Alexa's Dev Blog

Interns, Take Notes


Interns, Take Notes

I used to think taking notes was silly. Scribbling in a notebook just seemed like a way to make people believe you were paying attention. Especially, in work environments.

The Lure

As an intern starting at a new company, you get a lot of information thrown at you. Logging work hours, accessing environments, and scheduling meetings are some of the housekeeping things that a manager goes over with you usually in the first week. These tend to be the “easy” things to remember because you do them daily.

But being able to remember these trivial tasks, gets your ego going. And soon, you think you can remember the other stuff.

Write It Down

At my first internship, I fell into this trap. I was in a call with my manager going over how to create a new web app on the dev server. The steps were as follows:

  1. Connect to the dev server via ssh
  2. Go to /var/www/long/directory/name/webapps and create a new directory for the app
  3. Create an index.html file in the app directory
  4. Copy in the style library, jquery cdn, etc
  5. Oh, and don’t forget to change the permissions & user group on the app directory

These steps are boiled down, and deal with just the creation of the web app. There were a whole different set of instructions for deploying to production. My manager walked me through this process and I felt it was simple enough. It was stored in my brain forever. Because that’s definitely how memory works.

The next week I was given another web app to build. I connected to the dev server and… I forgot the path to the webapps directory. To be fair, I was new to Linux servers and how the company structured their file system. I felt awkward reaching out to my manager because they had just told me how to do this last week. This isn’t a huge deal if you forget once, but if it happens on a regular basis, managers are bound to get frustrated. Who enjoys repeating themselves?

Don’t get me wrong. You shouldn’t be scared to reach out to your manager for help. But before you do, you should try to exhaust all other resources. This is so you don’t come off as ill-informed or even lazy.

It can also make it seem like you can’t follow instructions and lack an interest in your work. From a companies perspective, how can an intern do the hard tasks if they struggle with the simple things?

In my case, my manager was nice enough to go over the process again. However, this time I made sure to take notes. Everyone takes notes differently. My mother prefers a notepad, my roommate has a library of sticky notes, and I type my notes in Obsidian. Don’t be afraid to take notes your way.

Using this “Second Brain” technique to remember things has drastically increased my efficiency and confidence in the work place. So don’t be lazy, cut your brain some slack, write stuff down, and you’ll thank yourself later.