Written by Zack Chauvin, iXperience'14 (Coding), Harvard University

My year since the summer that I spent in Cape Town has been a whirlwind of developments for my career in software. Using the skills that I picked up from both taking and helping to teach iXperience, I prototyped a startup idea for a friend, received and completed my first paid web development contract, and interviewed for companies from all corners of the tech industry.

Perhaps the most exciting development however, was that by the time I was done the recruiting process, I had a couple of options for a summer internship. The fact that all of these options would be amazing opportunities to further my skills and knowledge in the field and that I can be indecisive when it comes to big decisions made it very difficult for me to decide. By consulting friends and family both in the tech industry and outside of it, I was able to figure out the metrics by which I could assess my options, and to make a decision that I feel great about.

By the end, I was choosing between three companies, all in very different stages of success ranging from a late-stage startup to a long-standing and powerful company in the industry.

While I initially leaned toward the prestige and safety of the latter, for reasons that will become clear in this post, I ended up deciding to work for Strava, the smallest and newest company among my options.

First and foremost, I picked the team of people that I was most excited to work with. From my time at iX, I knew that what is most important to a project’s success are the people that make it happen. Through the interview process with Strava, I was consistently impressed by the enthusiasm that employees had both for the product that they were creating and the community that they found at the company.

Beyond the people that work there, it’s important to personally be passionate about both the product that you’re working on and the technology that you’re using to build it. Fitness is a huge part of my life at school and during my summers, and I’m excited to work for a company that helps people to prioritize their health and strive for better results. As well, I’ll be working on their mobile platform, which means that I’ll be learning a technology that will only get more relevant as I further develop myself as a software engineer.

Finally, working at Strava will be a great way to get outside of my comfort zone. At a larger company, I could just be one of the interns and allow my work to be overlooked if it wasn’t going well. In contrast to this, at Strava I’ll be one of just a few interns who will be integrated into the engineering team and pushed to contribute new features to their main products.

My decision process was a long one, during which I wrestled with many pros and cons, and benefitted greatly from my friends and mentors who gave me great advice. I’m happy with the decision I made, as I took a risk based on what I consider to be most important. Ultimately, it was hard to make a bad choice, as no matter what happens, I’ll gain insight into the tech industry, pick up a valuable skill, and hopefully have a little fun along the way.

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