Sitting at my Ono Sendai

On my way out
August 16, 2009, 5:08 am
Filed under: thoughts

I’m glad to see I got such a fervent response from all of you on my last post. :-/ I’ve come to think that now my posts are nothing but mindless self-indulgence.


Onward to the more relevant part of my post I suppose. A reflection on my internship this summer.

I think the problem with a big company is that often it is really easy to feel insignificant. Not that you are made to feel insignificant, none of that, I just think that I personally got lost in a part of it. As many intern projects go, some of them never even see the light of day, they lay the groundwork for things to come or become internal tools, but seldom do people outside of the company see their effects. This is the impression I got even though I met plenty of interns who were building things into parts of the next releases for their teams. They’re often the tiny little details.

Oh, but the attention is in the details, in every product we make, in all the code that’s written, in every interface that’s designed. It’s a means to strive for something, and one I very much appreciate and enjoy working on. Every time I worked on my project I thought: “oh, but it would be cool to add this button that does x” or “the users need a subtle visual cue to let them know what’s going on” and I loved working on those.

There was more than once this summer where I wished I could take a break from what I was working on directly. Just to change the pace, just because this is how I work. And the impossibility of doing this kind of resulted in me writing 4 comic scripts, a short Twitter musical, and some other things I’ve since then deleted because I thought they were rubbish. Maybe I was just in the wrong place for working like that. Maybe it’s a personal flaw of mine that I’m not able to hyperfocus on something for months at a time.

It occurs to me however that I really do love the culture there. It’s a combination of past and present, being able to directly talk to the people that made something was AMAZING. “Oh hey, I have an issue with Y.” “You should talk to Q, he worked on Y since the project started!” and despite the notorious reputation for confidentiality, whoever it was that you needed to talk to was overjoyed to do so, ecstatic even. And that’s amazing. The place bleeds passion, in the best way.

There are a couple things throughout the summer that made me incredibly uncomfortable to work there. All of them related to a generational misunderstanding and a bad temper from someone. I won’t talk about it here, but if you’re curious, poke me in person and we can discuss it. Thankfully, going through the experience with everyone else made it more bearable, ignoring it largely did too.

Dom said something about the speed of corporate at the beginning of the summer. Given how long it took to get me all the things I needed to start my project, I’m not that overjoyed with corporate speed. I understand it and why it happens, but I like being able to get the things I need when I need them.

As always, I run out of things to say. Would I do it again? Definitely, I was right to feel unprepared last summer. I was slightly more capable(?) and confident this summer and I’ve learned a lot, about real work, about languages and devices and about myself. Would I do something else? Again, definitely. Having sampled what it’s like to work for a big company, I’m curious what it would be like to work for a smaller shop. Why? Because you have to know how you’re most comfortable.

I am taking away a lot from this summer, largely including a new philosophy for myself and the things I will work on in the future. I did miss the city a lot, and was homesick a lot, but these are things that change over time.

We’ll see where I go from here. This summer was certainly better than last.


3 Comments so far
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I wished I could take a break from what I was working on directly. Just to change the pace, just because this is how I work.

I think that’s true for a lot of people — me too, in particular. In all my time in grad school, I seem to be happiest when I have exactly two things to work on. Any more and I feel like I’m drowning in undoable work; any fewer and I get bored or upset when the one thing’s not working, and then I start to ignore it.

Comment by Greg


I read your posts. I’m just not good at answering questions like that because I’m always worried I’ll offend the person.

The rest of your post sounds pretty much like the way corporations are :) I feel the same a lot… so I guess I’m lucky in the sense that we change that we do every 2 weeks so I don’t get too much of a chance to get stuck doing things I dislike for long periods of time.

Also, yeah, intern work typically doesn’t get much use. I did a huge project as one of my first tasks at my internship at Viz in Pittsburgh. It took me like 3 days. As far as I know, no one has even looked at the result, much less used it. Oh well.

Comment by Alan

oh, hey, have i left a comment here before? i just left one on the LJ feed..

Comment by William

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