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Dear Future, I’m Ready

4 min read

Meet Kipras, our youngest member of the techies’ fam. While still being a high school student, he spent his summer as an intern here at Tesonet, learning and already taking the tech world by storm. The burning desire and curiosity to understand how and why particular things work were one of the driving factors that lead him to become a junior software developer. And as today Kipras Melnikovas is back at high school preparing for his final exams, in this blog post he shares his insights on the internship, why age doesn’t matter, and how to break into the tech industry.

Please introduce yourself. Have you always shared a passion for the IT industry? 

Ever since I remember I was interested in computers, tech, and nerdy things in general. The defining moment happened in my junior years when I was transferring to another high school. I encountered a programming club there and without hesitation, I joined it immediately. As I started writing down some code from the projector, I didn’t understand anything yet, but boy was it fun pressing “Build and run” and seeing the first-ever program — the message “Hello World!”. From that day on, my passion for programming grew immensely – first diving deep into the lands of C++, and later switching my specialization to web development.

Great! Tell us about your role. Do software developers drink coffee and type on the keyboard all day?

Absolutely not! Our typical day consists of a team’s stand-up to help each other out, drinking coffee and typing on the keyboard, eating ice cream, communicating with other stakeholders (such as designers, backend engineers, project managers, and other fellas), sprint planning, and occasional meetings. Most importantly, though – posting and reviewing top quality memes on Slack!

Can you tell us about some cool things you’ve worked on?

At the job directly – NDA, but in my free time – yes!

During my internship at Tesonet, I saw an opportunity to improve my co-workers’ workflow for the tool we were using – GitLab – and so I made a browser extension with some useful features. Also, at the end of my previous internship at a small startup company, I started building a web app that basically scraped our school’s students’ schedules, did some cool stuff with them, and then displayed it all in a better format on my own mobile-first website.

None of those were required, and you’re not expected to do anything like this – I just so happened to have some free time, but not all of us do, and it’s fine.

Kipras & friends hacking things up at a student-organized workshop

In your experience, what is specific about working at Tesonet?

All the knowledge sharing culture, for sure. I’ve really enjoyed my team and the people I’ve worked with generally – I think it’s a big part of why I had such a great experience. There weren’t really any downsides – not that I can think of. Perhaps because it was just the first few months/the honeymoon of mine.

Are there any differences between working at a small startup and a big tech company?

There are quite a few. Most notably, bigger companies tend to have more resources to provide mentorship & support to get you up to speed and beyond. It indeed was the case for me. The projects, their scale, team sizes, and just the general vibe itself also differ. Although I myself preferred the latter, I’d recommend seeing for yourself.

What makes an internship successful?

Ask your manager [smiles]. For me, it was living up to the expectations, being able to do what I said I can do (don’t lie on your resume!), bringing in some fresh wind into the team (have you ever heard about “lean coffee”, bi-weekly knowledge sharing sessions and browser extensions?), having fun and ultimately getting a return offer.

Do you think that your age plays a role in this process?

Perhaps, but not by a long shot. I think that anyone can succeed if they put in the work, get good at their craft, and show high potential and/or already provide value. Depending on your stage in life, the number of responsibilities & thus the amount of spare time for learning and practicing you’ll have will differ, and it can surely be easier or harder. But it’s definitely not impossible.

How does one start a career in this field?

Actually, there’re so many options and the task here is to find the one that suits you individually. You can go to a college or university, a boot camp, or take the self-taught route. Each has its trade-offs, thus, as always, make sure to do your research. I myself am self-taught. YouTube, Google, and StackOverflow are best friends, in any case.

There are these things called “programming languages” – developers use them to write software. Pick one and learn it well – which one you choose doesn’t matter (currently, I’d recommend trying both JavaScript and Python and seeing which one you like better and/or which one better fits the projects you want to build).

One of the best teachers for me when starting out was Brad Traversy – check his videos out for a good starting point, though feel free to explore other creators too. Practice, practice, practice, and eventually start looking for opportunities.

Kipras with teammates before presenting at the HackerGames 2018 hackathon

And finally, do you think it’s healthy to compare yourself to others?

I don’t think it’s healthy at all! Everyone’s got their own pace. It’s not about being better than others – it’s about you being better today than you were yesterday. And if you think it’s “too late” for you to start – remember that “The best time to start was 10 years ago. The second best time is now.”

That’s about it! This blog post featured our junior software developer – you can catch him at all socials by the name of @kiprasmel (be it LinkedIn, Github or Twitter), he’s more than happy to chat and share ideas.