Csom Summer Field Program
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Life of Pie: Colorado School of Mines Students Shine During Summer Field Program - Pie Insurance

Life of Pie: Colorado School of Mines Students Shine During Summer Field Program - Pie Insurance

Learning together

Here at Pie, we’re building the future of insurance. Our team of Pie-oneers sets aggressive goals and tackles ambitious projects that help us achieve our mission to empower small businesses to thrive by making commercial insurance affordable and as easy as pie.

We love working with forward-looking big thinkers. We recently had the privilege of hosting our first field session program with 10 talented engineering students from the Colorado School of Mines, a public research university focused on science and engineering based in beautiful Golden, CO. These students were split across three high-impact projects at Pie: help deliver on an innovative new lines initiative, develop a lead generation heat map visualization tool, and create a mission-critical operational data management application system.

The Colorado School of Mines students had the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into the world of small business insurtech and work with our world class team of engineers, user experience designers, product managers, and more. To hear about the field session experience and its impact, we spoke to Pie’s Ryan Countryman, senior software engineer; Page Sincler, senior software engineering manager; and Regan Henry, software engineer; and Colorado School of Mines engineering and computer science students, Grant Baldwin and Nikola Jaksic.

Pie team, why did we get involved with the Colorado School of Mines Field Session program?

  • Page: Pie is always looking for new ways to identify young talent and also showcase the types of exciting opportunities our engineers get to work on on a daily basis. We were excited to help future engineers gain new experiences as they graduate and move into the workforce.

  • Regan: I graduated from Colorado School of Mines in 2017 and I wanted an opportunity to give back to a school that ignited my passion for engineering, and help mentor newer software developers.

  • Ryan: I am also a Colorado School of Mines graduate and was a former CS Field session participant. I know how valuable a good experience can be and how much there is to learn from these kinds of real-world projects.

What were the end results of the projects? What did the students learn and accomplish?

  • Regan: Our goal was to immerse the students into our teams as if they were new engineering employees and ensure they were learning new skills on top of refining ones they learned in school. We introduced them to technologies they hadn’t encountered before like AWS CloudFormation, AWS SAM, and GraphQL. For my specific project, the students created a visual map of data to better represent what our business looks like for internal users. It was an incredibly ambitious goal, but they tackled it with enthusiasm and it’s a tool we will use daily at Pie. Not only was it informative and helpful for the students, it was a good learning experience for me as well!

  • Ryan: For my specific project, the students helped the team make significant progress in automating quotes for a future line of business and build valuable internal tools. The students got a taste of what professional engineering practices are and modern technologies. We were so happy with their performance that we actually hired them to continue working with us this summer as paid interns!

Grant, what made you interested in participating in Pie’s Field Session?

  • Grant: I wanted an intern-like experience working at a company full time. Previously I had only worked at companies part-time, and it had never been full-time nor the main focus of my day. As for working with Pie, I must admit that I had a stigma of insurance = boring in my head, so I never really gave you a fair chance until I was assigned the project from my school. Though I am quite glad that I was because it was actually really interesting! It felt great working in a startup-like environment and quickly seeing the effect that your code has on the productivity of the team. Additionally, the people were amazing! Everyone was extremely friendly and took time to ensure we were comfortable and that we had integrated into the team. I can’t stress enough how amazing the people are at Pie Insurance.

We like to prove the insurance = boring stigma wrong! Nikola and Grant, did anything else about working on an insurance product surprise you?

  • Nikola: I had always thought of insurance companies as just a bunch of lawyers in the past, but by working at Pie, I was able to see just how much more there is to it, even in just the software aspect of the company. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see such a large and thriving software engineering community working on insurance.

  • Grant: Mostly just how simple everything was! I had always envisioned insurance as the culmination of 10,000+ different factors with algorithmic-heavy code processing the factors and spitting out a premium price, but it wasn’t like that at all.

Back to the Pie team, why should young tech talent look for a career at Pie and in the insurtech space?

  • Ryan: We’re building a first-class engineering organization to solve the challenges of bringing affordable insurance to small businesses. We’re constantly looking for how to improve our processes and skills and leverage the right technologies to tackle complex business problems.

  • Page: Applying technology to reimagine traditional business domains such as insurance is a great way for young talent to learn from the ground up and build solid skills quickly when joining the workforce. As an insurtech, Pie is a great place for young engineers to get this experience!

Simple is our middle name (or it would be, if we had one). What was your favorite thing about working with Pie?

  • Grant: My favorite thing about the project was the immediate benefit that we were creating. Automating manual and time-intensive tasks always feels good, but to do that and have it instantly implemented into production was by far my favorite part. Also, the Pie team was so supportive. Every step of the way it felt like we had a voice in decisions and that our words were being seriously considered. If we needed help it was immediately available to us.

  • Nikola: My favorite thing about the project I worked on was that while our group was given a lot of freedom on how to approach the problem, we were also given plenty of opportunities to ask for help when we got stuck. We were able to apply what we learned in school to the best of our ability, but when we had a problem, we had people to turn to for guidance. My other favorite thing about working with the Pie team has to be the team itself. There were many friendly people that interacted with our group, and the team leaders were always proactively helping us move forward. Thanks to them I feel that I truly got the most I could out of this program.

What advice do you have for students and recent graduates on getting started in engineering?

  • Regan: Never stop learning. There are always new technologies coming out and learning them helps you grow as an engineer and as a person. Also, your voice has value, even when you are the most junior person in the room. We always need to hear new ideas and new voices.

  • Ryan: Always ask “why?” Most importantly, “why is this the best way to tackle a problem?” and “why is tackling this problem valuable?”

  • Page: Don’t assume having less experience than others makes your ideas less valuable. Always let yourself be heard, be willing to listen when you have something to learn, and don’t be afraid to constantly look to operate outside your comfort zone.

Working with students like Grant and Nikola have made us even more optimistic about the future! It was an honor to show them the complex and creative work happening in the insurance sector. We’re always looking for passionate engineers to join our team so keep an eye on our careers page or reach out to our team at