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Coolhead Tech's internship program got started last year and included several inbound marketing and Google Apps interns. This first "class" of part-time student intern projects has been a huge success for the business and students. They have also helped our partners and clients grow stronger.
Now he's about to embark on a career as a programmer, armed with the confidence and skills he earned at the UT and at his Coolhead Tech internship in Austin.
"I have been a Texan all my life," says the Dallas/Fort Worth area native. Aaron knew he wanted to be a programmer since high school. He wanted to study programming at the University of Texas, but because he wasn't in the top 10 percent of his class (UT admits the top 10 percent of Texas high school students) he started at Sam Houston State University where he made Dean's list). At SHSU he learned his first programming language, Java.
"I had taken all of the tech courses provided for me in high school but never any computer science." But he realized that was where his interests lay, so he looked at his options. He was reluctant to pursue a programming internship because he didn't think he had what it took. He says taking "menial jobs" instead was a mistake.
"I should have left the Jester Cafeteria sooner. The internship here in Austin is where I would learn and master the skills I wanted—and also be paid better."
During his last semester at UT Aaron finally felt confident enough to find a programming internship and headed to MadeinAustin, a yearly event connecting local technology companies with students looking for full time positions and internships in Austin.
The packed event at the Austin downtown Omni was the kickoff to 2012's ATX Startup Week and featured 80 area technology companies, hundreds of Texas' smartest programming students and an incredible after party with Austin's Suite709.
"I got several offers but there was something that struck when I met (Coolhead founder) Chris Alghini. I could tell that I would be helpful and enjoy the work, but not be too stressed out by it while also in school. We instantly hit it off and I knew I would love working for a smaller tech company and working with Web development, especially having learned Python."
"Programmers are the carpenters and masons of the 21st century. "
During his time at Coolhead Tech Aaron got to refine his Web and server programming skills. He says he learned more about server setup and maintenance than he did in some full-semester classes.
"One of the first things I was given was a little functional server used in i-frames on the site to this day, and all of the scripts were written by me. It is unfortunate that they don't teach server administration in the UTCS program, but it may be due to the need to lend a server to each student.
"At Coolhead, I had complete freedom on what platform to use as long as the task was met and, again, I had learned Python for its stability and developed support in Web scripting and using APIs, specifically Google's. The first project I did involved sending a query to a domain for its mail host service and since then I have modified it to multi-thread mass queries such as used in Big Data. The rest of my work has been in developing the automated process for clients to sign up for Google Apps service, which requires heavy use of the Google API."
Aaron says the coolest thing he has learned is how all of the Web programs tie together to provide a complex experience.
"I am fascinated with using a server and learning all the tools and abilities of the Internet, and this gave me a perfect reason to start learning what UTCS hasn't taught me. I have been given great freedom and power to pick around and see the inner workings of everything that makes Coolhead Tech tick, which has been an honor."
Aaron says Glenn Downing's software engineering course at UT is the one he most recommended for UT CS students. He learned a lot at UT, but his internship is where he got his "real-world" hands-on experience.
Aaron is wrapping up his days at UT and his internship at Coolhead Tech. He is on the lookout for a full-time job and already has a lot of leads. He wants to stay involved in Web development and hopes to work for smaller, "less corporate" companies—hopefully somewhere in Austin.
"Once I pay off my student loans and have some footing, I will surely delve into startups and true innovation."
Aaron says Coolhead Tech is a great place for a Google internship because your school schedule is taken into account; as long as you can do your share of the work it "will all work out."
"You will be treated as a person and not an underling in a system. This is truly a different internship than the big corporations, who take dozens of interns as teams and work you regularly. It's a great experience. You will learn a lot of useful skills that aren't in the UTCS curriculum but are important to the modern programmer."
He says Chris at Coolhead has dozens of awesome stories about his ventures in the computer science world; he's a great inspiration and role model.
What advice does Aaron have for young people considering computer science as a course of study?
"I preach to everyone around to learn CS, because with it you can do anything in the modern world. If you don't know what to do with your life but want to get skilled, learn programming," he says. "You can do anything and it is a fulfilling job. Programmers are the carpenters and masons of the 21st century."
As the first class of Coolhead Tech interns flies away from the nest for post-college careers, we will continue to seek and train new interns in 2013. The benefits of interning with Coolhead include schedule flexibility and a stipend/spending money. But the real value comes from learning hands-on inbound marketing, programming, HubSpot training and planning and executing marketing campaigns. Give us a call or an email if you're interested in knowing more about how the program works—we'd love to meet you