Finntern: A mythical Nordic superhero with extraordinary abilities of learning
I have been a data geek for as long as I can remember. When I was a young kid, I went through all the sports statistics I could find, remembered them by heart and calculated new ones. But it wasn't until university that I totally fell in love with data. Studying statistics and computer science gave me the understanding and tools to deal with all sorts of data. So when I had an opportunity to join Chartio's engineering team, I didn't have to think twice.
I came to Chartio through a Finnish startup internship program called Startup Life, which connects talented people to the most interesting startups in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. My interest in the program was not only about becoming a better developer. I also wanted to learn about the startup ecosystem as a whole, to scratch the itch I have towards entrepreneurship, and to network with amazing people.
So I packed my bags, flew over 5000 miles from southern Finland to beautiful San Francisco and started working at Chartio as the first Finnish intern in early January. I wanted to develop my skills as a web developer, enhance my understanding of data, and learn about the balance between engineers' desire and customers' needs.
In addition to my goals on the internship, I have had lots of fun seeing the company grow and change, almost doubling its size since I started. The beauty of startups is the agile approach to all changes, not just to developing processes.
With the support and teaching received from my coworkers, the speed of my professional development has surprised even me. I started by fixing bugs and getting familiar with the code base but got my first own project early on. I worked on Dashboard Themes, which gave me the feeling of success and happiness and taught me the importance of fast iterating. During that project I also studied data visualization design and theory to get a more thorough understanding of what makes a good data visualization.
In March, we also doubled our Finntern population at the office when Juhana joined us. Working and living on the other side of the world can be a culture shock and it's nice to have another Finn at the office to bond with. For a company like Chartio, having one Finntern is an experience - having two is an adventure.
This is the first time I've worked on a team like this, having done mostly teaching and data freelancing before. Working as an equal team member instead of being treated just as a mere intern is the key to learning while doing hard things. And the best way to learn how to solve real-world problems is to solve real-world problems while working with the best. That's why I love my internship at Chartio.