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Summer PHP Internship - The Backend Perspective

Boris Denković, PHP Intern

9 min readJul 06, 2021.

Laptop and a backpack on a desk next to a coffee mug

What were your expectations when you first applied for the Mad Duck Code internship?

I was sending applications left and right really, just hoping to land an internship since I couldn’t graduate without it. I really wanted to get into the industry, so I was applying and before Mad Duck, I had one other interview - I mean it wasn’t really an interview, I was just sent a task to do, but they weren’t satisfied with the results.

Interviewer: Good for us. (laughs)

Yea, actually I went to another interview after Mad Duck, since it was already booked, it was in a big corp, and I got that one too, but I can’t envision myself in a suit, I just don’t see myself there. And I also thought that in a smaller company, I’ll get more responsibilities. I just expected to learn how things work in an actual company, in an actual work environment, because I never had that. I learned to code and had theoretical knowledge, but I didn’t have work experience. So I just wanted to see how that was like.

Interviewer: And did you?

Yea, I mean, I think we got to work on some cool stuff, I really enjoyed working on the first project we got, the internal one. I think it was small enough for me not to lose myself and what I needed to do. It was really like, straight to the point. Like I knew what needed to be done.

books on a desk next to laptop with some code on it

What kind of difficulties did you have during the internship?

Maybe just jelling with other people. We came at the same time to the company, we didn’t know each other, and everyone was a bit insecure - like if they can do it, if they are going to fit in and all that...It was really weird.

What part of the internship did you like the most?

I really liked how mentorship worked, the fact I was sitting right next to my mentor and that I could ask him anything and I would get a reply in normal time. Even when my mentor moved to another office, I could still go and ask him whatever and he would be over to my office in five minutes. That part was really well done, I really enjoyed that perk of the job.

How does it feel like to be a part of the duck team?

People are great here, and from a professional side - they are doing a great job and I can see the eagerness to improve, as well. They all have a huge potential. That’s why I am happy to be a part of it. The company is going to do great things, that’s my opinion, honestly.

four people in an open space office working together

Describe the project you were working on.

It was like a room assignment thing, and the app is supposed to show which offices are busy at what time during the day. Also, you can book a room for the meeting or something. It’s supposed to help the company know when there is something going on in that office, not just keep asking around all the time. It makes sense, especially since the company is growing, so it’s really going to be important. When it comes to the meeting itself, you can set it up to be online or in person, and if it’s in person the app will tell you the room is taken, if it’s online you are going to have the link in the meeting description. Backend was done in PHP, Laravel, that was my job, Angelina was on Flutter and Mobile, and Petar on React for frontend stuff. In my opinion, those technologies work pretty well together. All in all, the project went smoothly, at least before Petar was transferred to another project; after that, we ran a bit behind schedule. I just wish we completed our goals fully, but it is what it is.

Interviewer: Those things happen, it‘s nothing to worry about. That was a great success for your first time on a real project and I hope you are satisfied as we are.

Definitely. And I am on another project now and everything is going great.

laptop with some code on it

What was the most challenging part of the project?

Well…First of all, I have never worked in Laravel in particular, I wrote some vanilla PHP stuff before, just straight up PHP, I mean yea, that helps, but in the end, you need to know how the framework works before you can actually use it properly and utilize all that it has to offer. So it took time and I think these were the biggest problem I had - inexperience, more than everything else. So I just needed to, like, put in the time and I think the actual framework is really, really good. I think it’s one of the best out there.

Interviewer: You mention inexperience, how about now? What new things did you learn?

Well, I am comfortable working in Laravel now. Like really comfortable. I just put in the time and the company allowed me to do that. It helped me make the most of my time, like, using it efficiently to learn the fastest possible way. And regarding what I learned… right now I have a frontend task and I am not a frontend developer - I don’t know much about frontend. But I love learning, and I think that in IT you need to be open to learning new technologies, or else you are just gonna fall behind. It’s all very similar at the end of the day, and I don’t think it’s too big of a deal to learn something else, you just need time.

typing code on a laptop; monitor with databases blurred in the backround

What would be the pros and cons of working on this project?

I don’t think there were cons, honestly. I think I just needed experience and I got it. This whole internship process was risk-free for me. I could always walk out; I didn’t feel any pressure going into it. There is only good that can come from this, even if it didn’t work out, I mean it did, but I and the company didn’t have to be a match, and I would still gain experience. So no cons, and pros… well, experience working with people, working in the real environment. And we learned about Scrum. Of course, we gained some knowledge about it at university, but I didn’t know the roles, and we didn’t utilize it a lot. We just learned about it in theory. Now that I am working on a real project, I really understand how it works and why it’s there.

Agile is, for now, the best you can do in software development. It makes the most sense. At the end of the day, software development is a long process, and when that is the case, you don’t want to do all of it and then go back and fix mistakes, it makes no sense. So agile makes the most sense.

Will you continue expanding your backend knowledge or would you like to try out other technologies as well?

Right now, I enjoy backend way more. It’s more calculated and way less prone to surprises, right, it is predictable. You know what you’re gonna get most of the time. And frontend just seems very hellish to me, honestly. But I don’t mind learning it. I can complete a few tickets here and there. And technology-wise…we have Python developers and .Net developers in the company and I think both are really good to know.

laptop and two people explaining something to one another

Do you feel ready to start working in the most promising industry in the region?

When I finish this month of the internship, we’ll see. Right now I feel like I am ready, at least from the backend perspective. I still have some frontend tickets and I don’t know what I am doing, but we’ll see about that part… (laughs)

Interviewer: So, what’s your next step?

My next step is to balance work and college until I finish my last semester. It’s a bit stressful, here I work on a serious project and in school, well it’s my final year so...I don’t sleep too much right, but I know that’s gonna change so I am just going to focus on one task at a time. In general, I plan to get really good at what I know now, expand my theoretical knowledge software architecture-wise, learn new technologies, etc.

What would be the best way to expand your current knowledge and what types of learning medium do you prefer?

For the theory part, books. I think there is a lot of knowledge there that I didn’t yet tap into because I don’t use a lot of literature now. I don’t have much time to read now, so I just stopped, but I plan to continue when I get some free time.

Interviewer: Sounds great, I hope you’ll find more time to read.

Me too, but if you keep giving me frontend tasks, I am not so sure. (laughs)