Q: Introduce yourself!

A: I am a recent graduate (Class of 2016) from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) majoring in Information Systems.

Q: What made you decide to intern with Tinkerbox?

A: I interned with Tinkerbox out of sheer curiosity when I was a Junior Year student. With only one year of programming experience in Python and Java, I was unsure then whether I could get hired at all or not. Even when I had been accepted, there were doubts from people around me. Many questioned my decision to join a local startup for a summer internship, telling me that interning in an MNC will probably guarantee me a brighter future and the small size of local startups can limit my learning and experience. However, I decided to find out for myself and took the leap of faith. Through experience, I can say that I did not regret it.

 

Q: Tell me more about your internship experience with Tinkerbox!

A: The first two weeks of internship was an onboarding period for all interns, where we were exposed to the industry best practices Tinkerbox practiced. There were only 9 interns and since all of us came in from different programming backgrounds and had no prior experience with Ruby on Rails, we spent almost everyday learning from the comprehensive resources Tinkerbox provided. Be it physical textbooks or online courses from Codeschool and Onemonth, I was encouraged to make full use of the resources available so that my foundation would be strong enough before I undertook an existing project together with the full-time developers. 

Tinkerbox believes in continuous learning right from the start. I like the company culture to actively share one’s learning or challenges with one another. This removes the top-down approach many industries are still practicing today. Platforms like TinkerThursday and LunchTalk are also organised on a regular basis to spark new interests and discussions. We, interns, also took turns to be the speakers and I would say it is really encouraging when you have a company that cares about your interests other than just work.

As I got too comfortable with the learning materials, I was then asked whether or not I was ready to take the challenge to another level by joining one of the existing client projects. Deep inside my heart, I did not know whether or not I was ready. What if there were concepts I am still weak in? What if I was not good enough? There were so many what-ifs that were hindering me at the start but I came across this quote that totally changed my perspectives.

“The only way to be ready for anything is to be ready for anything.”

- The Organic Prepper

Mistakes are parts and parcel of learning and you can never be good enough for anything in life. It is all in our mind whether we think ourselves as good or bad and everyone has their own varying expectations and standards. So, instead of worrying how painful you might fall and injure yourself, I decided to let go of all the negativities and enjoy the journey. Anyway, you can only get better from all the mistakes you learn right? So there I was, with my new team the next day, ready to start tinkering.

Pair programming
Kris and I pair programming

 

Q: How was your experience with the new team?

A: It was great and I learnt a lot from them. There were 6 of us in the team including Jaryl (the founder) himself, three other full-stack developers and two interns (Kia Yong and me). Our project is about building an all-in-one stop solution for an online commerce in the simplest and most effective way possible. I had the opportunity to experience how it feels like to be a full-stack developer, which means I learnt skills ranging from front-end (like HTML, CSS, Javascript) to back-end programming (like third-party integration with Braintree and Ruby on Rails). All happening simultaneously. It is unlike school where subjects are taught in an orderly manner. We are responsible for managing our own learning here in Tinkerbox, especially with the help of many passionate developers who are experts in their own field, the impossible is made possible.

Tasks were delegated on a daily basis and as interns, it could be quite intimidating when faced by the steep learning curve and the complexity of the project does not make it any easier. Well, that is exactly what motivated me to keep learning. I want to live each day as if I had accomplished something or learnt something new at least.

I could still remember the nights where our team worked even after office hours to meet the clients’ and our own expectations, and there was once when Jaryl, Kia Yong and I camped over Starbucks to do more coding and got fresh air out of the office. And yeah, all these were done voluntarily. We were inspired by how committed the other team members were, and we, as interns, wanted to give our best for this product that we had been a part of as well. 

 

Q: What’s your favourite part of the Tinkerbox culture?

A: What I’ve said previously may make Tinkerbox sound like an all work and no play workplace, but it is just the opposite. On a daily basis we religiously had Fika (which means coffee break in Swedish) where everyone is encouraged to take a break from coding and have some fun playing games or simply stuffing their stomach with snacks and beverages (like milk, juice and coffee) from the pantry.

Fancy a game of Uno?
Our own UNO experts!

The relatively small size of the company allows more interaction between its employees and that is what made us very bonded as a team. So much so, some of us hung out on weekends to play basketball together or to watch new-released movies in the cinema after work. It was nice to be able to get our work done, learn, and still have fun at the same time.

Tinkerbox outing to the trampoline park

Q: What final words do you have for our future interns or prospective interns?

A: Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. Be willing to experience things for yourself instead of blindly following the crowd, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn when you take the path less traveled.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Hellen Keller