Ashley Packard, Quality Assurance Intern for Percussion Software discusses the five lessons she learned from her summer internship.

Diary of Another Quality Assurance Intern: 5 Things I Learned From My Internship at Percussion Software

Tue Aug 6, 2013

You always read blog posts, but have you ever actually written one yourself? It's rather difficult. When I was asked to write this blog post, I was just in it for the free cookies-- who wouldn't be? This internship has taught me so much and below are a handful of lessons I learned along the way.

But first, some background; I'm a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology and was fortunate enough to experience my first internship at a software company doing quality assurance work. It sure beats my last summer job of cashiering at a toy store giant (I bet you can guess the one). Working at Percussion has taught me so much more than a classroom ever could. I've learned about the ups and downs of working with a real product. Classroom environments and business environments are totally different and each has its own atmosphere. Sure, most of what I learned in the classroom I can apply to my internships, but this summer I learned what you can’t teach. I immersed myself into the business world and I’m definitely going to benefit when applying to other internships and eventually jobs. Here are the highlights of what I've learned this summer:

It's Important to Have a Full Tool-belt

P4, Jira, Review Board, Putty, WinSCP, Cygwin, Linux, Eclipse, Java, CSS, and even Google. These are a few of the tools I've been using on a daily basis. You might not be familiar with some of them, or even all of them. I sure didn't know most of them when I started. I was nervous that when I started I was going to be expected to know all these different tools the engineering department uses. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone here was very patient and loved to explain the different programs and how to use them. My team loves to teach and show off what they know and I'm always getting emails with articles to read and cool websites to check out.

Pen and Paper Still Exist!

Starting at a new company means a lot of information is thrown at you in a short amount of time--especially on that first day. I quickly learned the benefit of pen and paper. Now, I write absolutely everything down in a notebook. That way, if I ever need to go back and do that task again I'll know how and won’t have to rely on others or ask for help again. I go back through my notes all the time trying to find some obscure piece of information. It's a lifesaver!

Things Can Go Wrong

Working with software, you find that nothing is ever perfect no matter how hard you try to eradicate the errors. There is no such thing as bug free code. I have seen how one tiny mistake can bring the whole day to a halt and everyone has to reverse directions because something went wrong and demands top priority. These sudden changes won’t interrupt the workflow too much in an agile environment. Working in 2 week sprints allows for some wiggle room and for us to focus our attention elsewhere if the need arises. All in all, you need to be quick on your feet.

Speed is Everything

As I’m sure you're all aware, Percussion CMS has the capability to import your site. Speed is not only important for user’s interacting with the UI, it’s also important for web drivers too. This summer working in the QA department, I spent everyday testing the product before its release. It's rather tedious as I end up testing the same thing over and over again on different environments and databases, and even web browsers. One of the perks is that I get to help code the automation tests. We use java code, Concordion, and Selenium to interact with the UI as any one of you would do so.

Small Companies Can Have Big Perks

I feel as though I got so much more out of my internship because of the small company that Percussion is. The office has open cubicles with short walls and the sales department is basically right next to the engineering department in this huge open room. Sitting next to sales has been a great experience such that I got to listen to all the demos and I even got to sit in on one of the customer demos. I got to see how potential customers view LiveFirst and their initial reactions towards it. I think it’s an amazing concept.

As my summer internship comes to a close, I am grateful that I got to experience my first internship at a small company with a very distinct and lively culture. I have learned so much about business and will definitely apply what I learned at Percussion to my life as a student.