Aug
5
2015

An interview with our summer intern, Mattias

This summer we were joined by Informatics student Mattias Appelgren on a University internship. Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

You’ve had a busy few months here at the University Website Programme. Can you tell us a little about what you’ve been up to?

I’ve been working on a single project called the Cookie Audit Tool. Its main purpose is to find cookies on the University website and identify whether or not they are privacy invasive. This tool will help web publishers to determine whether they need to change the way they publish their content in order to minimise the number of privacy invasive cookies that are released.

Mattias Appelgren

Mattias taking a break from programming to get his photo taken

Have you managed to accomplish everything that you set out for yourself in such short period of time?

I am very happy with all that I have achieved. There’s always room for improvement, of course, and, if I had more time there are definitely things that I would like to add to my Cookie Audit Tool. For example, I would like to write proper tests for the code that I created. Other than that, I am really happy with what I produced. I also think that my experience at UWP allowed me to grow as a person. As part of the Internship programme they asked us to set ourselves some development goals, so I decided to set myself the following:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Get better at asking for feedback
  • Harness opportunities

One of the things that really helped me to get the most out my internship, was being mindful of the goals that I had set for myself and reflecting on these throughout my time at UWP. A lot of my time was spent focusing on my work project but, as things came up, I would take a step back and say, ‘Wait, I should probably do this. This would be good for me’. By doing this, I was able to really get to know my colleagues in both a business and social environment and learn a lot from them.

What interested you about this particular internship?

There were a number of different internships to choose from; however, this particular one caught my eye as it was one of the most technical internships available. Others focused on analysing data, whereas this involved actually creating something from scratch – something that I was very interested in doing.

When did you first become interested in programming?

I started programming around 3-4 years ago in my final year of gymnasium, when I took a beginners class on Python. Previous to this, the only exposure to web development that I’d had was at school where we were taught the basics of HTML. I went to study Maths at University and decided to take Informatics as my outside subject. After a while, I realised that I was spending more time on my Informatics courses and was enjoying them a great deal more, so I decided to change my degree programme.

How did your experience at UWP relate to your long-term aspirations?

I’m split as to what I want to do in the future. I’ve dabbled in web development and making things through programming; I even had a go at making a game at one point. This project involved a lot of web development, and so I was able to build up my skills and experience in this area. Another aspect of programming I’m interested in is machine learning and natural language processing. There is currently a lot of research being done on these topics and I might be interested in doing a PhD on something related to this.

Would you recommend this internship to other students?

Definitely. The UWP is full of very nice people who have been very supportive. I felt welcome from the very first day. The project itself was very good: there was a good plan at the start and it has evolved over time.

What one piece of advice would you give to future interns?

Go for it. I think it’s also very important to get to know the team, be sociable and make your mark.

What’s next?

Later today I’ll be taking a train down to England for a short break and after that I’ll be going back to Sweden for the summer. I still have two years left at University and after that we will see.

Quickfire round:

You arrive home from work to find there’s been a power cut. How do you spend your evening?

Reading a book.

Swedish food that everybody needs to try?

Kladdkaka (sticky cake)

Describe Stockholm in three words

Beautiful, watery and cool.

Describe Edinburgh in three words

Beautiful, studenty and… cool.

Open or closed plan office?

Closed.

What web browser do you use?

Mainly Safari.

Favourite website?

www.pythonanywhere.com

More information on the Cookie Audit Audit Tool can be found in Mattias’ blog post.

Read Mattias’ blog post

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