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Developing more than software

  • Quade Kayle '19
August 08, 2018

Hello, my name is Quade Kayle ’19 and I will be a senior at Carthage College this year. I am from the lovely suburban town of Libertyville, Illinois, just about an hour outside of Chicago. I have been studying computer science at Carthage for three years now and I am very excited to be finishing my last year with such a rigorous and well-developed program. This summer, I am employed as a software development intern at Sentinel Technologies.

It was a mid-afternoon in March when I received a call from Sentinel Technologies with an offer to spend my summer as an intern on their software development team. I pranced around my dorm room trying to contain my excitement. After I accepted, I let it set in that I would be spending a summer in Downers Grove, Illinois doing what I love: development.

Development, however, involved more than just my fingers hitting the keyboard in repeated patterns to produce a desired result. To me, this summer was about development in a variety of ways: as an application developer, a young professional, a runner, and a human being. With support from my professors and mentors, I soon learned the ins and outs of the development process. Beyond that, I also picked up valuable life skills such as how to best manage my time, how to properly conduct myself in a business environment, and how to minimize my stress levels.

When I started at Sentinel we had orientation, where the first lesson was to be ready to learn every day. I hit the ground running by studying the many different applications and frameworks the company uses on a regular basis. That included ASP.NET, JavaScript, JQuery, Bootstrap, and a plethora of related tools. My intent was to start making an impact right away, but just like development, it was going to be a process. You need to know how to walk before you can run.

Once I was assigned my first project, things began to move very quickly. I was eager to see my project start from nothing and blossom into something truly great. One of my goals was to be proud of my work, and that’s putting it mildly. I was adding in features and trying new and interesting solutions to problems that otherwise seemed impossible. My strongest attribute as an intern is that I will never say a task is impossible. My supervisors began laying out new prompts and additions to my projects, but as the list grew, so did my anxiety. I worried about how I was going to make it all work. But just as those thoughts came, they went as I told my supervisors I’d get it done.

I am very fortunate to be blessed with supervisors that are eager to teach me as well. What I value the most from my relationship with them is they don’t feel the need to hold my hand and guide me through every little thing. Instead, they point me in the direction I need to head and then let me discover the path to get there. Their methods are incredible and I feel lucky to work with such strong leaders. The lesson I learned is a universal one: do not expect to be coddled. Situations just like this one are helpful for the development of my character. It’s a very important lesson I will take with me forever.

Unfortunately, not all my days were personal journeys with valuable lessons to learn. Some days were the typical 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. day where I accomplished very little and felt very discouraged. I am driven by success, and when there were days where I failed to achieve what I needed to, I would drive home quietly contemplating how I could have done better. The first couple of days like this, I wasn’t sure how to react. Whenever I did badly on a test, had a bad race, or was feeling sad at school, I would rely on my friends who were always around to help me through it. As a young adult doing a trial run on real life, what now?

At first, I would walk into my room, kick my shoes off, and lay down for the rest of the night. I wouldn’t do much except browse Reddit, text a friend, or nap. I soon learned that this valuable time can be used for reflection and self-growth, something that I think I needed more of rather than an hour of sleep. Instead of neglecting my feelings, I wrote them down, ran with them, and thought hard about what made the day unsuccessful in my book. The chapter of that day didn’t have to end at 5 p.m. I could always produce a plot twist good enough to turn things in a positive direction. I could do research into a problem I could not solve at work, go for a run to spend a long amount of time stretching and rolling out, or even just have a conversation with myself about how I am feeling and what I could do to improve. This summer not only has taught me how to produce applications, but also to properly deal with my bad days and be constructive.

While the bad days came, the amount of good days outnumbered them. I have been working on four different projects this summer, three of them being considered complete. A couple have been with another intern on my team named Ryan. My supervisor has to inspect them and prepare them for production before they can be used, but fortunately enough, I have already had one of my projects pushed to production! It is a wallboard that is displayed in different areas around Sentinel, and the day that it was pushed to production I got to see a real project I developed being put to practical use. It was a great feeling, and I am very excited for when my other completed projects get moved to production and are used by the staff at Sentinel. It’s rewarding seeing that, as an intern, I was responsible for a product that is utilized.

My continuing summer project has been very rigorous, and as the summer goes on, my supervisors have asked me to add more and more difficult features. These have been great learning experiences, and each time I complete a feature, I am eager to complete another one. I refuse to stop until a feature is done. Sometimes, when it was taking longer than usual to solve a problem, I would work past my lunch time because I wanted to find a way to make it work. It’s almost as if you can accomplish anything if you are willing to work hard enough.

Each day there is a takeaway, whether it be learning how to drive in rush hour traffic or understanding how to conduct myself on a bad day. While my growth as an adult started when I stepped foot on to the Carthage campus, my internship at Sentinel is responsible for an incredible amount of exposure and discovery, not only professionally as a developer but as a young adult figuring out the world. I have a couple weeks left at Sentinel before my time is done there, but I remain excited for the new lessons I will learn each day.

Writer

Quade Kayle ’19