Changing the way we use the Internet.

My name is Lauren Ashmore, and I am about to enter my 4th year of a Mechatronics Engineering degree at Glasgow University. I have recently completed an internship with The @ Company as a software developer. The @ Company is a two-year-old Silicon Valley tech start-up, who are working to revolutionise the internet through making a people and privacy first, end-to-end encrypted platform for making new apps and changing the way we use the internet.

My main project over the 8 weeks was creating a new app with my team of interns. We are a group of four including me, there are two other Saltire Scholars, Ranchao and Ellis, and Daria from Canada. We spent a week or so brainstorming ideas, before settling on tackling an issue that's universal but also affects us every day, walking alone at night and feeling unsafe.

We decided to create an app where you can track your friends and family and send them alerts when you want them to do so or when you are in danger. As our app is built on the @platform everything is end to end encrypted and there is no danger of others having control over your data.

I have learnt a lot of new skills this summer, I have also been able to put into use as well as improve skills that I have learnt at university.

The app was coded entirely in flutter, a coding language none of the team had ever used. We had to work quickly to learn to use it as well as how to use the widgets and libraries created by The @ Company. We were helped a lot by the company who provided us with lessons as well as great documentation on what they had developed and a free coding course. Through my degree I have learnt some coding already, mainly Python and MatLab, so my previous experience really helped me in picking up the new language quickly.

I really enjoyed working in a team of other interns as we were able to support each other and it made the whole internship a lot more social, which is important with online work especially when everyone is in different time zones. I feel we also learnt a different style of group work to what normally is advised in projects. We modelled ourselves after the company we were working for, we each made our own roles and adopted a completely flat hierarchical structure. There was no ownership of work and we all helped each other and swapped work and problems fluidly, a style of work I would like to bring back for my projects at university.

Every two weeks The @ Company holds demo days where everyone showcases what they have been working on to the rest of the company as well as friends and investors. This summer we as interns got to participate in multiple demo days which was amazing. We had to pitch our apps as though we were looking for investment, so we had to describe the product, the market gap, why we are passionate about it and then demo it. Afterwards we would get lots of feedback from the company on what worked and what needed changed. These days were my favourite part of the internship, and I always came away feeling excited about my work and like I was really achieving something with my time. Through these demo days, I improved my presentation skills as well as putting to use what I had learnt at university about presenting technical ideas in an interesting and simple way. We created engaging presentations and learnt to establish a market gap and revenue model for our app.

Through the Saltire Scholar Program I have also improved a lot of skills. I am no longer as frightened by interviews as I once was and now feel I can sell myself and my capabilities in a just and effective way. I can also now write a cover letter in record time and understand what is needed in terms of research and matching my experience to what a company is looking for. I also now feel I have a strong CV and the feedback from each round of applications has helped that and my cover letters greatly.

I have had an amazing time this summer and am delighted that I got to learn so much and be part of such a new and exciting company while working on a project that I am genuinely interested in and hope to continue in the future. I am also so grateful that I have become a Saltire Scholar this year. The skills I have learnt will stay with me forever and the support from everyone has been incredible.

Written by: Lauren Ashmore, University of Glasgow, Software Developer, The @ Company, USA (Virtual)
Lauren Ashmore