By Gabrielle Toutin with Foreword by Chadd Mikulin.
Gabrielle Toutin is a Software Engineer on the Backend team at FlightAware. She contributes to software development efforts including AeroAPI, Firehose, and the data feeds that FlightAware ingests. In addition, she is the 2022 Intern Coordinator.
FlightAware's summer intern program offers a number of benefits for both the company and the interns involved. For FlightAware, the program allows us to identify and recruit top talent, as well as gain fresh perspectives and insights from the next generation of engineers. In addition, the program allows FlightAware to build relationships with top universities and showcase our company culture and values. For interns, the program provides invaluable hands-on experience in a real-world environment, exposure to a wide variety of technology and industry best practices, and opportunities for mentorship and networking. Moreover, interns gain insights into the aviation industry and get a chance to work on innovative projects that have the potential to shape the future of aviation. Overall, FlightAware's summer intern program is a win-win situation for both the company and the interns involved, providing a unique and rewarding experience for all. -Chadd Mikulin, VP Engineering
Welcome Class of 2023
As we prepare to welcome our 2023 interns, we wanted to give you more insight into the Internship program at FlightAware! Every summer, we have a new class of interns, from many different schools across the country, that will each join one of the many crews across FlightAware engineering. Each intern is assigned a project to work on all summer, with the goal of having it production-ready by the end of their internship. They are considered members of the team and participate in the same daily events as full-time employees, such as 1:1s with their managers and daily standups. Their internship experience is supplemented with various learning sessions and social events throughout the summer. Plus, they get a FlightAware engineer on their team as a dedicated mentor.
The intern-mentor relationship is a symbiotic relationship. It offers help for interns and leadership experience for mentors. The mentor gets an opportunity to guide both the intern and the direction of their project. In turn, the intern has access to a software professional for brainstorming ideas, debugging help, career advice, and more. By the end of the internship, they will have gained a deep knowledge of a FlightAware system. Since they will have also gained some familiarity with their crew’s tech stack and products, a FlightAware intern is well-positioned for a strong start to their full-time career. We have several engineers that started out as FlightAware interns, two from the last two classes of summer interns. However, even if they do not come back to FlightAware to begin their careers, our goal is to provide an internship experience that will prepare them well.
Recruiting for interns is a long process that starts nearly a year before they join the team. FlightAware engineers and HR staff talk to potential interns at career fairs at schools across the country. We encourage the students to apply to the team, or teams, that most fit their skills and interests. Interviews typically take place through the fall and into the early spring. We are looking for interns who want to learn, who take and internalize feedback well, and have a great attitude. A successful intern is one who will learn from engineers over the summer, so they need to be teachable, as well.
Work and Play
The intern program is a mix of professional development, project demos, and social events. Each week we alternate between a social event and a learning session. There are interim demos scheduled throughout the summer so that they can show progress, with the internship culminating in a final demo presented to the entire company. You can get more insight by reading this post made by our 2022 interns! The point of the interim demo is to show how the project is going, share knowledge across teams, show off accomplishments, and let the intern practice explaining their work before the final demo. The learning sessions discuss FlightAware systems, general software engineering topics, and career advice. The social sessions are for the interns to make friends and network with other interns and FlightAware employees.
Intern feedback is very valuable and we are using it to continuously improve the program. We took feedback from the intern experience survey last year and applied them directly to this year’s program. Like FlightAware software, we are iteratively improving the program on an ongoing basis. Each year will improve upon the last so that we can deliver the best internship program possible and make it a meaningful and fun experience for both our interns and our employees.
We can’t tell you how excited we are to have our 2023 interns starting soon. We look forward to the contributions they will provide and the exchange of knowledge that will continue to help FlightAware grow. We are fortunate to have some of the best young minds in the industry. And, if you are interested, we’d love to talk about you joining a future intern class too!