Computer Science Major, Art Minor
Cody Sehl used the summer to intern as a developer for the start-up payment
company Dwolla. He learned many practical aspects of the computer science field, which he believes will help him in future computer science endeavors.
Tell us about your internship. What was your usual day at work?
I worked at a payment company called Dwolla in Des Moines, Iowa. Think PayPal, but cheaper, without credit cards, and way easier to use. I was a developer working both on front and back-end parts of the company.
Dwolla is unique in that I was allowed to come in any time I wanted, so long as I got my work done. Though I could do what I wanted, I normally arrived at 8 and left at 5. A typical day consisted of attending meetings to discuss things we accomplished, things we were accomplishing, or things we wanted to accomplish. I worked in a non-traditional office setting (a big room) with about 10 other developers. We had fun with things like quadracopters and Legos when we wanted, but after that it was down to business.
How did Knox help you in your internship?
Taking the databases class at Knox prepared me for some of the work I did at Dwolla. More than anything though, I 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 found 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 have done with my time during the summer. It's interesting though. I 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 was great -- something that I get at Knox -- but to a lesser extent.
What was the coolest part of your experience?
Working on product, totally! I led two projects that 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 had a hand in were part of a larger development 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 was way cool! (Photo: Cody Sehl '15, left, with Dwolla founder and CEO Ben Milne in the Des Moines office)
What inspired you to pursue the internship?
The thing that pushed me the most was the job market. While prospects are good for computer science majors on the whole, it can never hurt to go a step further.
In general, what did you gain?
I 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.