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Context: In the summer of 2012, I worked as a web development intern for ICF International, a consulting company based in Fairfax, VA. At the time, I was a college student in-between my freshman and sophomore years. I was just getting into the world of web development.

Skills and Tools Used: html icon css 508 Compliance Icon JavaScript Icon

Challenges: This position was my first "real-world," kind of job. In other words, I was working on things that truly affected the outcome of company products - not just performing customer service work or writing code or designing for class projects. This experience took a lot of adjustment at first. Some of the specific challenges I encountered included:

  • Adding my own CSS and HTML code to a project that another person had already started and not fully understanding why they had written things the way they had.
  • Working with tables in HTML and CSS - a skill I hadn't dealt with during my coursework
  • Learning how to edit PDFs and HTML code to make them 508 Compliant
  • Writing HTML and CSS for outdated versions of Internet Explorer (version 8)
  • Working with JavaScript seriously for the first time (specifically the old Google Maps API)

Summary of Contributions:

  • Writing 508-compliant HTML and CSS
  • Writing HTML and CSS for the Intranet website of VA.gov
  • Editing PDFs to make them 508-compliant
  • Using the Google Maps API to write JavaScript for a map of client offices


When I came to ICF, they put me on a project that had a deadline within a few days. They asked me to work on two specific things - editing a coworkers' HTML code so that the resulting web page was easily accessible for people with disabilities (508-compliant), and implementing HTML-based tables based off of color comps. I spent a lot of time using resources like WebAIM (for accessibility) and referencing CSS-Tricks (for learning new ways to do tables). After this project was finished, I moved on to a new one with a slightly different team.

On the next project, I believe I got my first taste of an Agile work environment - at least, we had daily stand-up meetings where we discussed what we were contributing that day. On this project, I shadowed the lead web developer on the project. While he worked on creating the outward-facing VA.gov HTML and CSS, I worked on modifying the HTML and CSS for their internal intranet website. We were required to make sure the code worked well with Internet Explorer 8, which required writing (and researching) a number of CSS-based hacks.

Additionally, I was tasked with editing PDF documents for 508 compliance for other projects within the company. This required more WebAIM research.

Finally, I was also asked to work on a project where they needed a Google Maps-based depiction of client offices. I was able to dig into the JavaScript-based API (as always, with a lot of looking at the documentation) to get it working.

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