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The Sysco Labs Intern Diaries, Volume Two; Chapter Four: On Being Agile

by Sysco LABS Articles 23 October 2017

 

By: Tamasha Malepathirana

An internship is a platform to break out of our shells and experience the real world of work that awaits us in our prospective career fields.  Like everyone else, the internship for me was not an alien concept, but was novel enough to be quite enticing and frightening at the same time. True, our late night assignment submissions were about to cease, stressful examinations were about to halt but on the other hand, I was about to experience my life as a software engineering intern – to get a taste of the real deal. And that too at Sysco Labs. Even before joining Sysco Labs, I was intrigued by their corporate culture after speaking to my immediate seniors who were a part of last year’s internship program.

The first three months of our internship went by in a flash without us even noticing that we had almost reached the second half of our journey. This being my first endeavour into a corporate atmosphere, I wasn’t aware of what exactly to expect. Upon arrival, I found the environment here to be both fast paced and enjoyable. These past few weeks we were occupied with the development of our first real world application – a new reports application. The most critical – and hence the most difficult – part of the process was to review and finalise the requirements. Real world doesn’t have the perfect waterfall software life cycles we learnt back in uni; these waterfalls take detours, and curl back upon themselves. Yet I believe the above leads to another facet of the practical corporate world where we get the chance to accurately interpret what we learn at the university. Case in point – practising the Agile Scrum framework in development.

During the first week of the last month, we were able to finalise our requirements and move ahead with the implementation. At Sysco Labs we follow the Agile Scrum methodology. For our project development, we had 1 week sprints. If I was to talk a bit about Scrum, the first step before moving to sprints is to come up with the backlog – a list of tasks which are to be completed. Each sprint follows a planning session where we estimate the weight of stories, taking three main factors into account; complexity, effort and the uncertainty. Agile estimation is more like a team game, with each team member raising a planning poker card. Each card has a number – a value from the oh-so-familiar Fibonacci series. It represents the estimated weight of the work required to deliver a certain user story in the card holder’s perspective. The team then decides on the tasks to be taken into the next sprint considering the team’s velocity and certain other factors. To see the fact that they actually follow the process of raising a card with fibonacci numbers as we’ve read in books is quite interesting. I have to admit, we had more fun than we were supposed to with the cards in the first session.

Throughout the sprints we continuously got our work reviewed by our supervisors. We’d complete a user story, make a pull request and continue with the next story in the sprint while they review our work. The seniors’ feedback and guidance was a tremendous support for our constant improvement. One of the things I observed while at  Sysco Labs is that the interns are treated just like regular employees – we are held accountable just as much as anyone else, we do real work that gets pushed into production. And then some.

Our supervisor started a new initiative of having a weekly Q & A session for all developer interns with its main goal being that we solidify the fundamentals of certain topics. Each one of us were given a topic under which he/she had to come up with questions and discuss them with fellow interns. So far we have participated in one such session on Object Oriented Programming principles where the questions touched many subtle points that taught us a number of interesting facts.

It has been a busy month indeed, but we didn’t forget to enjoy ourselves. Whenever we got the chance we would go to the games room to play a round of carom or table tennis.To realize that only a few months are left in our internship makes us pretty sad. We’re truly delighted with the challenging atmosphere at the company and the wonderful individuals we’ve worked alongside.

 

The Series

The Sysco Labs Intern Diaries chronicles the experience of being in an internship program at Sysco Labs and is written by our interns themselves. It will be periodically updated by the interns while they go through this six-month program with us.

The Interns

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