Employers indicate that internship experiences are one of the most important factors hiring managers consider when considering recent college graduates for full-time employment -- ManTech included. The company boasts a robust internship program for students seeking challenging opportunities in several disciplines, including cyber, data collection and analytics, enterprise IT, and systems and software engineering.
Q: What college do you attend, graduation year and major?
A: I am a computer science major at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, expecting to graduate in 2020.
Q: Was your ManTech internship what you expected?
A: Coming into Washington, D.C., for the internship program this summer, I wasn't sure what to expect. ManTech is a relatively large company and frankly, that kind of worried me. I wanted to be involved in meaningful software development; the kind of development I figured I couldn't do as a small cog in a large machine. However, the experience I had this summer was nothing like that, which is exactly what made it so pleasant.
Q: What was one thing you learned that you didn’t think you would?
A: The one thing I learned that I didn’t think I would was good code and project documentation.From the get-go, supervisors asked me to document my code, which I thought meant the tedious task of explaining the code nearly line-by-line. But they quickly corrected this notion and explained that your code should largely speak for itself, and that the documentation should fill in the gaps. Though that advice applied directly to how I was documenting code, I believe it also made me a better programmer because it forced me to make my intentions known through writing clean and clear code. The more readable code and concise comments made my code documentation digestible.
Learning good project documentation stemmed from handling projects that would be used by others. I found that when I was the only person who needed to know how to use a project I was developing, I skimped on documents a lot of the details and would only write what I was likely to forget. This approach is detrimental to others who need to use those projects. While the details might not be especially useful to me, they are vital to someone picking up my project from scratch. I constructed robust documentation for those projects after receiving feedback from coworkers using my projects, which clearly illustrated how to start using and understanding them effectively.
Q: What did you most enjoy about your ManTech internship?
A: As I shared my supervisors before I left, I valued the freedom they gave all interns to execute solutions. They gave us an end goal and wanted us to carve the path toward that goal as we saw fit. Though they were often available for questions, I rarely felt like I needed to go to them for guidance. They gave me the power to take action on my own and consequently have full responsibility for the decisions I made. Their leadership allowed for a lot of creativity and flexibility, which I feel helped all interns in finding strong solutions.
Q: How did your internship experience support your current educational goals?
A: I gained vital software development experience, which has been extremely useful in many ways for my educational goals. Computer-related majors are unique in that an overwhelming majority of your education can be translated directly to a professional environment. Working at ManTech let me apply a lot of what I had learned throughout the school year, which enabled me to see the context for which those concepts were useful, as well as reinforce the usage of those concepts.
Q: What recommendations do you have for other students about maximizing their internship experience?
A: Make the most of the time you have by working hard and paying attention. What you can learn during your internship usually you cannot learn while at school and it is valuable – both toward your educational goals and your eventual career.