Long Pham ’14: Programming Internship at Fastport Trucking

Long Pham ’14:  This summer I am doing an internship up here in Lowell, MA with Jim Ray ’95 at his startup FASTPORT, thanks to the funding from Lilly Small Business Internship Fund.  FASTPORT is a small business focusing on technology-based trucker recruitment, and is pretty much the very first such company in the trucking industry.  One particular advance that we possess is our web-based application for truckers to get rid of all the paperwork and reduce the processing time from a few weeks to 48-72 hours.

However, our web application was meant to be much better and faster than it is at the moment; and that is where my work comes in. Generally, my work at FASTPORT involves assisting Jim on rebuilding the entire web application from scratch, to create a better, faster and much more efficient system for the business.

I would like to emphasize the importance of what I have learned here at FASTPORT.  In fact, the most important lesson that I have learned over the last 10 weeks is not about programming; instead, it is all about work ethics and entrepreneurial attitude.  For over 10 weeks, Aeknoor Cheema ’15 and I have been working to get the business up and running.  Aeknoor was helping Colin Dunlap ’12, our Sales & Marketing manager, on building business and marketing plans, while I assisted Jim on all the programming stuffs.  Since FASTPORT is only a startup with 2 employees and 2 interns, it is obvious that we all have to work really hard in order to make it work. Late-night and weekend work shifts are very common at FASTPORT.  Even though the workload is always tremendous, I never felt unmotivated, thanks to Jim’s wonderful mentorship.  When we stay late for work, he often takes us out to dinner, and we discuss our workplan over delicious wings and beers.  Jim also shares stories about his ventures, his successes and failures, and always concludes with some sort of life-worthy lesson.  These experiences make me feel fortunate for having chosen this internship for my summer.

Certainly, I cannot forget to mention the programming part of the internship.  Even though I had studied several courses on Computer Science and was indeed fluent in Java and Python, my knowledge did not help very much.  Jim has guided us towards .NET programming using Visual Basic/SQL, which I never learned.  Thankfully, he was a great teacher, who would spend time making me instructive videos and guidelines, as well as providing working examples for me to study from.  After 10 weeks of ‘studying’ web programming with Jim, I have come a long way from knowing nothing to being able to construct a complete web project on my own with an infinitesimal amount of help.  All this work also makes me realize that knowledge means nothing unless you really use it in fieldwork.

To conclude, I would just like to thank Career Services and Jim for offering me this wonderful opportunity.  All these hardworking late nights and weekends have taught me the importance of working ethically with a positive attitude, regardless of your position in the company.  More importantly, they affirm one simple truth to me: Wabash Always Fights, in school and beyond.

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