Internship report Marc

Marc, ETH Student within PDF Tools AG

“It is extremely motivating to see your product take shape, grow and run successfully. ”

Marc, computer science student, UZH Zurich

Recommendation

I recommend an internship at PDF Tools AG to everyone who wants to take their programming skills to the next level and learn more about the concepts and architecture used in software development.

The combination of an informal atmosphere and professional working methods enabled me to learn new things every day and helped me to develop my skills.

An internship is definitely a great opportunity for students who want to gain an insight into the life of a computer scientist, but who also want to actively develop their skills and not just sit on the sidelines.

Who am I and why did I want to do an internship?

I am an IT student at the University of Zurich. Completing an internship is a mandatory part of my bachelor’s degree, and this is something I aimed to do in summer 2018.

Even aside from university, I wanted to do an internship to gain experience in the private sector, since projects at university are very different from real life.

How did I find PDF Tools AG? Why did I choose PDF Tools AG?

I found an advert for the internship at PDF Tools AG on an online job portal and then went to their website, where I found more detailed information about the internship and the company itself. A small company with an informal atmosphere seemed to be the ideal place to gain some initial experience.

How did I secure the internship?

After sending off my application, I was invited to an interview with Dr. Hans Bärfuss. During the interview, I introduced myself and explained everything that I had learned both inside and outside of university. Dr. Bärfuss then told me about the company and explained what my tasks would be during the internship. The internship also met all of my university's requirements. I felt very comfortable from the outset and thought the tasks mentioned would be exciting challenges. I was therefore very happy to accept the offer for this internship.

What does a day in the life of an intern look like?

My daily work doesn't differ much from that of the other developers. I work independently on my project and can arrange my own working hours. The main difference is that I sometimes have questions, which I discuss with my internship supervisor or with other colleagues. I can ask for help or input at any time, which gives me real confidence in my work. There are periodic meetings where I present my progress and we discuss the next steps. We eat lunch together in the common room or go out to eat, depending on what people feel like doing. You can also bring in your own food.

What did I learn during my internship?

It was the first time I got to experience what it’s like working in a company and I gained an interesting insight into life at an established software firm. The main reason I was there, however, was to learn how to code. I learned the basics at university and I had also written my own small programs. However, this was very different from the code that I wrote during my internship. I was able to further expand my knowledge, from architecture and reading existing code to new programming languages and technologies. I had already studied many of the principles at university, but I quickly found out that theoretical knowledge alone or knowledge from university projects – which took place in very controlled conditions – were no substitute for firsthand experience. In terms of a program’s runtime and error handling, I could do things that were only talked about in theory at university and ignored in small projects. Thanks to my internship, I am now able to deliver a much higher quality of work.

Personal highlight

My personal highlight was seeing the first version of my project, which consisted of several programs, run from start to finish and deliver the expected results. To reach this goal, I had to learn a lot to be able to solve the interesting and challenging problems that came up. The project grew step by step and changed with every new line of code.


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