Starting Anew: Internships, Learning, and Making Mistakes

It has been a while since I've written one of these "tiny letters" to my small group of subscribers. Let me tell you now, that these will be more regular than in the past, hopefully. And hopefully you enjoy them.

The last time I wrote one I was going through a nervous breakdown that took a while to get over. In the years since, great ups and downs have happened. There are still some uncertainties but I am more prepared to handle them.

The Good

I had the opportunity to intern at The Practical Dev, an awesome and fast growing developer platform for sharing ideas. The stack was totally unfamiliar to me (Rails) and it was fully remote.

Seeing that it was remote, in a stack I wasn't familiar with, and was the first time I wrote production level code on a team, I did well. But not well enough.

The Mistakes

I didn't take notes. I just didn't feel like breaking out or my iPad to jot things down. That was a fatal mistake because while I had fantastic momentum at first, building useful and complex features, I got hit with the news that I needed to move as my building decided they weren't going to renew my lease.

Understandably I was panicked. I began to forget simple details. I stopped being able to use the keyboard properly with shortcuts, etc. I didn't remember how to bring up the command palette in my editor or use fuzzy search. I kept stumbling. Then I got the performance review and I was crushed. I expected it. But not like that.

I didn't feel like I could face my team. My perfectionism got the best of me. I hold myself to high standards, much to my downfall. And because of this, I failed to perform for the latter half of my internship, which meant they didn't end up offering me. And to be honest, I was glad. I just wanted to forget the mess I made.


The exit interview was the best thing that happened to me throughout the whole experience. It gave me perspective. The team also said I seemed completely self-aware and we agreed on the place where I started to fall off. I was a bad communicator and it got even worse when I felt like I had failed them.

Some takeaways:

  • Keep Slack open but keep keywords on.

    • Be an active participant in the conversations there.

  • Take notes!!

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Ask questions but also get up to speed on your own.

    • Googling and knowing how to debug is important.

  • Learn how to write effective tests

  • Learn your editor (I now use VS Code Command Palette for everything)

  • Use keyboard shortcuts (I am doing that more now. Ben's suggestions have stuck)

  • Be active on GitHub

  • Learn how to refactor code and keep functionality

This is just a few things I've learned over this internship.

Some Other News

I have contributed to an open source project before. It was a small fix but I did it wrong and it wasn't merged. I don't feel like that even counts. I wrote one line and it wasn't effective.

I found a pretty popular open source project and asked to contribute to it. It will take a little while but I am pretty sure I can get this working.

Their Code of Conduct makes me feel really happy that I chose this repo. They are committed to diversity and inclusion. That means a lot to me.

It is also something I am going to be using for my Check Yo Self app as it is a markdown editor, where you can just plug it into your project and you can use markdown or WYSIWYG editor. It's pretty rad.

The repo is [Toast UI Editor]( I can't wait to see if I can help and how I can use it in my project.

P.S. If you like what I am doing here, be sure to subscribe, follow me on Twitter, buy me a coffee, a book, or support me on Buy Me a Coffee and share the love. You can also subscribe to this newsletter’s rss feed or you can ask me anything.

👋🏾 Hi. I’m Tiffany White. I am a front-end engineer and instructor. I sometimes contribute to open source, and blog about web development at Tiffany R. White Blog. I love JavaScript, React ⚛️, and herding cats 🐾 🐈