Ben Maitland started his Student Researcher position at WIMTACH in 2020. In the role of a full stack developer, he became a valuable member of the WIMTACH research team and contributed to projects with high profile clients. His combined studies in the Software Engineering Technology Co-op program at Centennial College and his internship at WIMTACH, helped him to develop transferrable skills that he still uses today. “I feel good going into another professional position,” he said.
At WIMTACH, Ben proved to be an invaluable member of the research team while working on a project collaboration with Interdev Technologies Inc. As a result, early on in his internship, he was promoted to a student team lead role. Under the supervision of a WIMTACH research lead, he was enabled to gain project management skills and gain experience with responsibilities such as coordinating meetings, preparing for daily standups, delegating tasks and orienting a team of students towards a focus for different project requirements. He also had the opportunity to train new student hires in the project. “It was nice to get to work with new [students] because I enjoy teaching,” he said. Ben developed leadership skills and team working skills as he also supported other students in the project. In fact, he was often approached by his teammates when they faced problems with React hooks. “People were really appreciative when they could help each other,” he said.
Ben had the opportunity to work on a variety of innovative projects at WIMTACH including a project called Wavez, Orbbit, along with a project collaboration with Dicentra. With each project he was able to learn a new skill and become more familiar with technical tools such as React. He felt that WIMTACH provided the invaluable opportunity to learn high level skills. “Most places if you’re hired as a junior dev, you’re going to be doing like code maintenance, bug fixes,” he said. “But at WIMTACH you can come on and pretty quickly you’re doing like … a custom video calling messaging app … which you would never be doing as a junior dev at other places.”
This type of exposure to high profile work encouraged him to seek challenging roles and importantly, primed him with the skills to become a well-rounded React developer. Through his acquaintance to development problems and challenges, he felt that he was eased into the responsibilities of a professional developer. “Doing work with WIMTACH definitely made me feel more comfortable with taking a position that has higher expectations,” he said. “Working with WIMTACH I’ve encountered so many problems that were specific but also kind of common enough for React developers to have all had similar experiences and the only way you get ready for these positions is to have had those problems come up and have resolved most of them.”
His Student Researcher position helped him to become comfortable with version control, it helped him to gain an understanding of documentation, how to work with and modify package managers as well as how to work with different development libraries. “Being able to build different branches and stack changes … is really really useful and something that you don’t really get working on [personal] projects but it’s really needed in the industry,” he said. “It’s just nice using all of the industry standards.”
Overall, Ben learned a lot from his internship position and often thinks fondly about some of the most memorable moments in his internship. He especially enjoyed creating demos for clients because creating demos enabled him to envision how a project would be scaled. It excited Ben to be part of the process of a project’s cycle from an idea to a finished application. “Finding all of the different things that need to be used to scale was kind of nice,” he said.
Ben was also pleased to know that at the end of each project, his contribution was used by different industry professionals in their business. It helped to boost his confidence in his work. “[When you] have more confidence that you’re creating things that are up to the standard and they’re functioning well, it’s really gratifying,” he said. “Once you’ve built it for one client, the idea that you can do the same thing somewhere else is really nice.”
Ben plans to continue learning as a professional developer. He will join Xello Inc. as a Front-end Developer and he attributes his success in finding this position to WIMTACH and he hopes that other students will find an internship at WIMTACH helpful in their learning journey as well. “The difference is night and day between studying software stuff and actually doing it,” he said. “It’s nice getting the hands-on [learning] experience.”
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