Words of Advice From One Intern to Another: Patrick Weston
Current team member and former intern Patrick Weston shares some useful insights with future Palantir interns.
Throughout any given year, Palantir has the privilege of hosting and working with a diverse array of career-minded students via our internship program. Patrick Weston served as one of Palantir’s interns during the summer of 2013, while studying computer science at Northwestern University. He later joined Palantir as a full time team member following his graduation in 2015.
This summer I worked as a Front End Developer (FED) intern at Palantir.net. I spent half of my time learning Drupal and SMACSS coding standards along with handling support tickets for multiple sites. The other half of my internship I worked as the primary FED for a client project. Based upon my experiences as an intern, I write this open letter to future interns at Palantir:
Dear Future Palantir Intern,
Being successful as an intern at Palantir.net is dependent upon two things. You’d probably assume those to be things like your work ethic and the attitude you bring with you each day, or technical things like how well you know how to code and how fast you can learn new stuff. Well I’m here to tell you you’ve got it all wrong. To be successful at Palantir, what you really need to be good at is sci-fi trivia and rapid-fire GIF curation.
Ok, I kid. Those might not be essential, but they will help you fit into the culture of Palantir, where “Open the Pod bay doors, HAL” adorns the door to the rooftop patio and “Please Captain, not in front of the Klingons” similarly adorns a bathroom wall. My tips will also help you keep up with Palantir’s internal group chat where, in addition to actual professional learning, you will also learn water cooler tidbits and witness an impressive array of cat GIFs. Needless to say, the office culture is nerdy—in a cool nerd type of way.
Don’t fret though, I do have two legitimate tips for success that might seem a little contradictory, but if you can strike the right balance between them, I think you’ll be golden. Get your pen and paper out and write these down:
- Believe in yourself. You’ve made it this far, you’ve been hired by an awesome company, and you look good (at least I’m assuming you look good). If you’re in a meeting, don’t be afraid to share your ideas if you have one. Or if you have an alternate viewpoint on an issue, bring it up. It might gain no traction, but there’s also a chance it could be really useful. I can think of a few times where I bit my tongue when I should have said something, and I regret it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. While I told you to believe in yourself, you’ll probably also notice that you run into times where you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve learned so much this summer by getting completely stuck and asking for help. I was also fortunate to have a great mentor who wouldn’t just show me answers, but would explain just enough to allow me to solve it myself. Don’t be afraid to ask “stupid” questions, too. I did, and I didn’t zap into a cloud of embarrassment.
If you’re nervous about getting an internship, that’s totally natural. However, don’t be afraid to go for it. If you do land an internship, remember to believe in yourself and ask questions. This summer at Palantir has been such an awesome experience for me … I wouldn’t want you to miss out.