Summing up the virtual summer

Summer came and went - and so did our interns. But what was it actually like to be part of our first ever virtual internship?

Did you read our last story where you could meet our virtual interns? Have you been eagerly awaiting the follow-up to hear how it all went down and what their verdicts are? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for!

We headed down the internet highway to check in on some of our interns again, to find out if this summer lived up to their expectations. First one up: Sylvi Huynh. 

“Summer really flew by quickly. It’s been challenging and I’ve learned a lot but we also had a lot of fun,” Sylvi smiles.

Together with her teammates, she’s been working on creating a web-app to use in Lean value stream mapping. But there’s a plot twist: none of them had any prior experience with web development.

“In the beginning we spent quite some time on just learning new tech and languages. But we quickly began coding and it was really exciting to see all the progress we made. We got a lot of responsibility right from the start which was very motivating.” 

Sylvi Huynh

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Sylvi had her very first internship ever this year, and was worried a virtual internship might end up feeling lonely. Turns out, it ended up being the opposite! The full team had daily meetings and Sylvi and her closest collaborator Håkon were never far apart. 

“Early on we decided to have a Teams call going for the entire day, to simulate sitting next to each other. Then, we could just talk or ask questions when we wanted. It was almost like sitting together,” she smiles.

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Screenshot from the Lean Value-stream mapping demo.

The Value Stream Mapping team were disciplined and handled the virtual work day well. They were open and eager to learn new tools and technology, possessed good communication skills as well as good leadership skills. The prototype VSM tool they delivered will play an important role in our upcoming continuous improvement work. We are impressed with their delivery. “

Elisabeth Siem, Lean Value Stream Mapping (VSM) mentor

An augmentation to the project

Ola Alstad spent the first part of the summer working with AR, but a couple of weeks in he was asked to join another project - the “Equinor Subsea Shuttle” prototype. Ola had been spotted on LinkedIn By Øystein B. Utbjøe, who saw that he had experience working on underwater drones. Ola and the rest of the team got to work on improving web-visualization for the drone. 

They wanted to challenge themselves by using a different stack than they already knew, but at the same time they had to find one that wasn’t too challenging to use. After all, they had to get a product finished.

“We knew what we wanted to do, but all of the steps in getting there were entirely up to us. We were given a lot of freedom and responsibility, but since we had experience it wasn’t as intimidating."

Ola Alstad

They, like Sylvi’s team, had daily Teams calls to simulate an office landscape - making it easy to just ask questions when they popped up. Ola explains that as virtual interns in IT they weren’t lacking the tools to get the job done, but that they were missing out on everything that comes a long with working in an office.

“But if it’s like this next year as well it might be good to be in the offices for at least a part of the time if possible. It would mean we could meet other people and learn what they’re doing more easily,” Ola says.

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The project Ola was originally part of focused on using AR to better give a sense of scale to objects.
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Ola had quite the view from his home office outside of Trondheim.

The project Ola was originally part of focused on using AR to better give a sense of scale to objects.

Ola had quite the view from his home office outside of Trondheim.

Exceeding expectations

Ola wasn’t the only intern to switch to the “Equinor Subsea Shuttle” prototype project this summer. He was joined by Michael Hoyer, who was also picked up from LinkedIn. 

“Getting asked to join this project out of the blue was definitely a highlight of my summer. It was fun to see that there were people eager to see who we were as interns and saw an opportunity for us,” Michael explains. 

When he first got the message that this year's internships would be virtual, he was happy to have an internship but also eager to see what it would be like.

“I was a little worried how relevant our tasks would be, what working from home and working in these teams would be like, but the internship exceeded my expectations. I’m really glad that I got this opportunity.”

Michael Hoyer

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While they had to do a lot of the work on their own, they weren’t left alone to sail the seas autonomously - like the drone is scheduled to do. Michael explains that the mentors they were working with were never far away, which gave them a sense of belonging to a team.

“We were very fortunate with our mentors, but organizing an internship like this is very reliant on good mentors. I heard of some teams who didn’t have as much follow-up from their mentors as us, which can make work a lot harder,” Michael says.

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During the demo, Michael took part from his home office in Eastern Norway.
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While the other team members and participants took part from all over Norway.
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Even though they weren't next to the prototype in Stavanger, they could all control it. Which made for quite an entertaining demo!

During the demo, Michael took part from his home office in Eastern Norway.

While the other team members and participants took part from all over Norway.

Even though they weren't next to the prototype in Stavanger, they could all control it. Which made for quite an entertaining demo!

“The team I mentored did exceptional work and faced every challenge head on. Even though they have a lot to learn still, they possess a skill crucial to working in IT: learning on their own. I wouldn’t have any issues bringing them along as part of a team later on.”

Ole Martin Gjersvik, Azure IoT and Equinor Subsea Shuttle-prototype mentor

Perfectly sized teams

Erling Olweus was working on one of the WebViz projects. Their goal was to create a Dash-component to model subsurface data in web applications. He chose the project to be able to work more with Javascript and React, which he’s had plenty of opportunity to do. And after a while, another intern team started using their component in their work. 

“This gave us real user feedback and even more insight in what functionality our end-users would need. It was really exciting to take this feedback, apply it to the component and see it being used later on,” Erling says. 

Most intern teams were quite small and Erling explains that his team of three were a perfect size.

“We worked great together and really got to know each other, even though we only met virtually” he says.

And they really did contribute. Even before they began their work there were already people waiting for the upgraded component to be available.

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One of the things Erling and the team worked on was improving hillshading for the component. On the left is the old version and on the right is the new, upgraded version.
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Before and after photos of the upgraded component. More detail and information is visible in the upgraded view to the right.

One of the things Erling and the team worked on was improving hillshading for the component. On the left is the old version and on the right is the new, upgraded version.

Before and after photos of the upgraded component. More detail and information is visible in the upgraded view to the right.

"It was impressive to see the digital skill sets the students brought with them this summer. Mentoring has also been a great learning experience for us mentors as we had to work virtually and develop our own agile skill set. It has been a real pleasure to mentor the next generation co-workers this summer!"

Thorjan Knudsvik, Value Stream Mapping mentor

Not just a small cog

One of the last things they did was to restructure the repository and phase out the existing component.

“Now we know that what we made is already being used. It really feels like we’ve contributed to something important instead of just being a small cog in a big machine.”

Erling Olweus.

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“Our mentors were giving us hints on possible tools to use and how to do things, but we’ve been allowed to do things the way we wanted. Getting this level of trust was really motivating,” he adds.

Erling and his team have been running the full-day Teams calls, as well as pair programming with LiveShare. He’s also been working more with WebGL, Javascript and React. 

“I got to spend the summer working with exactly what I wanted, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m really pleased with what we created, even though I did miss being in an office at times,” Erling smiles.

We’ve definitely missed having our interns next to us this summer, but hopefully we’ll be able to welcome them back soon. Until then, stay safe and take care!

"The interns came with a variety of backgrounds (not just in Teams!) and it was very interesting to see what they came up with. They had a very steep learning curve since it was all new tech, but they handled it very well and made great progress during the summer."

Nicholas Dalhaug, Lost Circulation Material-teams and Morphometric databases-teams mentor

People

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Erling Olweus

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Ola Alstad

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Sylvi Huynh

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Michael Hoyer

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