As part of the interview process for the Software Engineer Intern position here at Sundog, you must complete some simple code examples to display competency. I was aware that this was standard practice with technical and especially programming positions, so no big deal right? When I saw the form I realized I had underestimated the difficulty of the task.
The skills test was written exclusively in Apex, the back-end object oriented language for custom Salesforce development. According to the description provided by Salesforce, Apex is written in a Java like syntax, with stored procedure like capabilities. Seeing as this is a proprietary language, you would be hard pressed to find a Computer Science curriculum which includes Apex.
As someone with no Apex exposure and admittedly little experience in Java, I was pretty worried that I would not be able to handle learning a new language and starting a new job. After my first day those worries were gone. It became obvious early on that Sundog was a team that was willing to help. I even had people reach out to me before I started to reassure me that I would be helped and coached along the learning curve.
I was told to ask as many questions as I could think to ask. It was stressed that an internship is just as much a learning experience for the intern as it is a recruiting tool for the employer. It took me a while to fully accept that idea, as I did not want to be seen as the weakest link in my team, but I am glad I finally did. There has been more than one project where a senior team member helped me with a task in 20 minutes that I had been struggling on for hours. The fast solution was always credited to experience and lots of it, which made me feel better about not always having the answers. It is this combination of readiness to help and encouragement that made me feel like a member of the team early on.
Another invaluable learning tool that was recommended was Trailhead from Salesforce. Trailhead is a one stop shop for learning everything relating to Salesforce. With helpful tutorials and guided assessments, Trailhead brings you into the world of Salesforce in a collected and manageable way while minimizing the stress of getting assimilated with the gigantic platform. Not only does Trailhead quickly get you up to speed programming in Apex and Visualforce (Apex’s front end companion), it teach you everything from employee happiness and well being best practices to data privacy law compliance, I meant it when I said one stop shop. Trailhead saved me countless hours looking up documentation for every method and syntax error. It is especially helpful with some of the more specific and unique Apex features such as triggers and SOQL. Trailhead, with guidance from team members and leaders, has been an incredibly helpful tool, and I strongly recommend it.
When it comes to starting a new position, or learning something new at a current position, remember that it pays to ask questions. Likely somebody around you has already dealt with a similar problem and would gladly help you solve yours. You won’t have all the answers right away, so it’s best to seek help when necessary. It also cannot be understated that spending time researching learning tools or using ones provided to you is a monumental productivity boost, and will guarantee you less headache as you get used to your new duties. The process of getting acclimated to the programming environment at Sundog has been a smooth one in no small part thanks to the helpful team and excellent resources.
Software Engineer Intern