IBM Lab - Dublin, OH: The 10-week student internship program being sponsored by the Dublin, OH lab reached the halfway point this week. It feels like yesterday that we were celebrating the arrival of our 5 students from The Ohio State University for a week of orientation and training. In the last 5 weeks, the students have had the opportunity to grow individually and as a team. Roles and responsibilities have been organized by the team as strengths - desired learning opportunities were fleshed out against a common application goal. The reality is that a group of strangers back in June have now formed a professional bond that has proven itself in the team's attention to task and timeline.
Last week, the students and coaches celebrated the completion of iteration 1. The demonstration event enabled the students to show their progress against the sprint goals and receive feedback from various stakeholders. I found the dialogue between the students and attendees to be very revealing in terms of the students' understanding of the business problem they were tasked with solving. It was great to see the real-time reflections by the team on why they decided on one implementation versus another and how they could further improve functionality in the next iteration. As the team transitioned to iteration 2, there was a sense of pride by each student in how far he/she had come and a genuine passion to become more efficient within their professional careers.
Common with most development projects, the past iteration had its own set of challenges. The last week of iteration 1 was intense and the students learned why incremental integration testing is so important. The students got to experience the "team concept" as teammates flexed from primary responsibilities to supporting roles that would make the team most successful. These lessons are at the core of how we will measure the success of the 2012 program and future programs at the Dublin, OH lab. It is noteworthy that the students are getting the opportunity to cultivate and sharpen technical skills in an applied way. Getting to build a Java-based application involving MQ and Dojo is important, but secondary to our primary goal. Most imperative is that the program participants walk away with a sense of the discipline required to design, deliver, document, and verify software working in the agile software development life cycle. Building quality software requires planning, collaboration, and a choreographed execution by a culturally diverse team. That is the premise for this program in Dublin, OH and the experience we hope to share with the interns. Lessons that can be applied when they move into the workforce -- hopefully with IBM.