Imagine working for a company that employs the man who looked a certain CEO in the eyes and didn't flinch. Imagine working for a company that built the top ranked developer platform that's 100% free and open source. Imagine working for a company that many employees (somewhat facetiously) call a "startup" but are killing the books quarter after quarter. Imagine working for a company that makes the software that the NYSE's infrastructure is built on top of.
This past summer I interned at this very company I speak of, VMware. Interning at VMware was an experience that changed the way I look at the tech industry, culture, and ultimately, life.
Let me rewind a little bit.
Back in January 2011, I received a phone call from a VMware recruiter named Maria. She wanted to offer me an MTS Intern position with the VMware Labs team.
"What's an MTS Intern and what's VMware Labs?", I thought.
In any case, I was flattered by the offer and graciously accepted. But later I thought to myself, "VMware is a pretty big company–am I going to be a code monkey relegated to a cubicle judged solely by my KLOCs?" My curiosities couldn't have been farther from reality, as I'd realize during the summer of 2011.
Most engineers are hard-wired with a propensity to use their knowledge to build cool things. I fall within a subset of these engineers–engineers who are hard-wired with a desire to use knowledge not just to build cool things, but to build cool things that will change the world.
VMware gives you that avenue, here's why.
VMware has a culture where you're not judged by the amount of hours you work or by the amount of code you write, but simply by your ability as an engineer to think creatively and complete tasks.
My first day on the job my manager, Amitabh, says to me with a grin, "You know Mappos? I want Mappos." He wanted me to create a web-app where we could monitor real-time where people were downloading our software. Three weeks later I gave him a prototype. This was a project that was challenging and fun, but I was supported and mentored along the way.
My summer was filled with projects like this, where my manager would give me an interesting idea, I'd work on it, and he'd offer any support and guidance I needed.
Oftentimes, we'd grab a cup of coffee and he'd let me ask any questions about his 15-year experience at other startups as well as VMware. Me, a "lowly intern", on the same level as my manager? Now this is a company I'd want to work for.
While walking around the VMware World Headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, you really get the sense that what you see around you was not built over night, but that you're "standing on the shoulders of giants." You often pass by people like Kit Colbert who created vMotion, Marc Lucovsky who helped build Windows NT, Derek Collison who built CloudFoundry, and of course Paul Maritz, our humble CEO.
Not only is VMware's staff filled with great names, so is the lineup of new additions VMware is adding to its ranks. When most people think of VMware, they think of the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure. But one thing VMware does a good job of keeping secret is the "cooler" parts of the company that make you realize just how forward thinking VMware really is. First off, there's Socialcast–think Facebook for the enterprise. Next, there's SlideRocket–think Google Docs' presentation feature done right. And lastly, there's my favorite of them all: CloudFoundry–think Heroku on steroids.
Knowing that VMware is looking beyond virtualization and cloud infrastructure fosters this sense that when you work for VMware, you're working to push the limits of technology – a limit that VMware challenges all of its employees to question and push.
All of this considered, for new college graduates and potential interns who want to work at a paradigm-shifting company, I challenge you to keep VMware on the short list of companies in Silicon Valley to watch and consider.
Brian was a MTS intern with the VMware Labs team during the summer of 2011.
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