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July 2020
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3 things I learned during my internship at ACA

Bryan DefermBryan Deferm

I recently completed an internship at ACA for my applied informatics studies at university college PXL. In this blog post, I’d like to share my experience and some things I learned during my internship at ACA!

3 things I learned during my internship at ACA

1. Perseverance

During my first month I learned to persevere. I spent most of my time alone and scouring the web, researching for the ‘research’ part of the internship. This month was the least fun and interesting month of the internship, but it was sadly required by the school I was attending. Luckily, the COIN team at ACA got to decide the topic of my research. Their chosen topic was not only fun to research, but was something they actually needed to know and cared about. A client needed to know their best options for choosing a cloud-based solution for storing property-related files. Security, speed and implementation of the solutions were the main topics of my research.

3 things I learned during my internship at ACA

When I finished my research, I got the opportunity to present and explain my findings to the team. The client was also eager to learn about my findings, so I got to attend an online meeting where my research was presented. Seeing my research actually being used and quoted was definitely exciting and a new experience. I am glad I persevered and achieved a great result!

2. Teamspirit and teamwork

At the start of the second month I had finished my research and joined the COIN team in their adventure to develop Woningpas, a digital passport for residences in Flanders. The team welcomed me with open arms! What struck me was the high spirits of every team member. People always were in a great mood and communication flowed without difficulties.

Every morning, we held a scrum meeting. After the scrum meeting, we competed in a foosball game. This made the mornings more fun, relaxed and a little less serious. During the rest of the day everyone worked at their desks completing their tickets. This didn’t mean that there was no interaction with your colleagues, on the contrary. If anyone had a question or request, they could expect an immediate answer or help. If I got stuck with an issue, I could ask anyone on the project and they would jump to my aid. They would help me understand the issue and pair with me until the issue was resolved.

3 things I learned during my internship at ACA

I learned that teamwork was the most important cog in the work process of a large project. Because of the raised morale and great teamwork, our work got completed faster and the quality of the end product was noticeably better.

3. Becoming a better developer overall

My main job during the internship was, of course, developing. I learned the basic principles of coding in school, but I never really learned how to be a good developer. During my first week with the COIN team, I noticed my skills were not up to par with the rest of the team.

3 things I learned during my internship at ACA

Project structure and code structure were the first things where I noticed a major difference. In large projects, these are the most important parts that make sure the project remains readable and manageable.

Writing good tests and testing every possible code path was the second thing I learned. I have written tests before, but not to this extent. Testing is crucial, because it makes code changes easier to implement and removes the hassle of unnecessary debugging.

That brings me to the third thing I learned that made me a better developer: debugging. Debugging is a vital skill you need to master quickly if you want to write better software. Finding your (or others’) mistakes quickly can shave a lot of time off of your developing cycle and save you and your team a lot of frustration.

What’s next?

During the internship I got the opportunity to start my developing career at ACA. There was not a moment of doubt, especially after working here for a few months, that I wanted to stay at ACA. The only problem was that I had other plans for after my graduation.

After my graduation, when you’d normally start working, I was leaving for a year long adventure exploring Asia. When telling ACA about this, they offered a simple solution: why not start when you get back? This meant that I had job security and no worries when travelling for an entire year. After hearing this solution my decision was made and I knew I would start my career at ACA!

Thanks for reading my blog post! If you’re interested in an internship at ACA yourself, check out their page for internships here (in Dutch!).