SharpTop Intern Spotlight: Ryan Pelletier

At SharpTop Company, mentorship and teaching are critical aspects of our business. We work hard to train interns and apprentices in the same way that our mentors and teachers taught us when we were first starting out in the industry. By sharing our knowledge, we not only help local youth learn new skills, but also help them gain hands-on and real-life experience in the industry before entering the workforce. Every few months, we would like to feature a new intern or apprentice who is currently working with us. This time, we’d like to recognize Ryan Pelletier.

Ryan started interning at SharpTop in August 2014. But, as his skill set and understanding of software development excelled, he quickly transitioned from being an unpaid intern into a paid apprentice working on client projects. His motivation, drive and enthusiasm for learning new things made Ryan the perfect intern.

Here is Ryan's story in his own words:

"I was excited to have a chance to watch and learn from professional software developers, with the hope that I would be able to soon join them working on projects for their clients. I had no professional programming experience, and had taken only one programming class at the time.

When I first started working, Tony and Nick had me work on projects that were meant to help me learn the technology they were using. I began with making a simple Grails project with the Groovy language and, to be honest, I was a little disappointed to be using something I had never heard of before. I was unsure that I would have any way to apply my new knowledge if I didn’t stay at SharpTop. Looking back, I don’t think there is anything else I would have rather worked with, as Grails provides a nice abstraction layer for many popular technologies used industry wide. This allowed me to grasp concepts before understanding the tricky details behind them.

The first two months proved to be the most challenging. I found that a lot of the skills I was learning didn’t translate or crossover with what I was learning in the classroom. There were days when I dreaded coming to the office, knowing that I would spend hours troubleshooting, Googling and asking Tony and Nick questions. I can’t express how close I was to giving up, and possibly even changing my major.

It was a frustrating time for sure, but, in hindsight, I see that time as the single most beneficial timespan of learning and growth in my career thus far. As cheesy and cliché as it is, in my first two months, I learned how to learn.

I don’t know when things started to click, but about 2-2½ months in, I started to see coherency between all of the new things I was learning. Suddenly, when Tony or Nick explained something to me, it didn’t all sound as if it was spoken in some foreign language. Although there were challenges on a daily basis, I was able to work through some of those challenges without being completely reliant on the guidance of Tony and Nick. I was able to find many answers for myself. Shortly following this period, I was able to work on a small project for a client. It was extremely satisfying to know that code I had written was being used in the real world! Over the next several months, I continued to work on projects for clients, and continued to learn every single day. Most importantly, I was able to enjoy doing it!

Since August, I've learned lots of things that I haven't learned in school, including:

  • How to use important software engineering tools
  • How to apply software engineering principles
  • And, most importantly, how to solve the types of problems thatI will need to solve throughout my career

As much as I would like to take credit for all of these new skills, there is no way I would have been able to learn what I did without the instruction, support, and encouragement of Tony and Nick, as well as others at SharpTop.

When I first started out I was shocked to see how willing one of the senior developers would willingly take even an hour of their time to explain something to me.

I am extremely grateful for the time and energy they invested into passing their knowledge on to me. Every person at the company is friendly and outgoing, and I feel like I have made many friends at the company."