of the industry, we asked him a couple of questions to round it off.

1. What was your first experience with programming?

My first experience with programming was back in high school. Until then the not-so-close and familiar area has attracted my attention and quickly became the focus of my interest. 

The beginning, as it usually is, was quite difficult and everything seemed impossible to grasp, but with time things became clearer. During the two years of programming in high school, I’ve realized which path I’d like to take, and then it was quite easy to choose which faculty I would enroll in. My next challenge was ahead, the Faculty of Science in Sarajevo, Department of IT, which I’m currently finishing.

At faculty, I’ve been exposed to a much larger picture of the concept of programming, as well as its basic concepts. Things quickly became a lot more interesting, since I began working on concrete projects which had a specified purpose – and those were the beginnings of my journey with programming.

2. Tell us more about your journey with Walter Code!

In the final year of my studies, it was mandatory to convey the industrial practice which was made possible through the Bit Alliance program, where each student is offered the opportunity to perform an internship in IT companies who work in areas of programming that the student chooses. I’ve chosen Web Development and Walter Code reached out to me.

Before the start of the internship, I was very excited because it was my very first internship and experience of working in a company. Through the research of Walter Code, I’ve realized that it was a successful, and serious company, where I could make progress and expand my knowledge obtained at faculty. Already at the first meeting with Nina Hasanbegović – the Head of Human Potential, Haris Starčević who would later become my mentor, I’ve gathered the feeling of acceptance at Walter Code. We’ve discussed my skills and knowledge related to programming, and I was introduced to the way the internship will be held. We’ve reached an agreement that I’ll be working in the web framework Laravel. 

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were forced to remote work which was quite impractical at the very start, but later on, turned out not to be a problem at all! We’ve set the standard of having weekly briefings with our mentor, where he examined our work and helped us with things still unclear to us. Besides that, we had the advantage of constantly being in contact with our mentor for help, or guidance towards the proper solution to a given problem. 

Through the very first weeks of the internship, I’ve noticed progress in my work and understanding of certain topics which were troublesome up until then. Thanks to the great work and approach of our mentor, Haris, I’ve learned many things and used this unique opportunity to develop my knowledge and programming skills. 

For the internship to not be fully remote, Walter Code invited us for an Office Day where we’ve had the chance to meet more colleagues and the work that Walter Code was doing. We’ve spent a certain amount of time discussing with our mentor the success of our internship up to that point, as well as plans. For me, it was one of the more interesting parts of the internship, as I’ve had the chance to feel the working atmosphere within the company. 

And lastly, I can safely say that I’m honored to have been allowed to do my internship at Walter Code, and I’m thankful to each individual who helped me make my practice as successful as possible.

3. What do you think about internships in general?

Internships are a unique way of comparing the knowledge gathered at faculty with the knowledge necessary to work on current projects and respond to the needs of the market. After graduating from faculty, a person only has the skills that are limited by the boundaries of faculty knowledge, which is more often than not outdated, and I find it to be insufficient to be able to work according to the latest standards, and on complicated projects within companies. 

In a way, internships are sort of a way of preparation for work on projects that surpass the difficulty of faculty projects. Above all, internships offer an opportunity for additional progress and expansion of obtained knowledge. Another rather important item of internships is the work experience gained, which is quite crucial for someone who didn’t have the opportunity to work in an IT company before.

After finishing the internship, a clearer image of the level of knowledge is created, which helps in comprehending whether or not you’re competent for work and whether further development is necessary to create work opportunities.

4. What will you remember most from your summer internship at Walter Code?

For me, the internship at Walter Code was a wonderful experience which I’ll remember by many wonderful things. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to do our work remotely, so we couldn’t quite grasp the atmosphere of working within such a large team. That is exactly the reason why my most memorable memory will be Office Day which was organized. 

It was a chance for us to meet the company’s culture, as well as its employees. After a few weeks of remote work, it was interesting to spend time in a working environment and work alongside our mentor, up close and personal. Yes, the online consultations which were held frequently were alright, but the experience of discussing problems in person was quite a lot better. These are just some of the reasons why I’d single out Office Day as one of the most memorable moments of my internship at Walter Code.

5. Do you have any advice for young people who are striving for a career in the IT world?

As for me, the most important thing is to maintain the same level of motivation and desire to achieve the set goals. There are a lot of people who give up on a career in the IT industry only because they’re demotivated by the initial failures, thinking they aren’t capable of it. I too have had moments when I was on the verge of quitting, and that all of it was too much for me.

The one thing that kept me going forward was the goal that I’ve set for myself – to become a programmer. The time a person spends waiting for a business opportunity should not be wasted, it should be used for further development of skills that might be useful within the given industry. 

It is crucial to have continuity in studying and practicing because that’s the only way of opening up to the possibility of progress and acquisition of knowledge with which one would be competent enough to land a job! Do not lose hope, because it all comes down to you, and if you have enough faith in your capabilities and have a clear, set goal, everything is possible.

6. Do you think that there’s a future for those who choose to stay in B&H?

Of course, there is, but a lot of people choose to go abroad because there’s a larger chance of success than here. It is a very difficult path for an individual to achieve their goals in this country, but it is not impossible to achieve success!

I believe that young people should stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus helping the development of the country, as well as creating a better future for the generations to come. Young people are the driving force that can change the current situation, which is far from perfect, but with enough will and motivation of our government, we could be looking at a future that would offer suitable conditions – enough to stop the “brain drain” that’s happening. 

Above all, I believe that those who have the knowledge, and will to work, have the opportunity and hope of reaching their goals even here in B&H, even at this point.

Dear Erdin, thank you for your detailed answers. It seems that you took the internship seriously – as it should be! It fills us with enthusiasm to see that young people, such as yourself, have an aspiration to reach great heights in the IT industry and set new standards for your peers. The advice you’ve shared seems quite helpful, as there are individuals who look for inspiration in examples similar to yours. And yes, we are very grateful that you found your internship at Walter Code exciting! 

To continue the story of internships and the experience of our interns, we turn towards Faris Hrvo. Faris is one of those people who don’t wait for opportunities to come to him. Instead, he looks for them along the road – by researching, and learning on his own. Let’s see what a proactive person such as Faris has to say about his experience during the internship at Walter Code.

1.What was your first experience with programming?

My first experience with programming started at the end of my primary school education. We’ve worked on the very basics in Qbasic in class and it was enough to spark my interest and motivate me to explore more on my own. I got very intrigued with programming, and enrolled in a high school, and later on a faculty related to programming. 

I fell in love with programming and chose it to be my career path.

2. Tell us more about your journey with Walter Code!

Before all else, I would like to mention our mentor – Haris Starčević, who I value for his will to transfer his knowledge and tutor us. The entire experience with Walter Code has been quite enjoyable. I have learned new things, I experienced practical examples of using the theoretical knowledge that I already possessed. 

It surely is a wonderful experience that I’ll remember for a long time!

3. What do you think about internships in general?

In the case that the internship is interactive, it’s a very useful way to learn a lot. It’s not the same to watch a video, read a tutorial, and try to do something on your own during the internship. 

It is also quite a lot easier when there is a mentor who aids you in the journey to knowledge that is useful and required. Also, I believe that it’s very important that the internship is done in a friendly environment, without the constant pressure that something simply must be done. 

An internship should be a connection between learning something new and using things already learned.

4. What will you remember most from your summer internship at Walter Code?

A lot of things. Firstly, the very lovely and friendly relationship that we’ve built with our mentor Haris, from the very beginning. Even though he is invested in teaching us, he’s probably more invested in building a great relationship, as it is a foundation that makes anything else quite a lot easier. 

I’ll also have very fond memories of the visit to Walter Code, as well as the hospitality that they’ve shown throughout our internship.

5. Do you have any advice for young people who are striving for a career in the IT world?

Be persistent and work on yourself – that’s my first piece of advice. If you want to join the IT world, you are free to choose an area of it, and a programming language that suits you the most. After the choice has been made, it’s all about trying your best to become very good in that particular field. Specialization is the key I would say. 

Without a lot of effort, and a lot of lines of “bugs” fixed, there’s no success in programming.

6. Do you think that there’s a future for those who choose to stay in B&H?

 I believe that there’s a future for each individual willing to work and make progress at their job. Doing research and always increasing your will to work gives you a greater chance of success. There are a lot of opportunities for people who are out there looking for challenges to beat, rather than waiting for luck to strike them.

Especially in the IT industry, which sort of removes the boundaries of actually being in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through international projects that know no border.

Dear Faris, we hope that the example you’ve set can be a guide for other young potentials looking to start their career in the IT industry. At the same time, we’re extremely thankful for the words of praise towards Haris, your mentor. It seems like you’ve built a wonderful connection in the meantime, as well! 

Quite honestly, the enthusiasm that Erdin and Faris have shown throughout their internship makes us feel incredibly fulfilled in the task to open up the IT world to others and make it more accessible. It isn’t the first case of tutoring interns, but it’s another confirmation of the importance of it – pushing us forward in our efforts to share knowledge.

As for the final part of this blog post, and the interview, we went ahead and asked the mentor of the internship, Haris Starčević, a couple of questions. 

1. What was your first reaction to being chosen as a mentor for our interns? 

As for my first reaction, I felt incredibly honored to be chosen as the individual to mentor others, since I’ve been indicated trust, and later a concern of whether or not I’ll be able to do it in the best way possible since it is a responsibility in itself.

2. What’s your approach when thinking about the program and duties of interns?

We’ve organized it in a way that most of the liability stands with the interns and working on the task at hand. It wasn’t in our goal to have the mentor talk and explain without the interns going into the actual “challenges” because there are a lot of online courses where the student gets the idea that they understand it all, only to later find out they don’t have a clue about the right approach. 

That’s why I believe the approach “to be thrown in on the deep end” towards our interns was the one to go with. Even through my past experience of helping other colleagues, I always gave away only half of the answer, to have the interlocutor involved in finding the solution.

3. How happy are you with the development of the interns?

Throughout my career, I’ve always been at the disposal of my colleagues when it comes to sharing my humble knowledge, and it makes me very happy to be able to help someone else since knowledge is one of those things which is multiplied when shared. That is what I can give to our IT community. It brings me great joy to see the interns grasp certain topics as we go through them, and that “aha” moment is always quite satisfying to see.

4. Do you think that internships are valuable experiences?

The developer journey that I’ve been on has been slightly more difficult from the start since I’ve never had mentors in the form of internships or the luck to start my career in an atmosphere where asking questions is emphasized. In a way, I grew on my own. For example, I had to spend a lot of time understanding the code of simple operations/functions, on my own – which is far from the most efficient way of learning new things. 

My personal experience largely goes to show that internships are generally very important, and quite successful in acquiring new knowledge, should the mentor and the interns find a common language and achieve the goals of the internship.

5. Would you consider mentoring interns again, what have you learned from it?

This job is something that I love, and when you love something, you give a 100% and more to it. As I mentioned earlier I’ve always been thrilled to share my knowledge with colleagues and to transfer my experience to young individuals, unexplored potentials, which goes exactly along that ideology. I would be excited to do it again!

At the same time, I have learned a lot about the importance of the mentor role. Your approach to teaching can play a vital role in someone else’s career, and to do it uninvolved is worse than not doing it at all. It takes passion and it takes commitment.

6. Do you have any advice for young people who are striving for a career in the IT world?

If you have affinities towards this type of work, you should try hard and give it your all since the IT world is the future, and is closely bound to each segment of our life. You have so many examples of applications that we, programmers, make for various industries.

Learn, try hard, do research, ask questions – and most importantly, never give up on your goal!

Incredibly valuable advice, Haris – thank you. Having heard various perspectives on this summer internship, we can safely say that it’s been a successful one. To hear the words of praise going both ways surely confirms the achievement of this Summer Internship. We hope that you continue your never-ending struggle to share your knowledge and assist others by doing so.

Overall, we are happy that these two young, talented individuals, received the opportunity to do their internship at Walter Code. It brings us great joy to be a company that offers chances for development through internships, mentorships, scholarships, and initiatives alike.

Dear interns, we wish you a lot of luck in your future endeavors, and we hope you retain the praise-worthy habits that have made you such great examples of how hard work and dedication come with their own rewards.