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Intern Samantha Reflects on Her TechArk Experience

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samantha-chiang
My journey with TechArk began midway through my Sophomore year at UVA. Classes had just started up again after a long winter break, and I was deep into my search for a summer internship. Luckily, my high school, Norfolk Academy, has an internship program available for both its students and alumni. This program is partnered with many different businesses in the Hampton Roads community in a variety of different fields, such as medical, engineering, or legal.

Because of my major, Computer Science, I heavily researched the companies and opportunities listed under the “Technology” section. I was immediately drawn to TechArk after researching and reading about the company values and seeing how they have served the local community. They had even worked with Westminster Canterbury, which is a nursing home right across the street from my family’s restaurant. I applied soon after.

The application process was much quicker and simpler than many other companies I have applied to, where sometimes I would never receive a response besides automated emails that they had received my application. However, when I applied to TechArk, I received an email requesting an interview only two days after sending in my application. Additionally, the interview process was relaxed and open, in comparison to the stressful environment often exuded by other interviews I have been a part of. It gave me an opportunity to express myself, explain my interests and academic achievements without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.

Within a few days, I received an internship offer. After dealing with many, many companies taking weeks to respond, or simply never responding to my application, it was refreshing to see a company treat me with such respect. Obviously, I accepted.

During my time at TechArk, I worked on creating custom WordPress templates with interchangeable page sections. I found everyone to always be friendly and open, and never hesitated to help whenever I was stuck on an issue. The person who I reported to, Matthew, would help talk me through any issues I was facing in completing my projects, offering ideas and new insights without telling me directly what to do, so that I could still find a solution independently. He was always helpful and made time for me, even though his own schedule was always packed.

The people all around the office were awesome as well, and I was lucky enough to be able to get to know them over the course of my time there. I sat next to Jolly, who always came in to the office and greeted everyone cheerfully every day. We often talked throughout the day and at one point we even face-timed her kids! (They’re adorable, by the way.) Lael came into the office not too long after I did. Even though her desk was all the way across the office, she went out of her way to invite me and Jolly out to lunch. She introduced us to Ghent and some of the amazing restaurants they have there. The Ten Top will now forever be on my list of go-to’s whenever I’m in the area again.

The time I was there passed by quickly and before I knew it, my last day was upon us. It was bittersweet. We had the monthly company meeting, where Matthew went over everything that I had been working on throughout the summer. I finished up the documentation for my project, writing it out so that whoever worked on it next would be able to understand. I went out to lunch with Lael and Jolly, and we took one last picture for memory’s sake. It was certainly a day that will always be with me.

I truly appreciate all that I learned during my short time at TechArk. The experience, as well as the people, helped me to grow and develop as a person stepping away from academia and into the workforce. I’ve certainly learned so much and developed both personally and professionally thanks to all the wonderful people there.

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