I’ve recently concluded my internship with Insync. It’s been a great learning experince and time really just sped by. I’m very grateful to Terence and Marte for letting play wannabe hacker at their office in Geylang, Singapore and also to the rest of the team for helping me out whenever I was stuck.
Insync is Googles Docs sync done right. Insync has a desktop client and web application that allows bidirectional syncing of your Google Documents. All users get 1GB free from Google. BTW, they are looking for interns and full-time staff.
What I’ve Accomplished
I started this internship with the following knowledge
- 3 weeks of Python knowledge
- Basic HTML and CSS
- Reasonable SQL knowledge acquired from my previous startup
I finished the internship by building a databound reporting dashboard using Python/Django covering at least 20 metrics. I’ve also used Google Data API to retrieve Google Analytics data for display in the app. In generating the graphs, I used Matplotlib extensively. I also managed to reach my goal of creating a CRUD webapp much earlier in the internship with the creating of www.sgelections2011.com. Lastly, I also made a lot of basic little apps including a Flickr photo browser and a Twitter tag cloud. I’m in the process of re-visiting these old apps with the goal of applying some jQuery magick on them.
Insync has a very dynamic and flexible with a culture that fosters autonomy and responsibility. The guys there clearly love what they are doing. Marte normally goes to sleep when I get into the office at around 9:45. Yup, he’s been up all night (and morning). The rest of the guys are equal workaholics quietly going about their tasks. Once in while, Roshelle, the office administrator, would cook up a splendid lunch like sweet spaghetti. It never ceases to amaze me how tiring programming can be and how a good meal can completely invigorate you.
In Terence, they have a charismatic and very clued-in CEO. One good tell about the measure of a person is how he responds to feedback. From my personal exchanges with him and from my observations of how he communicates with the early beta users, I have no doubt Insync will be a very customer-centric company. They will no make promises they cannot deliver and will spare no quarter in coming your experience wonderful.
It’s been a while since I’ve been in the company of such smart and driven individuals. I’m very glad to have formed the connections and relationships with such talented people and wish them all the very best in making Insync a kickass company.
What I’ve Learnt
- Learn things on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. Establish your goal and work backwards from there. This maximizes your meaning for what you’re learning as you’re able to see it in effect immediately. It also obviously helps you to achieve your goal quicker.
- Just do it. Seriously, just dive in and do it.
- Set small goals for yourself. For about 3 – 4 weeks, I was aiming to push out at least 1 new app each week. This on hindsight actually sounds like a lot of time but accomplishing something small gives you the motivation of wanting to do more more more! Having bite-able chunks of work also help to combat procrastination.
- A willing tutor without a willing student is a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, it really comes down to your own drive and determination. Having good mentors can only take you so far, the rest is up to you. Think of good mentors as a multiplier.
- Most importantly you gotta find meaning in what you do and derive pleasure from it. If didn’t like programming, I don’t think I would have had the determination to see off my early frustrations. This was something I was quite happily grinding away on Friday/Saturdays nights.
- Fostering the right culture is super uber important. As CEO/founder, you absolutely have to set the bar for speed, performance and lead by example.
- In the book Influence by Cialdini, he mentions Lewin’s Equation; behavior is a function of a person and his environment. I really agree with this heuristic. Having the right environment is really important to progress. Even though the daily commute to work took me 1h 15mins each day, I was happy to do it as I knew I won’t have been able to concentrate at home.