Its nearly impossible to know what to expect from day one on a new job, especially when its your first professional job. There is the cliche of getting coffee and making copies as the new intern, which I’m sure is something that actually happens to a few individuals out there. I was confident that that wouldn’t be my reality. Thankfully it was far from it.
My first day started off pretty typical, getting to the office around 9, standing around awkwardly, very briefly mind you, until I was shown the way to my desk. I was handed a laptop and the name of the person I’d be working with. Turning on my laptop, I got set up with my Google Account and sent my co-worker (an exciting word to get to say) a message. He responded promptly and told me I’d be working on something called Amazon Web Services. We got me set up with an account and I was given the somewhat vague instruction to set up an EC2 instance and that I’d check back in before lunch. I set forth with my task and just started clicking on buttons to see what would happen. I fairly quickly came upon a big blue button that read “Launch Instance.” This seemed promising. I was given one of those “Launch Wizard” type things that just walked me through the process. Reading the pages, I clicked my way through a few different options, Instance type, Key pairs, Security Groups. I recognized the words more often than not, and could generally tell what they meant, but there were a few things I didn’t quite piece together. Once I got this so-called instance up and running, I apparently needed to connect to it. I just used the terminal provided by Amazon. I was eventually greeted with the familiar Linux Terminal. I happily threw out a few silly little commands just to see if I could. Obviously I could seeing as it was actually a functioning Linux machine, but at the time I was just excited to have done something that worked.
By now, it was about time to check in. I informed him of my accomplishments and was told I had to terminate it. All part of the learning thing. He then asked me what I thought Cloud Computing was, now that I had played with it some. I had one of abstract understandings of what Cloud Computing is. I answered as simply as I could, “Cloud computing is, rather than using your own physical resources, like on site servers, you use space and resources from someone else. In short at least.” Not quite satisfied with that answer, I was told to keep pondering it. After a lunch I was given slightly different and slightly less vague instructions. This time I was to set up an instance Programmatically via a provided Amazon SDK in the language of my choosing.
Being most familiar with academia Java, I downloaded Eclipse and got to work. After a few moments of staring blankly at my workspace, I figured a few Google searches were in order. I spent some time attempting to read some documentation but I was never one to read and learn, so I just started coding. Here I was, only about five hours into my first day and I was coding! I fumbled my way through some lines, tested some things out. I was making progress now and then. I was running into issues, doing some searches, finding some answers. Eventually I hit some roadblocks I couldn’t quite figure out on my own so I turned to my colleague for some help. I filled him in on my progress and and told him about my problems. We communicated back-and-forth. Looking at error messages, trying out a few suggestions, both his and mine. Simply put, it was awesome to troubleshoot like that. I felt for a bit like I was doing something real. I still knew that this was just “training” and “learning,” but it was incredibly rewarding very early on. After an hour or two, and a few screen shares later, I get a message from him that simply said, “I know what the problem is.” Turns out he made the same super simple mistake I had made. We fixed it, laughed about how the answer is almost always foolishly simple.
We then wrapped up the day with the question I had failed to answer earlier. “What is cloud computing?” This time I answered with, “access to data/resources from anywhere. flexibility as to what resources can be used.” Apparently this answer was a bit closer. He suggested the analogy of it being just like any other utility service, like water or electricity. You get this awesome thing that always works, but you don’t have to worry about where it comes from, how it set up, and if something breaks, you don’t have to deal with it.
So in short, my first day felt very much like a real work day, even though I hadn’t been trusted with any real projects yet, I had been given tasks that felt relevant and useful. I learned more in those few short hours than I ever expected to. I went home with a smile on my face and the knowledge that not only was I working for an awesome company, I had definitely chosen the right major and the right path for me. I was excited to see what I would get to learn tomorrow.