For everyone, internships are short jobs to earn, learn and gain – skills and stuffs, but for me it was way different because, I was just 15 years old at the time, living in India, trying to land an internship. It was driven by my curiosity and desire to get some experience for discovering myself and succeed in expressing my thoughts. As far as I can remember, it was a sunny day back in 2016. I was so pumped.
I had never searched jobs on the Internet before, so, after hours opening random links, I got to know about some websites who had these beautiful indexed jobs/internships information. I looked through job boards for internships in computer science, since that was (and still is) my quote unquote "love". However, the prerequisite qualifications they asked for were intimidating and I had little idea about what they even were because I didn't had solid working knowledge on computer science (nor had done too many CS courses) at that time. After some days, I was faced with a hard truth, that, how bleak chances of getting an internship I had.
Never Say Never
I then, started paying attention especially to local shops for job openings. As it's not in our culture for kids to even try asking for a job, I had no choice other than not letting my parents know about this little quest. I had no connections and my soft skills were, uh, let's just say, not so great, I was nothing but basically was on a wild goose chase.
I don't know exactly when it hit me, but I remember one day, hanging out with my friends at school, I noticed giving pizza orders was a lot of pain, some being, not having many choices, favorites being unavailable or out of stock, misunderstandings, all those typical problems.
Initially I thought, what if there was an updated record directory which can be queried. But soon enough I realized that, it would require a person with computer literacy and why would any owner pay so much for installing a dedicated computer system and hire a literate staff and considering my state which is the least literate in country. Nah. Then I thought, okayy, what if the computer can pick and say the right things and can take orders, it can't be that hard, I mean, there's TTS which I'm using to make my "J.A.R.V.I.S.", and, and, hey, there's SpeechRecognition module by Google which can convert speech-to-text and I can code a long if-elif-else maze to stitch all of it together! HELL YEAH!
Yeah. I was like that.
Fortunately, I had two things which were in my favor and those were perseverance and good googling skills so soon enough, I came to know about Chatbots. Furthermore, I discovered a badass service called API.AI, you may not have heard about it, well, well, well, those days. (pssst... Google swallowed this pretty startup)
I coded a shitty pizza order taking chatbot via API.AI using intents with custom responses and what-not. API.AI was not as good as it is now. Anyways, I was able to hook the thing my way because "one-click web-hook" feature wasn't even implemented back then.
I went to the nearest Dominos shop and vomitted my "pitch" about how I was gonna revolutionize the food industry. What do you think? I nailed it, right?
They shoo-ed me. :')
After ~6 months
I actually never stopped, and eventually, one shop owner accepted my request and made me an intern with no pay and no strings attached. I was so happy. He actually never replaced the order taking guy with my chatbot, but, he showed it to the customers and I don't know if he knew that, but he taught me about beta-testing. I went everyday for a month or so. He sometimes sent me to take orders, but most of times, I just sat next by the order-taking guy to improve my chatbot. It was not official in any sense but he did give me a hand-written letter. No, I didn't had LinkedIn profile. The experience definitely served as a good ride, sure, there were good and bad times, but it gave me ample lot of lessons to remember.