Intern Advice: Zachary Zoltek

Zachary Zoltek

Computer Science, College of Business, Influence, and Information Analysis

Bentley Systems - Software Intern

Going into college you have the underlying assumption that what you are learning is in direct preparation for the work that you are going to be doing on the job. You tediously memorize theories, equations and facts with the underlying assumption that one day after these four years of intense studying they will finally be of use beyond just circling a single letter on a test or filling in a small blank. I'm not here to say you're wrong - you are going to need to know the vast majority of what you are taught in higher education, but not so that you can go into a job prepped and ready to answer any question that your supervisor or customer asks you. Rather, what you learn in college is in preparation for the learning that you are going to need to do on the job after you graduate. When I took my first internship as a software engineer at Bentley Systems, I expected nothing, but smooth sailing. I had my best marks in my technical classes and I understood my domain well. I was ready to impress whatever team I was placed on for the summer. 

It should come as no surprise that this is the exact opposite of what occurred. From the very first day it felt like I had been thrown into the deep end without being taught how to swim. The sheer complexity of the entire project upon which I had to work had me reeling. My first few weeks were not spent gloriously adding to the project in substantial amounts, but rather, it was a humbling journey of learning everything that I did not know and asking numerous questions. From this arduous experience, I gleamed one fact that everyone should heed: never stop learning. Never. Master the domain that you have chosen. You should know it inside and out. Your job after college will be sure to unveil any holes in your knowledge incredibly quickly and if there are too many, you will sink.