I want to share a few thoughts about what the last few months have taught me as an intern in the Engineering Department here at Rally, and generally why I wanted to perform a mid-course adjustment on my career.  First, though, a little about myself is probably in order.

I came to Rally from what could only be described as an academic track.  As an undergrad, I studied computer science, physics, and music (piano performance).  I then wandered through three years of accompanying choirs and musicals, teaching piano, and gigging.  Finally, my desire to “do something for the environment” led me to complete a Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.  Two post-docs later (I did do a few things for the environment, I think), I found myself wanting to reconnect with what you might call the “real world” – or the space where people actually live, and where the daily ebb and flow of our lives is expressed.

While those born later than 1990 probably don’t remember a time before the internetz, the rest of us know that the World Wide Web has sprung onto center stage and become a downright necessity of life in the 21st century.  Why?  The web provides a mechanism for the distribution of information and facilitates communication in a culturally transformative way, succeeding the invention of the printing press, the development of the telegraph and telephone, and the discovery of radio communication.  Each of these devices triggered paradigmatic change.  What better way to learn about and understand the newest and potentially most powerful tool in such a series of “firsts” than to sit down, dive in, and spend time with a company like Rally that opens its doors to those who want to learn?  And more to the point, what has it been like?

In three months, I’ve gone from the geeky “I can program Fortran 77/90 in vi!” world to one where I can now see the pieces of a web application coming seamlessly together in an amazing cooperative dance.  While I had some background in C/C++ (those old computer science days…), my new-found vocabulary now includes terms like ‘Java’, ‘ruby’, and ‘jsp.’  I’ve seen how we use a framework to manage and connect pieces that go from user interface to database and back, and why we do things the way we do.

Along the way, I’ve also picked up a few skills that eluded my academic upbringing, such as fußball.  In all seriousness, the opportunity to sit and perform pair-coding with an experienced hand in the field of web application development has been invaluable.  Beyond the technical exposure and training, though, I have seen how a functional organization comes together to solve the problems in front of it, and how to enjoy a workflow that touches lives everyday.

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