Interning at Mastercard: Software, Hardships, and Life

Photo Credit: Hannah Morgan from Unsplash

Last summer, I worked as software development intern at Mastercard, specifically on the Masterpass Merchant Portal, which serves as an online hub for onboarding ecommerce merchants that wish to leverage the Masterpass digital wallet shopping experience.

As this was my first technical internship, I learned a lot about what the software development life cycle looks like  in a corporate setting — our team followed the tenants of Agile methodology, with the ideas of stories and two week sprints. Thus, I first learned about Agile and how software development worked within an Agile team. Then, I started to learn about practices for actually developing code, such as TDD, single responsibility principle, as well as REST architecture.

Basically, every story I did reinforced the skills and concepts I was learning, and the most involved project I did at Mastercard was writing two RESTful services that were used by administrators of the Masterpass Merchant Portal. Because Masterpass had just been re-platformed, I first wrote a service for administrators that would retrieve certain information about a merchant from our databases. Then, I wrote a separate service for admins that would update the information.

However, I think the biggest learning experience for me over the summer was not what I did at Mastercard, but what I did outside of Mastercard. For the internship, I moved from New York, where I’d grown up all my life, to O’Fallon, Missouri. When I arrived, I realized my housing situation wasn’t going to work, and I also realized that I would need to drive — something that I mistakenly hadn’t thought about.

It wasn’t technical concepts that were hardest to learn — in fact, the hardest part was learning how to be scrappy in a place where I was challenged over housing, transportation, and food — things that I’d been taking for granted before. Over the summer, what I really learned was resilience in the face of unexpected adversity. I learned what it was like to move around every few days by living in a string of Airbnbs; it was too late to find an apartment to sublet by the time I arrived at Missouri. I learned what it was like to relearn how to drive after years without doing so, because I needed to be able to move to different Airbnbs and get my own food. On the last day of my internship, I was also involved in an accident, and thus I learned how to handle negotiating with rental car companies, insurance, and even the police.

I guess you could say that last summer, I learned about myself most of all. Navigating my first technical internship and a new environment altogether was definitely a challenge, but I think I came out of the experience tougher than before, and also much more aware of what kind of workplace I’d like to be part of in the future. I realized that when working, I need to be passionate about the goal of my work. I need to feel that my work in technology has a definitive social impact, that my work helps people live and empowers them to lead happier lives. I’m not afraid to be scrappy and work hard, and I’m more interested in doing quality work and making technology ethical than working just for the benefits.

Last summer, I learned to ask myself — Why am I here? Is this the future I want for myself? Is this the impact I want to have on the world? And I learned that it’s very difficult to figure all that out in a short amount of time. But answering those questions is something I’ll keep striving for, as I keep learning more about myself and the world.

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