Hi everyone! My name’s Neel Runton, I’m an eleventh grader at Research Triangle High School from Cary, North Carolina, and for the past few weeks I’ve been interning at Wrangle. Because I am in the North Carolina School of Science and Math Online Program, I was given the opportunity to join the Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program, a subsidiary of NCSSM’s Summer Research and Innovation Program. As part of this program I was chosen to intern at a Durham based tech startup and because of my interest in coding Python and curiosity about software development, Wrangle was the perfect fit for me.
When I found out I would be interning with Wrangle, I was super excited. I imagined myself working in an open area of about 15-20 people all with standing desks working at their computers – the stereotypical tech startup. I had initially thought I would only be working with one person at the company, and that since I was an intern, I wouldn’t be doing anything all that important. However, when I actually started working, I found that my experience would be much different. First, I found out that Wrangle only had 3 employees, which initially shocked me and made me reconsider how stereotypical of a startup this was, but later gave me reassurance that I would be working closely with everyone at Wrangle and that I would learn important lessons about early stage tech startups. Then, I found out that I would actually be writing code that would make it into the product. That really excited me because at that point I realized I wouldn’t be treated as an intern so much as a new employee. Finally, I realized that I would learn a lot from this experience. From working closely with everyone at Wrangle, to actually writing code in the product, to learning about the work needed to start a business, I knew that this experience would be invaluable to me.
During my time at Wrangle I have worked on a wide range of things, which is not what I thought I was going to be doing before I got here. I started off learning how data wrangling works and the Python code behind it by actually making my own program to clean a sample dataset I was given. After that, I started developing the actual code by implementing analytics into the backend of the product. During this time I became increasingly familiar with the complex code that gives Wrangle its sophistication and functionality. This period of increasing familiarity allowed me to tackle my next project at Wrangle: the names node.
Developing the names node was probably the most valuable learning experience for me. Through developing the names node I learned the complexity of not only the backend code and how it works, but also how the frontend code works and how it is possible to seamlessly integrate new functionality into the product. This was also the most rewarding experience for me because it allowed me to actually work on something visible in the product, which was something I never thought I’d be able to do. Having something I could actually see in the product after I had completed the node really showed me how much I love software development and that I could really see myself doing this in the future. After the names node was completed, I started working on a SQL query to analyze the analytics data I had gathered from the trackers I implemented in the first week. This activity was also very valuable because it taught me how to use databases, and how to further analyze data from databases using SQL.
Overall, my past few weeks interning at Wrangle has been one of the best learning experiences for me. Not only have I learned lots about software development, like how to use Git which allows me to collaborate with other developers on projects and how much work and complex code it takes to build a product that a user can seamlessly use, but I have also learned valuable skills about entrepreneurship, like how hard it is to get paying customers, and that every company starts somewhere. In addition to that, I’ve learned that I especially like working at early stage tech startups where I would have the ability to work on the entire product and communicate with everyone at the company which allows me to learn how the entire product works rather than working on one small product development team at a larger corporation where I would have very limited interaction between people outside my development team.
Thank you to everyone at Wrangle who have not only taught me these lessons, but have practically held my hand through the learning process; this experience has been nothing short of life changing.