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Not Your Typical Intern Project

The Problem

Each May, college students enthusiastically march to companies across the country to partake in one of the mainstays of American businesses: the summer internship. And yet year after year, those big aspirations are crushed as interns get their first taste of the working world with the quintessential “intern project.”

“It’s an internal tool.” “A proof of concept.” “Side projects.” “They’re doing some grunt work for me.” It’s this attitude that plagues initially enthusiastic interns, and from conversations with friends, family, and my peers, this mentality is all too real. As a result, interns are relegated to working on small side projects, work that will never see the light of day (let alone a real user), or busywork that a full-timer passed off. It’s not entirely bad: a small, well-defined project with limited scope can be great for a summer project, and interns still get a chance to get their feet wet and have a “learning experience.” However, I contend that this approach often misuses some incredible talent.

Hudl’s Take

RatatouilleWe have a mantra here that defines the way we think about product development: Anyone can deploy. Inspired by Etsy’s take on the development process, we value trust, communication, and empowering developers. If this were Ratatouille (yes, the Pixar film), our mantra would be the equivalent of venerable Gusteau’s constant refrain that “anyone can cook,” the interns assuming the role of Remy (the rat) who aspires to do something great. It was only a matter of hours after I had my computer first set up that code I had written was live for users on Hudl.com. These first deploys were small, but they set a precedent: interns, new hires, and full time developers alike are here to make a real impact on the service that coaches and athletes around the world use and love every day.

With the right mix of project management, agile processes, and frequent code reviews from other developers, it all works. Projects can still be small and well-defined, but they can also be so much more. Interns have the ability to make far-reaching changes that improve the service we offer our coaches in meaningful ways. To those who doubt that “anyone can cook,” you just might be surprised when you see who’s actually behind those double doors.

Why Should You Care?

For an intern or a new hire, working at Hudl gives you an opportunity to work with some truly brilliant programmers, an opportunity to grow as a developer (both technically and interpersonally), and perhaps most importantly, an opportunity to improve Hudl for millions of people: coaches, athletes, fans, recruiters, and family.

Hudl’s attitude about the role of interns and the underlying principle that “anyone can deploy” leaves it with a dynamic culture filled with hard workers, passionate developers, and a fast moving product team. Interns have made significant contributions on some amazing products here, like the Android app, Playbook, mobile first exchanges & roster, and the new profile pages, to name a few. Remember when I said that interns have real impact? I meant it.

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