My Internship Experience at Grand Rounds
Categories: #LifeAtGR, Eng
I’m a third year Computer Science and Statistics student at the University of Waterloo currently doing a 4-month internship at Grand Rounds. My time here as a Software Engineering Intern on the Product Team has been full of new learnings and growth opportunities. From contributing to a bold mission to being part of an awesome culture, here are my Grand Rounds internship highlights.
Why Grand Rounds?
The Bay Area has no shortage of innovative startups and growing tech companies. What made Grand Rounds stand out to me is its mission to raise the standard of healthcare for everyone, everywhere. Grand Rounds’ services provide members with much-needed guidance through today’s messy healthcare system, whether that be routing someone to the best doctor for their condition or providing a second opinion from a top-tier medical professional. With healthcare being a universal need and an industry full of systematic frustrations for both providers and patients, I felt that I could make an impact somewhere that mattered.
Growth and Learning Opportunities
Career growth was another factor that played into my decision to work at Grand Rounds. Right from the interview process, I was asked about my career goals and what I expected to get out of the internship. I felt that Grand Rounds was an environment with many growth opportunities and this proved to be true throughout my internship.
Interns at Grand Rounds work on the same projects as full-time engineers and it was super exciting to see the impact of my work within the product. During my internship, I mainly worked on two projects. The first project involved creating an activity feed where patients can view their medical claims history in order to get a wholistic view of their healthcare records and spending. The second project increased the security of web pages that contained personal health information by requiring users to verify their account with employer-provided identifying information before accessing the protected pages.
Both projects involved working with React, Ruby on Rails, and GraphQL. Being new to Ruby and GraphQL, there was definitely a lot for me to learn and there were many resources to help me out. I worked with several engineers on my team through code reviews, pairing, and task discussion in order to ship meaningful features to our member app. In addition to collaborating with other engineers, I also worked with people in product and design in order to deliver features that drive business value and that are consistent with design principles. Being part of a cross-functional team was a great learning experience that helped develop my technical abilities as well as my communication skills.
On my first day, I was paired with an experienced engineer who was my mentor throughout the term. He helped me set up my development environment, get settled in during my first couple days, and met with me bi-weekly to address any concerns and help me make the most out of my internship. I also had bi-weekly 1-on-1’s with my manager, where we would discuss my internship goals, progress, and growth areas. Both my mentor and manager were invested in my career growth and helped to spur my development as an engineer, which I’m so thankful for.
Life @ GR
One of the things I love about Grand Rounds is the cohesion among different departments. Every month, we hold a demo day where teams from engineering, data science, and product can present what they’ve been working on to the rest of the company. These fun and informative presentations helped me to learn about the various projects happening throughout the company. Demo days are also followed by happy hours, where I got to know new people over some snacks and drinks.
There are also several ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) that aim to connect people through common characteristics. One of these is the Women in Tech ERG, which supports the community and career growth of women in engineering, product, and design. As part of this initiative, we have events that target growth areas such as public speaking, leadership, and writing. The group also serves as a way to keep each other accountable and develop a support network of other women in the organization.
In addition, interns get the bonus of fun activities like trying out an escape room, going mini-golfing, and watching a Giants baseball game. We even got the opportunity to have several lunch discussions with the company’s executives, including the CEO, CTO, CFO, Chief Medical Officer, and SVP of Product. These lunches presented valuable opportunities to ask questions and gain insight into the different aspects of what it’s like to operate a rapidly growing company.
Presenting at the Women in Tech Speaking Series Workshop
Get to Know People
Don’t shy away from reaching out to your co-workers for lunch or coffee, including people who you don’t get to interact with regularly. Although it can be intimidating at first, getting to know people from different departments will help to broaden your overall understanding of the company. The people you interact with is one of the biggest determinants of your happiness at work, so get to know your colleagues and make friends!
Communication is Key
When doing the retrospective for my first project, one of the points that repeatedly popped up was that the close collaboration between the different engineering, product, and design teams was fundamental for our project success. Clear communication is key for any cooperative group effort.
Knowing when and how to ask for help is another important skill to develop no matter what position you’re in. Being new to the company can be daunting as there are many things that are unfamiliar. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you need clarification and always be receptive to feedback so that you can keep improving.
Take Every Opportunity to Learn
Make the most of your time here and be a sponge: soak in all of the information and knowledge you can. The more you actively look for learning opportunities, the more you’ll get out of your internship.
That’s a Wrap
Working at Grand Rounds has been incredibly rewarding and I’m so grateful for my internship experience here. Not only did I learn a lot about software engineering processes and best practices, I also gained skills that will be valuable for any position. As I head back to Waterloo to continue my studies, I know that I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here and I look forward to all of the great things that Grand Rounds will accomplish.
If you want to make a real impact on people’s lives, Grand Rounds might be the team for you!