• CNgai

From College to Full-Time

Making progress while in the process...

Intention: In this transition from college to working full-time, I have wanted to articulate what it’s like starting a new job. Although I have had internships for three summers throughout college, there's so many firsts that I feel like it's easy to forget the first couple of steps that one has to take to conquer the mountain, no matter how big or small. It can definitely be overwhelming at first when you're trying to soak up all that you can but remember that you have the time and the people to help you.


How did I get here?

I interned at PayPal last summer (2018), created a legacy within my team, and was blessed with a return full-time offer as a Software Engineer post-graduation. I was able to choose my start date so I took 2.5 months off to experience a true summer, as I interned each summer, before starting!

Internship vs Full-Time

Internship: During my 12-week internship, I was working on an internal project that was practically my baby. This project was brand new and the team had never coded in React and NodeJS before as they primarily code in Java. I hadn't either but with my past experience in HTML, Javascript, and CSS, I took two weeks to learn both languages. I was the sole contributor to the repo on GitHub. In addition to learning React and NodeJS, I learned about the different products that PayPal has, the most recent acquisitions, and a bit about PayPal Credit.

Since 12 weeks isn’t a huge amount of time, it wasn’t as crucial to learn everything about the company. There were Tech talks about different PayPal products as well as a fun one-week summit where all of the interns got together for tech and product brainstorming sessions.


Full-Time: With being on one of the Credit User Experience teams, I am now collaborating with 12+ Full Stack Software Engineers spread across San Jose, Scottsdale, and Timonium. I’ve had to learn more about Git in order to create branches in my remote repo to work on my stories without affecting the main repository. During the first few weeks, I asked my teammates a lot of Git questions as I was working within remote repos and my local repo.

With the legacy that I left last summer, I wanted to be able to do even better than I did last summer. It took a couple weeks to relearn NodeJS and learn promises and async/await in Javascript.


What has helped make my transition easier is having a wonderful team who I worked with last summer and an attentive manager who I've managed to have 1:1s with to answer organizational/business questions. In addition, there were quite a few interns from last summer who received and accepted full-time offers to come back after graduation.


You can learn as much as you allow yourself to

This was the message that my manager gave me during my first 1:1 session with her. I found this to be really encouraging because the only person that can limit me from obtaining more information about the company, software frameworks, etc. is myself. College gives you the foundation that you need yet the learning doesn’t stop there. With new frameworks and libraries, you’re always learning and adapting. Especially within the first week, I was learning a lot more about the company and about PayPal Credit. It’s also ok to feel overwhelmed by the flood of information coming in. It’s a lot to digest and it’s ok to take breaks.


If you feel like you should already know X, it’s ok to take a step back and take the time needed to learn X. In this process of learning, I had to cultivate the patience to create a solid foundation of knowledge.


While developing perseverance, I came to the realization that “God wouldn’t have put you through what you can’t handle.“ I started listening to podcasts while driving on my way to work to build the confidence that I needed for the day. Eventually, my daily mantra and positive encouragement would accumulate which made it easier day by day.


While developing the motivation, I started to replace “don’t“ phrases with positive ”keep” phrases. For example, instead of “don’t belittle yourself“, I switched to “keep on encouraging yourself” because I was the main person holding myself back and restricting myself in the forms of ”don’t“ phrases.


Reach out to people

During the second week, my mentor and another team member flew out to Scottsdale from Timonium to help onboard me and another team member on StreetCred, the team name for the SCF CUE Team. While my mentor was here, I was able to get a code walkthrough as well as learn more about the product that I’ll eventually be working on. Both members always mentioned that if I had any questions, I could message them on Slack.

During my fourth week, I had a meeting with the Dev lead and a meeting with the Dev manager. The Dev lead explained more about where the team is headed in a technical aspect. With the Dev manager, we actually ended up just talking about our backgrounds and our hobbies/interests. I found that particular meeting inspiring in terms of how can we incorporate all aspects of our lives into work and furthering our products. We came across the topics of dance, traveling, and creating music via software in addition to problem-solving and coding. With dance, I have the ability to bring humanities, especially empathy, to breathe more life into technology.


© 2020 by CNgai.

Website made by Courtney Ngai

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