The Things That Can't be Taught in School by Premila Rowles
My name is Premila and I’m working with the QA team here at Quicken. I’m a rising sophomore at MIT studying electrical engineering and computer science. I love it at Quicken; my mentor and the team I work with are awesome and I’m learning new things every day. As of my fifth week, I’m working on projects with the QA team, with our CEO Eric Dunn, and with the other interns on our innovation project, a Quicken Apple Watch app. I’ve made great friends with the other interns and with other co-workers; a few of us decided to take up surfing for the summer, and on the weekends we have outings to either Santa Cruz or Half Moon Bay. We discovered we can be productive when we go out, so we occasionally have our Apple Watch app meetings at Philz Coffee. Nothing beats talking about app development with an iced mint mojito to sip on in downtown San Mateo mid-summer!
One of the numerous things I have learned is the importance of being able to figure things out on my own. In school, often times you can find answers from a TA, the textbook, or the internet. But when you’re working at a company that’s growing and developing new technology, you have to be creative and keep the goals of the project in mind; it’s not just another assignment to check off like in school. It sounds like sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, can be boring and painful - and it can be - but not if you’re learning and doing something challenging and innovative (and not if you take snack breaks). Learning all the tools used to perform testing requires that I am diligent and work smart. I have to do a lot of trial and error to figure things out and know when to ask the right questions. I can tell my abilities to work through and solve problems on my own are improving every day. I’m learning useful tools like Fitnesse, Postman, Charles, and IntelliJ, as well as applying these tools to actual Quicken websites. I discover things on my own and use my skills to help Quicken provide a great service to its customers, something I never had the time or resources to do in school. MIT has taught me great skills in how to solve complex problems, and now Quicken has provided me great grounds to apply these skills. Working here provides me with a glimpse of the future and I am excited to continue the discovery process.
Another key take-away from this summer: I learned the importance of testing and perfecting a product/service. While working with the QA team, I discovered that even one little bug could take down the whole system! My mentors helped me understand this concept, but I really learned it by experiencing the testing process. While working with Eric on his growth of the 10k feature, I familiarized myself with different kinds of investments and how stocks work, which is something I really enjoyed. Again, with this feature I had to test every possible case and make sure every piece of data as well as the graphs were accurate. If there was a single number wrong anywhere, and even if it seemed negligible, it had the potential to corrupt other parts of the feature. These are skills that cannot be learned in school; product development is a whole ‘nother line of work. Development includes designing, writing the code and then testing it, which could take longer than the first two steps combined. I never knew the significance of testing before working at Quicken, and I’m starting to understand the criticality of testing. I love working on real products that I’m passionate about, especially when I feel it is making a difference in the world. In order to achieve this and make great products, we have to perform extremely detailed testing. Although it can be tedious at times, I am encouraged that I am making a difference in the quality of the product. The mentoring support and encouragement from the group makes the work fun, and knowing the team is passionate about their work here makes it easy to work at Quicken.
The most important thing I’ve learned is how to work with people, including other interns, my mentors, my boss, other teams in the company, and Eric. I especially like working with the other interns on our Quicken Apple Watch App; we’re all good friends and we work well together. It’s a refreshing change to be able to work with people collaboratively versus competing with classmates in school. We bounce ideas off of each other and it’s highly productive; even if I need help with my own projects, I feel very comfortable asking another intern for help. I frequently have questions and I’ve learned how to come prepared with the right ones as well as how to ask them in a concise, organized manner. It’s an incredibly important skill, and Quicken has provided me with great resources to learn these skills. I communicate with other developers at Quicken because every project involves so many people. For example, when working on the Care Console, I often talked to the lead developer on the project and learned a lot from reading and understanding his code. Quicken also expects the interns to give presentations once a month to check in on progress, which is a great way to practice public-speaking skills in front of the leaders of the company. I especially had a great experience working with Eric and learning from someone so intelligent and accomplished. Along with learning about investments and testing the 10k feature, I watched and learned from the way Eric thought about problems and approached solving them. This summer I learned so much more than development and testing, and I improved my business and marketing skills. There’s just so much involved in any single project that I have to know what’s going on with every team as well as do my individual part.
Doing something for a larger goal and communicating with people of different skillsets and knowledge bases in order to develop an exceptional product is truly an enlightening experience. My experience at Quicken this summer has been more than I could ever ask for, and I’m excited to continue work this summer as well as return to school at MIT with all these new skills I’ve gained.