At VMware Canada, we pride ourselves on being a workplace where people with diverse backgrounds and wide range of experience levels can thrive. To inspire and nurture talent, VMware created the VMware Academy in 2015 for top university graduates who aspire to become the next generation of leaders in enterprise technology. The program’s innovative and immersive training takes place in Austin, Texas and Palo Alto, California to provide the skills, knowledge, and mentorship that recent graduates need for a successful start to their careers.
VMware Academy is a global program that takes place in seven locations across AMER, APJ, and EMEA. We sat down with two Associate Solution Engineers at VMware Canada: Daren Wang, a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo, based in Calgary, and William Grant, a recent graduate from Queen’s University, based in Toronto, to learn about their experience as the first Canadian employees to participant in the AMER region’s VMware Academy program.
Without further ado, meet Daren (left) and William (right)!
When did you first discover VMware as a potential employer?
Daren: During school, I worked in various software companies in Waterloo as part of the co-op program for Electrical Engineering students and learned about VMware through them. Once I started doing research, I was really surprised by the reach of VMware’s technology, how it touches nearly every industry in Canada and around the world. It seemed like an attractive place to start looking for job openings post-graduation.
William: I also learned about VMware through my internship position during my time at Queens University. My first exposure was seeing VMware technology in practice. What initially attracted me to VMware was that the technology is not only widely adopted but is considered the best in the business by channel partners and customers. The main goal of a solution engineer is to help customers design software solutions to address business challenges, so if a product isn’t well-liked, it can be a tough job.
What was the process like applying for and accepting a spot in the Academy?
Daren: I found out about the opportunity while job searching online. The experience was simple and straight-forward. After I submitted my resume, there was a two-step interview process that allowed me to meet my colleagues in person. I was excited about joining a company that invests in recent graduates, which was magnified by the fact that everyone I interacted with were exceptionally nice. Accepting the offer was an easy decision.
William: Like Daren, I discovered the program through job searching online, but what immediately made VMware stand out from other companies was that they were specifically looking to recruit students. This is not typical for solution engineering jobs, which often ask for 5-10 years of experience in software development. It says a lot about a company’s culture of innovation when they’re willing to hire recent grads and use significant resources to train them. There aren’t a lot of companies that are sending students right out of school away for six weeks for training, investing in talent from the very beginning.
What skills did you learn through the training portion of the Academy that you think are important to master early on in your career?
Daren: For me, it was gaining a new perspective on enterprise IT. The training we received through VMware Academy enabled me to see the business value of technology. Prior to this, I was always in development roles where I only cared about technical aspects of the product. I’m really looking forward to continuing to understand the problems and challenges that Canadian customers are facing and how VMware technology solves them in a seamless and integrated way.
William: One of the skills that we had the opportunity to develop and practice during training was presenting. Most of the recent graduates had the technical foundation down, so the leaders encouraged us to sharpen our skills in articulating the benefits of VMware technology in a way that is compelling and persuasive. From considering how customers are using the technology, to how they will apply it, the training showed us the importance of understanding VMware cloud infrastructure and digital workspace technology in the context of the customer’s business needs.
VMware’s culture and values are best described by the acronym EPIC2 (Execution, Passion, Integrity, Customers, and Community). Which of the five values have you had the opportunity to witness in action?
Daren: In the six weeks that we were immersed in the Academy, we were given two opportunities to volunteer in local communities. During our time in Austin, Texas, where we did most of our technical training, we volunteered at the Central Texas Food Bank to help sort and pack non-perishable items that fed families in need within the community. Once we were in Palo Alto, California, we volunteered with an organization that built bikes for less fortunate kids in the area, which was a blast for a group of engineers. VMware encourages its employees to be a force for good in our communities, and I’m fortunate to see that value manifested at home with my team in Toronto.
William: I have seen VMware’s value of integrity be an important factor in how we approach and interact with our customers. During our training, we went over numerous challenging scenarios that could put us in an ethical dilemma. One of my key takeaways was that VMware does not have a culture of getting a deal done, no matter what. Our mantra is to get a deal done only if you know with 100% certainty that the customer is going to be realizing the value of the technology. There are so many qualities that make us stand out – it’s our culture that makes VMware a great place to work.
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