Engaging the Community: How Our Core Values Have Shaped Our Internship Program

Posted by Michael Bowman on October 22, 2019
Engaging the Community: How Our Core Values Have Shaped Our Internship Program

Mile 2 strives to build an organization with shared values, and we bring the same to our internship program with the goal of having a positive, long-lasting impact on our community and our people.

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Just like the organization, Mile 2’s internship program has grown and matured over the past few years. During this time, Mile 2 has developed a collaborative culture that encourages employees to support one another and collectively explore ideas and generate solutions, which fosters innovation and encourages employees to build relationships and trust across disciplines. We bring these same values to our internship program.

Mile 2’s core values:

  • Supported autonomy: we are driven, take ownership of our work, and hold each other accountable.
  • Success is a team effort: we are positive, respectful team players. We build each other up and are always ready to go the extra mile to achieve success.
  • Tangible results: we have a craftsmen’s attention to detail. We don’t ship work we aren’t proud of.
  • Humble expertise: we keep learning, teaching, and growing as individuals, as a company, and as a community.

Unfortunately, these skills can be difficult to incorporate into an educational curriculum, which in turn makes it difficult for an entry-level designer or developer to hit the ground running on a project. Writing code by yourself or designing an application solo is an entirely different experience than collaborating with a cross-functional team and communicating and validating your solutions with clients. To address this need, Mile 2’s internship program is structured around our core values to provide entry-level designers and developers an opportunity to more fully develop these skills.

Supported Autonomy

Upon starting each intern is assigned a leader who will mentor them throughout their program. For the first two weeks of the internship, participants are given access to a repository containing links to blog posts, tutorials, internal documents, and other resources to help them get up to speed on our stack and processes. During this phase and throughout, interns will have opportunities to learn from other staff at Mile 2 through peer-to-peer mentoring. For designers, this means attending the weekly design team meetings and working with peers to learn new applications and techniques used in our design process. Developers are acquainted with their team and can participate in pair programming to get up to speed with JavaScript, Sass, and React.

Success is a Team Effort

After everyone has had time to familiarize themselves with our tech stack and tools, they will be introduced to their project team which will include a product owner, tech lead, and design lead. We hold a project kick-off and begin executing the project similarly to how we run our client projects. Using one of our project templates as a starting point, features are built and delivered incrementally in two-week sprints. This keeps the pace up and teaches the team to think about how they can decompose the problem down into smaller chunks that can be built and then combined into the larger application. At the end of each sprint, the team demonstrates their progress to their internal customers. This is a time for everyone to sync up and discuss what worked on the previous sprint and provide feedback to the team on what should be worked on next.

Tangible Results

Throughout the project, our interns are exposed to our software development process. From kick-off to delivery, they have the opportunity to see how communication and collaboration contribute to delivering quality software. Designers go through the complete flow of a project, doing discovery, exploring design concepts, and creating the same deliverables we do for our client-facing projects like wireframes, mockups, and UI kits. Developers will learn how our Git flow and code review processes work and why they are critical for a successful application. At the end of the project, the interns will present the final application to the team and do a project retrospective. To date, our interns have developed a conversational user interface for a cardiac health application, a geospatial data visualization application, and a component library for internal use at Mile 2. These applications have been demonstrated at career fairs and client meetings to illustrate our capabilities and the breadth of our intern program.

Humble Expertise

Through working together to deliver a functional software application, our interns have gained valuable experience and have also had a huge impact on the culture of Mile 2, reminding us how important continued learning and growth are, at the individual and company level. The program has shined a light on the parts of our process that needed refinement and helped us continue to hone our cross-functional communication and collaboration skills. We strive to learn from every cohort of interns, and we are all appreciative of the chance to work with and learn from the many diverse people that have come through our program. Over the past two years, we have hosted sixteen interns from seven different colleges/universities. We’ve hired ten of our interns into full-time roles here at Mile 2—a 63% placement rate—and we’re looking to add more to the team soon. Community engagement and workforce development are important at Mile 2, and we hope our efforts to impart our values through the internship program will be realized not only by our company but by our community.

Connect With Us

Interested in joining us? Stay tuned for details on our upcoming cohorts on our website!

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