Interning at Rally
I remember finding myself in the bustling city of San Francisco on my first day at Rally. Hopping off the Caltrain, I had a stroke of luck. A backpack with the Rally logo appeared and I followed it all the way to Rally’s front office. I was greeted by a gorgeous office filled with dark wood walls, glass meeting rooms, and vibrant art, which were all welcoming sights.
First days are hardly ever easy. Whether it is the acronyms you don’t know like PHI (Protected Health Information) or the names of all the people you meet, there’s a lot going on that you have to remember. Luckily, it was made much more comfortable by friendly Rallyers who kept everything moving along. We went over the first day task list which was pretty standard, aside from the training on security and privacy. Then I had lunch and got to know my team, the Android engineers for our Engage product.
My project for the Android engineering team was creating a prototype for a new feature in development. The goal was ambitious: to help people to permanently change their exercise and nutrition-related habits, progressively, all the while customizing the program around the user’s successes and setbacks… without any professional intervention. Users would be cohorted to help each other strategize and share successes and difficulties, but without a nutritionist or personal coach involved. We’d worked to identify the key components of such an endeavor, but it was unique enough that it merited a prototype to help with user testing.
My coworkers were a great help getting started. I had little experience with Android but my team lead helped me gain an understanding of how everything was built. He explained the key technologies in use and what role they played. So even though I had not heard of Kotlin, RxJava, Dagger, ButterKnife, or Adapter Delegates, I had a good place to start and a supportive team to guide me. Although I did not use everything shown to me then, I tackled problems that I wouldn’t have known existed before my internship. For instance, it had not occurred to me the steps necessary to chain animations. Should you simply have them run right after another, you run the risk of crashing your app, if the page is closed before they have finished. So instead, animations were handled with an internal library that handles animations in a reaction-based fashion with the ability to dispose or cancel a callback should it be necessary.
Developing this prototype was a new experience for me as I have never worked closely with a designer or product manager before. After receiving the specs and examining the mocks, I broke down the tasks and added costs to them. There was a back and forth between the designer to fix clunky user experiences, unexpected formatting due to content, and design changes for bits that did not feel right once implemented. The changes would not always turn out as we had planned and tweaks would have to be made. Little by little, we polished the feature by adding or adjusting the animations, style, and flows. Though my internship was brief, I got to see the feature I wrote incorporated into the product.
An Interesting part of interning at Rally is that not only are you placed on a core team but you are also a part of an intern team. This team was fully equipped with a designer, marketing, product lead, and engineers with the twist that we were all interns! We were tasked with creating an internal tool for testing design changes. Although we were the intern team, we weren’t left out to dry all by ourselves. We had some mentors who guided us through the experience and unblocked us should problems arise.
It was fun working with people having similar struggles as it was the first time working at Rally for most of us. We all got used to the technology stack together and collaborated very closely as we had a dedicated intern penthouse for us to work and bring ideas together. We had a mentor who helped us understand what needed to be done and pushed us in the right direction if we were struggling. With that guidance we were able to successfully complete our task even though our group lacked experience.
Besides working on my projects, there was also a lot of fun to be had. Rallyers have been friendly and fun to work with. They are down to talk about the latest TV shows, play ping pong, or some board games. We also had intern events set up like a trip out to a Giants baseball game. Plus, Rally seems to be in a great space in its market, working to increase the accessibility of healthcare and encouraging healthy living. I’ve enjoyed their transparency and desire to help everyone to understand the future of the company. All in all, interning at Rally was a great experience.