This post was written by Vojta Drmota in September 2019.
My three months as a software engineering intern at Apify have been an incredibly rewarding and educational experience. I wanted to spend the summer before my final year at Harvard at a growing software company that is making an impact on how we interact with technology.
Apify is a data scraping and web automation startup situated in central Prague. Against the backdrop of the city’s historical architecture, Apify is developing a cutting-edge platform for both consumer and business use cases.
As an intern, I was introduced to the company’s web scraping SDK and worked on expanding the Apify platform’s capabilities to support scraping scripts written in Python. Coming in, I had some lackluster experience with scraping websites, but I never could have imagined how efficient and scalable my web scraping scripts could have been had I leveraged the Apify platform. I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to intern at Apify and would like to use this post to articulate some of my favorite parts about my experience at the company.
Very early on, I learned that Apify provides for an intriguingly dynamic work environment. Only during the duration of my internship, the company’s team grew by a third and will soon be relocating to a larger office space. But Apify’s dynamism goes beyond team growth. Each day at work was like no other, and the Apify team was always ready to meet new opportunities and challenges head-on.
Halfway through my internship, Apify was asked to submit a proof-of-concept to a large multinational corporation, which was looking for companies to provide a custom web automation solution for one of its projects. The project was probably larger than any of Apify’s previous undertakings, and many small startups would probably buck the challenge, especially given the risk of wasting time on a proof-of-concept that could later be rejected. But turning away from opportunities in the face of risk would not be characteristic of Apify’s approach to entrepreneurship.
The team added the proof-of-concept to their already bustling schedules and delivered it just a week later, upon which it was successfully accepted. The resulting partnership with the multinational corporation has now opened new avenues of growth for Apify’s web automation platform and will lead to further expansion of the company’s impact on the web automation industry. This entrepreneurial curiosity in the everyday workflow at Apify is an ideal learning environment for any intern seeking experience in a company that is genuinely passionate about its impact, and one I’m lucky to have witnessed.
Despite its closeness, the tight-knit Apify team doesn’t bask in exclusivity and is always willing to onboard interns as well as new employees, providing them with a complete sense of vocational and personal belonging. Witnessing the hustle and bustle of a passionate team from the sidelines is one thing; being invited to partake is a next-level experience. Often, interns can feel sidelined in their internships, especially when they are delegated tasks that revolve around peripheral aspects of the company’s work. The team at Apify, thankfully, doesn’t conflate internships with an opportunity to just complete leftover work that no one wants to take on.
Instead, during my first week, I was introduced to the core product and allowed to browse through the codebase. I was offered to choose from an array of different tasks that would in some way impact Apify’s core products. Taking the time to onboard an intern in this manner grants a whole new dimension to the internship experience. Knowing that my work would, in some respect, be deployed made me excited about every line of code. It challenged me to learn and adopt the company’s coding conventions, and motivated me to constantly iterate quality reviews of my code.
Yet, what made my internship experience at Apify truly exceptional was the friendliness and quality of the people that shape the company. The people at Apify are passionate, caring, and friendly. Few companies can boast about office culture the way Apify deserves to. A testament to Apify’s friendly office culture is the company’s lunch-time tradition. Every day, at noon, the entire company gathers and collectively goes for lunch at a nearby sit-down restaurant. All team members get along with each other, and lunch is a time when Apify feels less like a company and more like a family. It’s a place where all employees belong and where all the different personalities understand and complement each other. As an intern, lunch was a great opportunity to get to know the team, which can sometimes be difficult for interns to do if companies don’t take the time to foster employee relationships. I was also invited to one of Apify’s team-building trips, where we spent a weekend in the southern Czech Republic, canoeing, camping, and, of course, drinking good beer. I’ve made some great friends during my time at Apify and I’m happy that these are the people I got to know during my first summer stay in Prague.
The end of my internship at Apify was a bittersweet moment. I’m very thankful to have gotten the opportunity to intern at Apify this summer, but I’m equally sad to be leaving such an incredible company. Above all, however, I’m excited to watch Apify grow and make an impact on how we interact with the web. I’ll be cheering you all on from the other side of the Atlantic :)