Some of the best advice I’ve heard includes taking as many opportunities as you can to ask questions, explore, and to test out ideas to stretch yourself. If you are a current student, you may be at a point where you have flexibility to zero in on these moments of growth. Because of this, I decided to sit down with Mark Roukema, VMware intern and current student at the University of Waterloo to see how he takes this advice to heart as he returns to VMware for a second internship. Let’s see what Mark has to say about VMware’s people, making an impact from day one, and the defining moments that helped shape his trajectory.
The Software Engineering Program at the University of Waterloo provides a variety of growth & development opportunities for students, including six four-month internship placements with top employers across the country, including VMware. During my third year of college, I was lucky enough to receive the opportunity to intern at VMware headquarters in Palo Alto, California as a Software Engineer working on the Partner Engineering Storage team. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. It’s because of this experience that I decided to join VMware again for a second four-month placement working on the same team. Now several months into my second internship, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my thoughts on why I came back.
Here are four key reasons I decided to intern at VMware:
1. People and Culture
From day one it was clear that VMware treats its interns differently than most employers that I’m familiar with. I spent my first day getting acquainted with VMware’s culture by touring the newly expanded, beautiful campus in Palo Alto and meeting my new coworkers. To my surprise, most of the other people in the orientation were not fellow interns, but full-time new hires. Attending orientation was my first clue that I was in for a game-changing experience. I felt like an equal contributing member of the employee community, just like any other talented employee. This was a key factor in my decision to return to VMware.
2. Making an Impact on Real World Challenges
The largest difference between a VMware internship and internships at other companies is that the quality of work we are given. The work that VMware interns are involved with is of great interest to each team and makes a direct impact on the business. For the first time at an internship I got the sense that my work was actually contributing to the team and unless I put my full effort into it I would let the group down. What I do matters and that means a lot to me.
During my first internship at VMware, I was directly involved in putting together a software plugin that uses technologies that I had never heard of or worked on before. If you had asked me about the problem that the plugin addressed at the start of my internship, I would have probably said that its resolution was not feasible or that I couldn’t do it. However, with the support and encouragement of my team, I was able to learn new skills and familiarize myself with new technologies, which helped me make an impact on the project. I pushed beyond the artificial limits I had set for myself and grew, which was very rewarding. My work at VMware proved to not only be challenging, but one of the best hands on learning experiences that I’ve gotten out of an internship.
3. Intern Life, Fun and Balance
Of course my internship was not all work. There was plenty of fun to be had both at work and at home, where over 100 other VMware interns from all across the world were living. The VMware University Relations Program provided interns with a variety of events to get to know each other and explore all that California has to offer. From social events like our LAN party on VMware’s campus, day trips to places like Angel Island, volunteer opportunities within the local community and possibly the most important factor: reasonable working hours. No one ever asked or expected me to work more than a normal 40-hour work week. This left plenty of time to hang out with fellow interns and explore. I think work life balance is important because for most of us, the things that matter and are important to us and define who we are occur outside the office. It only makes sense that these things get as much of our attention as we can afford to give them.
4. Anticipation for What’s Next
When my first internship at VMware came to an end I came to appreciate how great of an opportunity I had come across. I was leaving with more knowledge and experience than I had ever imagined that I would get out of an internship. During my last week I learned that if I wanted to, I could walk away with one more thing, an offer to come back and intern for another four months.
For me this was an easy decision. VMware is by far the best internship experience that I’ve had to date. I know that I have a lot to learn and takeaway from my return, so I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’ve been given the opportunity to continue my work from the previous term and am excited to see it through the next phase of its lifespan.
Thank you VMware for this incredible opportunity to work with passionate people who are driven to challenge the status quo all while having fun and building meaningful relationships. I’m looking forward to the remainder of my second internship.
About Mark: Mark is a fourth year student pursuing a Bachelor of Software Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He is currently continuing his work with networked storage technology on the Ecosystem Research and Development team at VMware.
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