I enjoyed the absolute majority of the work placement, and while half of it was spent working remotely due to the pandemic, I made the most of working in the office while I was there and loved it. I worked on a wide range of projects so I was always outside of my comfort zone learning something new and this helped me develop my technical skills greatly. It's fair to say I've learned more working at Expedia than I have in my entire university course so far.
From the start of the placement, I was treated as a standard member of my team, there was no different treatment for me due to me being an intern. Everything that I worked on was part of the team's biweekly sprints. I also asked a lot of questions throughout my time in my role and every question was answered with patience and detail and I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge from the experience of my team members.
I felt really well supported by my manager, we'd have a weekly 1 to 1 where I was able to bring up and concerns or feedback I have with any work I've been assigned or with the placement in general. A few times where I'd felt overwhelmed I brought it up in these catchups and was able to address these issues so the majority of the time I'd finish the meeting feeling clearer and full of energy to continue my work.
Towards the beginning of the placement, I wasn't too busy as I was still learning the basics so a lot of work that was available wasn't too accessible to me. I was often pairing with a coworker on a piece of work until I became more confident a few months in to start working more independently. After this stage, I always had something to work on and was kept very busy on most of my days.
Everyone on my team had quite an even level of responsibility, there were a handful of projects that the more senior members of the team would break down as they'd require quite a lot of experience but there were still plenty of things I worked on that gave me a lot of responsibility. I was given the freedom to lead a couple of bits of work and I also took it upon myself to take responsibility at some points.
The skills that I have gained from my placement will be invaluable going forward when completing my final year and in my future career. I've improved a wide range of skills from analyzing a problem area and a series of logs to reproducing and debugging through a bug or unexpected behavior. These skills will be essential in my final year at university and certainly in my future career. I've also thoroughly developed my professional and social skills which will by no doubt prove useful for me in the future.
Ever since my initial assessment day at the office, I felt very relaxed and was able to just be myself and act naturally. This allowed me to perform at my best and the atmosphere was the same when I started the job. I'm always able to feel relaxed and this minimizes my stress and allows me to fully focus on my work without any distractions. I also didn't have to stay at my desk, there were other areas of the office that I could visit to get a change of scenery which helped keep me feeling refreshed.
From the beginning, the placement felt very well structured and there were plenty of socials set up to help me settle in and network with other interns that were either on a summer or a year-long placement. Throughout the placement, I felt supported and there were always opportunities to socialize with colleagues every month. I always had the impression that my year of work was well planned and well structured and as a result, it was very successful.
During my first few months, there were several training sessions set up that interns would attend for a variety of topics, AWS or Platform being examples of this. There's also an initiative set up where colleagues can volunteer to teach a course on a topic area that others would be interested in and I attended both a Python and a programming challenges workshop, both of which taught me something new. If there was ever a time I felt I wanted to learn about a particular technology or area, there were available resources to do so.
Working from home
The major downside to any job in London will be the living and socializing costs, as an intern living in London it's common for roughly half of your monthly salary to be spent on rent. Nights out can also become very expensive with pubs charging upwards of £5 for a pint. Personally I'm lucky enough to already be based with my family in the outskirts of London so I commuted every day to avoid the high costs of rent.
As would usually be expected when working in central London, there are plenty of bars and clubs close by to Angel or a short tube journey away. There are a couple of pubs and even a Wetherspoons near the London Expedia office that are favourites of the employees so there is always an option of a drink or two after work. In terms of nightlife, it doesn't get much better than working in central London.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
28th August 2020