First Internship

Up until this point, I had minimal programming experience with only a three-week crash course on HTML, PHP, MySQL, and CSS, so naturally when my high school English teacher asked if anyone of us had experience with web development, I jumped at the opportunity.

After that I met with the CEO of Urban Darling in an informal interview setting at the Cheesecake factory to discuss what it would be like to be an unpaid web development intern at Urban Darling, where the current website was built off of WordPress. The final title was delivered to me, Web Developer Intern, with a salary of $0 annually, and benefits ranging from going out with the CEO for cigars to going to networking conferences. At the time, I was convinced that the unpaid position would be worth it, as I would be getting a headstart on a professional career and getting experience that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Countless Mistakes

Although my title was an intern, it turned out that there was no CTO or current web development full time employee, so without much direction I began to hack my way through a backlogged feature list that the CEO had thrown together before we had started which ranged from changes to the template to simple addition of elements to a current page.

One of the largest mistakes I made during this time, was not frequently backing up. I had been editing a PHP file as usual through sublime and then pushing the change through FTP directly to the main site. This time, however, I pushed the change and rather than checking the site I went to sleep. The next day, I woke up to a dozen messages on my phone from the CEO asking why the entire website was down. I checked it out, and realizing that I had no backup in progress (since I didn’t know source control was a thing at the time), I proceeded to freak out. I couldn’t remember the change that I had made to the local file that caused the file to break. After hours of research, I found out that the error came down to a line I inadvertently deleted that referenced some close() function.

From that moment on, I always made sure to make a backup of any file that I was working on before pushing any sort of change. Months later, when I discovered gitHub, I realized that I could have been saving myself a considerable amount of time before editing any file.

What I worked on

Over my time, I worked on several different tasks:

  • Implemented Disqus blog which increased backlinks and user traffic. (This was later removed in favor of design)
  • Improved the page load time by losslessly compressing thousands of images in order to improve overall page load times and page ranking
  • Built functionality into existing PHP WordPress templates
  • Improved mobile responsiveness and interactivity by adding a plugin and fixing many style issues which occurred
  • Responsible for entire WordPress blog migration to a completely new style while maintaining functionality

Ending the internship

After working for almost a year, half of which was spent working remotely, I made the decision to no longer continue working for Urban Darling. By this time, I had been upgraded to an hourly position, but the strain of working remotely on a project that I wasn’t incredibly passionate about had begun to take its toll. Nonetheless, Urban Darling was an incredible experience, where I learned the value of working under pressure when you break the entire website and how to balance working while traveling to new locations, after working on vacation to the Netherlands and moving into my University.