As the summer winds down and it’s nearly time for school to start back up, I’ve had some time to reflect on my summer at WRIS. I first learned about WRIS during the second semester of my first year at the University of Michigan. I had recently declared my major in computer science and I was looking to get some experience in the field through an internship. Fortunately for me, I knew a student from my high school who had previously worked at a company called WRIS Web Services, a small company near my hometown in the Cleveland area that makes websites. I reached out, exchanged a few emails, and met with a few members of the company online. A few months later, I was getting ready to start my first day.
Going into the internship, I was a little bit unsure on exactly how much work I would be able to do. I was also nervous about working remotely, as I knew it would be difficult to stay focused during work hours, especially if I was working from home. Thankfully, WRIS had rented an office at a shared workspace that was only a few miles from my house. So close in fact, I was actually able to ride my bike to and from work for a good part of the summer.
Since I had no previous experience creating and designing websites, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pick up on the new material I would need to cover before I could actually get to building websites. Luckily for me, my first day happened to be during an in-person company meeting, so I got to meet a few of my new colleagues, and was able to get set up with a few courses and tutorials that would help get me introduced and proficient in ColdFusion, the main language that WRIS uses to develop websites. These courses, along with a few other business-related projects for the company and meetings every now and then with my colleagues, took me through the first month of my summer.
While learning all about ColdFusion and WRIS itself was interesting, I wasn’t really getting to create any websites. Unfortunately, most companies don’t tend to decide to get a website built during the summer when company members are in and out of vacation, so there weren’t any beginner-level projects for me to work on. WRIS was able to help me work around this however, as they did have one website that beginners could work on: their own website. Even though I wouldn’t be working with ColdFusion to actually make changes to the website and create new pages to showcase the services WRIS could provide customers, I was excited to start working with a website that was actually online and available to the public.
Instead of working with ColdFusion on the WRIS website, I would have to use languages like HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap to design the new webpages, all of which I also had no prior experience with. However, I was given the basics by some of my more experienced colleagues, and was able to get started almost immediately on the website. With these new webpages, I really found my stride in the summer. Since I was working with publicly available pages, I was always pushing myself to produce my best work for each page, as I knew that possible clients could be looking at them the second I published. For nearly a month, I was churning out new pages for the website, all the while learning more about website and graphic design.
Heading into the last few weeks with the company, I had run out of webpages to create. However, I was lucky enough to get assigned my first project with an actual client: making a blog website. For this website, I was going to work with WordPress, another software I had no previous experience with. Again, my colleagues were supportive and helped me figure out the basics so that I could get started quickly. I found working on an entirely new website to be quite challenging, as I had all kinds of freedom with the colors and overall structure of the website. With some guidance from other designers at the company, I was able to build a base for the website that I thought looked pretty good. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to completely finish the website building process before the end of my summer, but I think the experience I got from building the project from the ground up will still serve me well.
Going into the summer, I had no idea the number of languages and softwares I would get experience with throughout the various projects that I was able to work on. In fact, if I had been told all of the projects I would get to work on beforehand, I would’ve thought I’d be drowning in work for the entire summer. However, thanks to the guidance and assistance from all the members of WRIS, there was not a single point during the summer at which I thought I was overwhelmed with work or confused on the direction to take. In addition to all of their help with actual website development, throughout my meetings with several colleagues, I also was to ask questions and learn so much about careers in web development and the field of programming as a whole, which I know will help me in the future as I continue through college and look for jobs.
This internship at WRIS exceeded every expectation I could’ve ever set. I know that the knowledge and advice that I got from my colleagues, and the experience I gained from the numerous projects that I was trusted to work on will continue to benefit me for years to come. Even with all of the work I was able to do, the summer was never a bore. Even with the company being remote, meetings happened just enough to hold a sense of community, but also to leave time to put my head down and get some work done. I am so thankful for all of the colleagues who made this summer as great as it was, and to WRIS for giving me the opportunity to work with them.
If you know any talented college students majoring in IT or Computer Science, who are looking for a summer internship, reach out to WRIS today.