To Affinity and Beyond: Thoughts from my Internship Hey, everyone, thanks for clicking on my blog post! A bit about myself — I’m a CS student currently taking a gap year before finishing out my senior year of college. After switching from pre-medicine to CS my junior fall and completing an internship with a big bank that […]
Hey, everyone, thanks for clicking on my blog post! A bit about myself — I’m a CS student currently taking a gap year before finishing out my senior year of college. After switching from pre-medicine to CS my junior fall and completing an internship with a big bank that summer, I wanted some time to explore and learn as much as possible in the tech field (and pursue my other passion in dance)! In this post, I just wanted to take a minute to talk about my spring internship at Affinity in San Francisco!
Of course, I want to preface this assuring you that everything here is my own opinion, no matter how glowing the endorsements are — I really did just like it that much here! Read on to find out what Affinity does, what I worked on, what a day at work was like, what makes the company different, and what I learned from my time here.
Affinity is a platform that uses data from your communication streams to help you understand and manage your connections. Started in 2015, founders Ray Zhou and Shubham Goel envisioned a world where anyone could achieve their goals — land a dream job, close big deals, or start a company —by using their networks to have the right resources at the right time. It’s this vision that guides Affinity to this day: using technology to harness your most valuable resource — your network.
Affinity as a company is still pretty young and lean, but scaling quite rapidly. In just 10 weeks, I saw it grow in almost every aspect — new hires, evolving features, and uncharted markets. To me, a smaller startup with this kind of upward trajectory was the perfect place to learn as much as possible and really understand a growing company — exactly the kind of opportunity I was looking for during my gap year.
It honestly baffles me to look back at how much I grew as an engineer in just 10 weeks at Affinity. I learned a whole new programming language (Ruby), grew more proficient in frontend development using Typescript, React, and Redux, and even learned a bit of SQL and system design as I learned how each component of Affinity’s architecture fits together. I worked on a variety of projects as well: mobile development, implementing new features on their core web product, and developing their relatively new Alliances initiative!
With so many resources out there, you really don’t need an internship to learn and practice a new programming language. However, there are some things that you can only learn by working on a living codebase — one that grows, changes, and needs to be maintained. Because Affinity is both relatively young and scaling relatively quickly, I could observe their distinct focus on good programming practices: establishing standards of clean code, codebase design, and naming conventions in addition to the effective enforcement of these standards. At the end of the day, these development frameworks are definitely the most valuable technical lessons I took from my internship at Affinity.
So what does a day in the life of an Affinity software engineer look like? It definitely varies by the day, and this variety is what made the experience so interesting — so maybe think of this as a bit more of a sample platter of a day at Affinity!
Maybe you could get a sense from the previous section, but Affinity does things a bit differently. My previous software experience included internships at both a major bank and a 10-person crypto startup, and Affinity is certainly nothing like any other company I’ve worked for.
In just my first weeks, what really stood out to me was how well they take care of new hires. Their onboarding process and tasks to help familiarize me with the codebase was incredibly streamlined and helpful (shoutout to Hansen on this one — check out his post to learn more)! But at the same time, it was also very holistic — part of my onboarding included shadowing sales pitches and customer success calls, which helped me really understand the company as a whole, not just the engineering team.
Throughout the internship, it was clear that Affinity really cared about you as an individual. Rather than just making sure I pushed code, my manager Shrey would meet with me to give me feedback on my work, have conversations to get to know my background and what motivates me, and to even give me career advice and make an action plan for my next few years. Since I was just an intern only there for 10 weeks, Shrey really didn’t have to do any of that — but it was something I really appreciated.
Truly, what really made this internship special was the people. The team is relatively young, but consists of some of the most welcoming, intelligent, and passionate people I’ve ever met. These are people who could not only help me with a nasty Redux bug or diagnose some erratic Sequel queries, but also DJ a trap set at a club, write their own alternative and jazz music, perform magic, go to a dance class with you, or teach you how to cross-stitch at art club!
Not to mention the variety of team bonding events I was a part of in my short time here — a company 10K, a week-long engineering team hackathon, a San Francisco scavenger hunt, and even a trip to Daly City for some axe throwing!
What underlies all of this is Affinity’s focus on its five core values — from interviews to public shoutouts on Slack, they were apparent throughout my experience. Personally, just working with this engineering every day proved that Affinity not only looks for people who are always learning and take pride in their work, but will also care about you beyond work, doing whatever they can to help you and the company succeed.
When finally making the decision to take a gap year, I had one broad goal in mind: to not waste it. So I flew back home to Orlando in November, and (between numerous games of Catan with my family) promptly spent all my time recruiting for internships for the fall, spring, and summer. After spending the winter at a crypto startup in NYC, I was fortunate enough that Affinity allowed me to join as an intern for the spring. So before I go, I just want to offer a bit of advice to anyone who may also be in the internship hunt!
Thanks for reading, and huge props to Affinity for making my time in SF special!
To Affinity and Beyond — Thoughts from my Internship was originally published in Affinity on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.