Catching the Bug
My name is Drey Gerger. I’m a rising senior studying Computer Science at UC Berkeley. I’ve spent my summer working as the Quicken Cloud Services (QCS) intern. To briefly describe what I do here, I use various tools to deploy backend services that support customer-facing applications.
A little bit about my journey: three years ago, I’d never written a line of code. Like most of my high school friends, the plan had always been to go to college and study business. At Berkeley, I took a chance on a computer science class and immediately fell in love with the logic. The more I learned fundamental computer science ideas, the more I appreciated how clever the field truly is.
Until this summer, that’s all computer science ever was to me–clever ideas. That was of course until I started my internship at Quicken. For the first time, I’m seeing the difference between computer science and software engineering. These clever ideas have turned into tools that can be used to build anything, it’s just a function of time. I attribute the shift in my mentality to the Quicken company culture and the incredibly bright engineers I work with. You could say, I’ve caught the bug.
Quicken is a unique company. It stays small, though it casually has millions of users and has been around for decades. Quicken has the resources of a large company with the leanness and culture of a startup. What that means is that every employee, even the interns, play a vital role. Not just that each employee has a lot of responsibility, each employee takes ownership over the work they are doing. This sort of company philosophy and the idea of taking mental ownership is something that resonates with me. My manager gives me a microservice to build, now it’s my job to create that small aspect of Quicken and put my name on it.
Climbing the QCS learning curve was frustrating at first. I didn’t know the difference with how we used Maven versus Gradle let alone what they were in the first place. Docker, Spring Boot, AWS, Jenkins, all new things I’d never been exposed to. On the other hand, I was using open source tools that are well documented. Even more importantly, I was given a mentor who, on my first day, literally gave me two of his monitors so that there would not be a wall between us (thanks again Royce).
I don’t think my experience is that special, at least for a Quicken intern. Quicken is the sort of company that invests in people and values learning. The best way to learn is by doing, and there are plenty of things to be done at Quicken. Aside from my own project work, I’m able to help on other services and solve problems side by side with other engineers. Even though I’m closing tickets for the Cloud team, I don’t feel like “Cloud Engineer” is an accurate job title. In the last month alone, I’ve learned from senior staff about business strategy, accounting, and marketing. I’ve worked on front end fixes, had a brainstorm with the CEO about a side project, designed intern t-shirts, and even rode a mechanical bull. This is all on top of my normal project work, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I get to spend the summer learning in breadth and depth. What a place to grow.