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Fruitful and inspiring internship with Touchnote :)

June 17th, 2010

This is a very belated internship Touchnote review.

It has been a while since I updated my blog with, what I find, share-able posts. My life as a student can be quite hectic but now I found the time to concentrate on writing about a very fruitful period of my life; my internship with Touchnote.com.

After I left my previous internship earlier I gave myself 3 weeks to find a paid internship in London, else I’d go back to Holland to find one.

I applied to several paid internship jobs in London as web developer. A web dev agency was interested and Touchnote, which I found on GiveMeaStudent (disappeared all of a sudden).  It took me a few days to decide with which company I’d like to work with. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end I chose Touchnote for it was closer to home (still quite far though), I enjoyed my communications with them, having a smaller team I expected a more personal approach. Touchnote was interested in meeting me so I arranged an interview asap.

My first English job interview

Obviously I had a horrible Dutch accent but my interview with Touchnote was very pleasant. I spoke with the CEO and the lead developer.  The chat with the lead developer was interestingly perfect! The type of questions asked by him gave me an idea of their way of working, professionalism and their knowledge regarding web development. What they could offer me was exactly what I was looking for! Now I just hoped that I could offer them what they were looking for. I was quite insecure to be honest. I had no portfolio to show that I am well or reasonable capable of using PHP, MySQL, CSS and HTML. I could only explain what I knew and did, what my experiences with PHP were sand what I wanted to learn.

After a week I heard the good news! I could stay in London!! Yeh.. now I couldn’t wait to get started.

The dev team and me

Feeling a bit insecure I hoped to be able to live up to their expectations. They sure lived up to mine. I got all the support I needed; during work and for school. I made some errors and felt very ashamed and I also made successes. The dev team was always open to my questions as well as to my suggestions. They were very clear in their expectations and in explaining different things. I could ask the same technical question like 3 times and still they wouldn’t be fed up with me :)

Due to my previous internship experience I actually expected not to be taken seriously because I was just an intern. To my surprise; my suggestions, ideas and opinions were taken seriously and I was more than just an intern.

I worked with new tools to help with the development of the website. I learned new coding tricks and more about Cake, JQuery and 3rd party API’s. I had the chance to apply my own SEO skills and on top of that I learned new, never heard of before, SEO strategies.

I tasted a bit of how the lead developer plans projects in an Agile, SCRUM, way; how to realistically estimate the time of each project. From start to finish I experienced how a lead developer manages it’s team and how he can get desired results from its team when time is limited. How to look at problems and how to try to tackle them. This is definitely something I’ll always take with me if I ever get a leading or managing role of any kind in my life. His managing capacities to me are a very important lessons, so is everyone else’s role within the company.

I’ll remember the deployment evenings/nights. The days working towards them were hard work but the deployments were always good fun and usually came with pizza or snacks as well :)

The rest of the Touchnote team

I am surprised how everyone in the company communicates very well and clearly. I think I always knew what everyone was up to, everyone was always well informed, we knew how the paths forward looked like, what the next steps were, what expectations are and no surprises other than good surprises. It is very fascinating and again very important entrepreneurial lessons for me. Examples of good behaviour is very important for my learning progression :)

Never was I asked/demanded to get coffee for the team :) never did I felt being treated as “the intern” or “the student”. Such a delight!

I was offered to stay after my internship but decided to go back home and continue school. It wasn’t an easy decision but school is something that has priority now. I just want to get over with it first.

Conclusion

I honestly could not have hoped for a better internship. I learned a lot; gained real practical experience with a professional company. It was fun and gave me more confidence in my role as web developer. Every person in the whole Touchnote team is very devoted to the company, hard working, professional, reasonable, fun, well mannered, respectful and friendly. What more does one need?

I sincerely hope that any future web dev intern will have similar positive experiences.

Thank you Touchnote Team!!

Side note to all students looking for internship in London

Key is to search well and thoroughly, apply to different internship jobs… It is possible to find decent, good and even paid internships if you are determined and know what you are looking for..don’t compromise in that! If I am able to accomplish what I was looking for then you sure can too.

My personal points of improvement

After this experience I thought of new challenges that I’d like to pursue.

Obviously some more web development skills; website architecture, JavaScript (or JS libraries), advanced CSS. I quite like to learn more about ZendFramework and more more hard core Linux commands!! That is so awesome.

Believe it or not. I quite like to be a (junior) project manager at least once in my life. For that I seriously need to work on my English communication skills; explaining technical situations to web novices at any time. Be able to clearly explain situations: what do I expect and what is happening, what do I do and what are my expectations.

I’d like to become more British in how I communicate :) so more British accent is coming! Bye bye Dutch accent.. Tot ziens!

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Personalise your greeting cards with Touchnote

June 11th, 2009

Now is the time to tell you something about the company that is brave enough to have my around as a web developer intern ;) Touchnote.com

What can Touchnote do for us

Who doesn’t like to receive a personal card? Everyone likes to receive a greeting, anniversary, birthday, thank you, I love you or a “just to say hi” card from friends and family. Stores have racks full with cards you can choose from for plenty occasions. But it is now time for an other type of card, the delightful little Touchnote card!

Touchnote is all about personalising your card

Use any photo you have stored on your computer for your card. In the card creator you can also drag speechbubbles onto the photo to make it more personal. A few example cards using my own photos:

On the inside you can write your love message, greeting, thank you note, invitation or life story. Also unlimited smilies, hearts and mugshots with your webcam can be inserted into the inside of your card to compliment your message! :)

Don’t have photos on your computer anymore? An other key thing on Touchnote is that you can login into securely login into Facebook or Picasa. Choose a photo from one of your albums and personalise your card.

Touchnote is Web 2.0

Though people already start talking about Web 3.0, being a semantic and more personal way of experiencing the Internet, the Web 2.0 bubble is still present.

One of the key things of Web 2.0 is bridging the gap between the offline world and the online world, or standing inbetween these 2 worlds. So what place does Touchnote occupy in this Web 2.0 definition?

Well, lets see..

1. Online: You can use your own photo’s to create a personalised greeting, birthday, you name it card.
2. Offline: Create a personalised greeting, birthday, you name it card with one of the photo’s you take with you mobile phone.
3. Inbetween online and offline: This really is unique! Once you created and sent the card using your mobile phone (or online), it will be posted for you to anywhere in the world! How neat is that?

Go on and try it too! Check their website to see which mobile phone’s they currently support. There is also an online demo available. More support coming for other mobiles soon!

Note that the Touchnote for Mobile is the only Ovi Store app that ships a physical product.

Now you know what Touchnote is.. don’t be afraid to send a card yourself… click!

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Send 2 free cards with Touchnote.com – be fast

May 15th, 2009

Touchnote just tweeted:

2 free cards on www.touchnote.com coz it’s summer! Valid until Sunday. Promo code: 2-CARD-WEEKEND Please retweet!”

Yes, this means you can send 2 free real postcards to your friends, family, lover(s) … secret lover perhaps even?

You got to be quick.. this promo code lasts till Sunday.

I will send one to a friend who recently visited me in London.. still thinking to who I will send the other free postcard…

touchnote-logo

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