July 13, 2012
Sophomore Cody Sehl has used his internship as a developer at start-up payment company Dwolla to learn many practical aspects of the computer science field which he believes will help him in future computer science endeavors. Sehl is a computer science major and art minor from Evanston, Illinois.
Tell us about your internship. What is your usual day at work?
I'm working at a payment company called Dwolla in Des Moines, Iowa. Think PayPal, but cheaper, without credit cards, and way easier to use. I am a developer working both on front and back-end parts of the company.
Dwolla is unique in that I am allowed to come in any time I want, so long as I get my work done. Though I can do what I want, I normally arrive at 8 and leave at 5. A typical day consists of attending meetings to discuss things we've accomplished, things we are accomplishing, or things we want to accomplish. I work in a non-traditional office setting (a big room) with about 10 other developers. We have fun with things like quadracopters and Legos when we want, but after that it's down to business.
How has Knox helped you in your internship?
Taking the databases class at Knox prepared me for some of the work I do at Dwolla. More than anything though, I've learned that the most valuable resource is people, and that all started at Knox. As a student, I know there are always things that need to get done. Papers, homework, club meetings, you name it. Knox isn't your typical institution so the pathways to these things aren't typical either.
More and more I find that the quickest way to finish a project or solve a problem isn't the one that's set up for you, it's the alternative route that can help you the most and allow you to grow. Usually, there are forms to fill out or processes to follow, and usually, if you talk to someone you know, the process and the forms get done much quicker. Because Knox is small and the community is friendly it's easy to connect with the people that can help get you where you want to go.
How do you think this internship experience will benefit you in the future?
This was definitely one of the best things I could do with my time this summer. It's interesting though, I've learned more about the application of computer science and how it functions in a business environment rather than computer science itself. Being on my own is great, something that I get at Knox, but to a lesser extent.
What has been the coolest part of your internship so far?
Working on product, totally! I've led two projects that have turned into major new aspects of the site. It's incredibly gratifying to see your work out there for people to use.
The two projects I've had a hand in are part of a larger development over the past month called Places. This new feature allows users to see what stores take Dwolla near their location and request it at stores that don't. I wasn't a team leader, (Dwolla doesn't run that way) but I did work on large parts of the front and back end of Places. This new feature was also written up on the Dwolla blog and in various news outlets, and that's way cool!
What inspired you to pursue the internship/project?
The thing that pushed me the most is the job market. While prospects are good for computer science majors on the whole, it can never hurt to go a step further.
What have you gained so far from your internship?
I've already learned so much! I now understand how computer science works in business, what fun it is to do what you love, and how to communicate effectively with the people you're working with.