IOAI.com Wins University Of Bath Departmental & Faculty Placement Award

June 10, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Personal, Politics, Prizes, Slideshow, University of Bath

BathU

Insight Of An Intern has been awarded both the departmental and faculty placement award by the University of Bath. 

I’m absolutely over the moon about this; not just because it’s a lovely accolade, but because it mean that this blog may help present and future interns in their experiences.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support IOAI.com.

From Intern to CTO – An interview with 10gen’s Eliot Horowitz

April 17, 2013 in 10gen, Coding, Community Internship, Guest Post, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, MongoDB, Networking, Pictures, Slideshow, Technology

It’s one of the many reasons I love the working culture at 10gen; where else would you find the CTO of the company happily sitting down to chat to the intern?

Eliot Horowitz, co-founder and CTO of 10gen, knows all too well the perks and pitfalls of intern life. Though now head of a 75-person engineering team, Eliot began his professional life when he was 19 years old, when he undertook a summer internship with DoubleClick, a company co-founded by Dwight Merriman, 10gen’s Chairman and fellow co-founder.

eliot_horowitz_mongo-event-1

Before he jetted back to New York, I had the chance to ask Eliot about his time as an intern, and to enquire about any advice he would offer prospective and current interns of today:

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IOAI.com In Print – P-oint Magazine

March 28, 2013 in Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, London Living, Networking, Personal, Pictures, Uncategorized

IOAI.com in P-oint Magazine

IOAI.com in P-oint Magazine

 

Insightofanintern.com has officially made it into ‘the real world’, having had an article printed in P-oint Magazine.

Welcome To Miami – 10gen All Company Meeting

March 8, 2013 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, Conferences, Intern Guide, Intern Training, MongoDB, Networking, Personal, Pictures

An Intern Goes Snorkelling

Just a over a  month ago I was catching my flight back to rainy London after a week in Miami. The 10gen All Company Meeting, and the mixture of work, sunshine, sea, sand and new friends afforded me one of the most enjoyable and eye opening experiences of my life. 

The concept behind an all-company meeting, especially for a growing company like 10gen which boasts an ever-increasing global presence, is to bring together all staff in one place for an opportunity to share new initiatives, company victories, upcoming challenges,  highlight employee accomplishments which reinforce the company’s values and culture and, vitally, unite the team around a common sense of purpose.

As an intern, the meeting allowed me to understand my placement company in more depth and to finally put faces to the names of those I interact with on a daily basis via email. It was great to be able to talk at length with members of the team in different departments, and to find out exactly what their jobs entailed – I was overawed by the enthusiasm and dedication I witnessed from all areas of the company. It forced me to think long and hard about where I’d like to be in 5 years time, and how I could use my degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Bath to forge a career path about which I would feel just as passionate and empowered by my work as those I met in Miami.

Of course, there was a huge amount of silly fun to be had too. The annual team building challenge did not disappoint, as we were tasked with building Lego sumo robots. Really.

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I was in a great team (though rather light on the engineers) whose robot, named LegoLass, came in at a nifty second place. Our robot’s special move won it particular support from the crowd, and earned it the nickname ‘Humper the HR Violation’ – I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

There’s not much more I can write without potentially violating company privacy policies, so I’ll leave you with some photos from my time in Miami.

A Job of Many Hats – Interning for a Startup

February 13, 2013 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, MongoDB, Networking, Slideshow, Social Media, Technology

take-a-risk_1x

Deciding to pursue a position within a start-up can be a nerve-wracking choice. Before you accept an offer, examine the positives and negatives of startup employment. With these issues in mind, you can make a sound decision – oh, and be ready to spend a lot of your time explaining to relatives/friends/strangers just who exactly your company is, and what you do. Repeatedly.

No Job Description

Fond of having a structured role with set tasks and responsibilities? Then working for a start up probably isn’t for you.

If, like me, you are walking into an entirely new role, then chances are you will have the opportunity to carve your own position and influence the direction of your internship – you really do receive a great deal of autonomy. Great for those who flourish in a more haphazard environment, but not so good for those who look to organisation and structure to guide their working day.

Learn By Doing

Unlike larger companies, where  you may have to endure hours of official training, in the start-up world it’s ‘sink or swim’. I absolutely love that from the moment you walk in through the doors, you’re treated like an integral member of the team and are expected to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.

In a start-up, everyone must pull their weight for the company to succeed, and as an intern you will be no exception to this rule.

low-pay-packetLow or No Salary

Young companies are generally unable to offer the same kind of financial package that a large company can, and you’ll tend to work harder and get paid less while at a startup compared to your comparable role within a larger company. Of course, this isn’t always the case – many start ups offer a competitive internship wage, and many larger companies neglect to pay their interns at all.

Many Hats

It seems the ominous phrase “other duties as required” becomes the norm, and you may find yourself performing duties that are not even close to your expected responsibilities  – for example, I have just taken over the role of Office Manager after coming onboard as a Community & Marketing intern. It’s all hands on deck, and thus startups offer fantastic opportunities to wear multiple hats and really get to know what it’s like to run an organization.

Passionate People

There is a certain energy and determination present in the start-up environment unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. Startups are almost invariably made up of passionate, excited people who are working there because they truly want to be working there, and it’s something special to be a part of that.

Flexible Schedule

Regular office hours? What’re they? “Nine to five” is a fiction at most startups. This is really a ‘glass half full/empty’ situation, because although you may find yourself still sat in the office at 10pm, you are equally as likely to enjoy the prospect of a lie-in on days when you just need that bit extra. Holiday also works on a far less formal, more flexible basis.

Working for a start up also means you’ll probably have the opportunity to attend a plethora of events – there’s not many people to go around, so even as an intern you will be counted as a crucial part of the team.

Out Of Business Riskclosed-out-of-business

Time for a reality check; an overwhelming number of start-ups will not survive past the first year. Obviously this is a substantial risk, but one which can pay off far beyond what you might expect, but can also leave you updating your CV and trawling the internet for vacancies within a breathtakingly short time.

Wealth Of Experience but Less Specialisation

Though you may not be pulling in the big bucks yet, working at a start up is valuable in another way; your hands-on, multi-functional experience will be a real asset for your long-term professional growth.

However, one thing I’ve certainly found is that you may experience some frustration when it comes to honing specific skills – when you’re doing a billion and one different things, it’s difficult to become the marketing/sales/engineering/consulting/etc guru you expected.

Friends, not Colleagues

The nature of a startup means you will continually be meeting new people and building relationships – and you’ll grow to see many of your colleagues as friends.

Feeling Valued

It can be frustrating being a little fish in a big pond, and start up culture, generally, removes many of the hierarchical barriers experienced in larger companies. For example, when the CEO of 10gen came over from California, he ensured that he and I had an in-depth one-to-one; probably a very unlikely situation in larger companies.

I also have the chance to travel a lot more than I might otherwise – during my internship so far I have been lucky enough to take business trips to places such as Aarhus and even Miami. Being  part of a smaller team means playing a bigger role.

Little Perks 

The dedication seen at startups comes hand in hand with the need to curate an enjoyable environment, and an attempt to cultivate a healthy company culture (read more about that here). It’s the little things that make life worthwhile, and in 10gen those include jeans, popcorn, beer, and office juggling competitions.

Personal Pride

The exhilaration of being part of a successful startup produces pride and a sense of accomplishment that is extraordinary. You will never regret the long hours, hard work and smaller paycheque.

The ‘D’ word – Dissertation Planning

January 9, 2013 in Afterhours, Community Internship, Dissertation, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, Slideshow, University of Bath

dissertation

As much as I’d like it to, my internship with 10gen can’t go on forever — and as 2013 rushes onwards, my return to university creeps ever closer.

This can only mean one thing; the dreaded dissertation. 

It may not seem like the most attractive prospect whilst also working a fulltime job (can anyone here say ‘exhausted‘?), but there is a lot to be said for laying the foundations of your undergraduate dissertation whilst on placement — giving yourself as much time as possible to work on your project and thus reducing your workload on returning to your studies.

So what can you do? 

    • BE REALISTIC: This cannot be stressed enough. Take an honest look at the time you have to complete your project and allocate a realistic amount of time to each of these steps, some of which will obviously take longer than others. Don’t be disheartened or overwhelmed if some take longer than you were expecting — the most important thing is that you keep your focus.
    • TALK TO YOUR COMPANY: If you’re lucky enough to have a highly supportive placement company, why not talk to them about allocating some time towards working on your dissertation?
    • THINK TOPIC: Begin by thinking about a focused and manageable topic that you know will be interesting, original and achievable.
    • THINK TEXTS: Undertake some preliminary reading and research to establish that there is appropriate source material upon which you can draw. Why not make an Amazon wishlist of relevant textbooks?
    • GET IN CONTACT: Contact your university department for guidance on whether your topic is a suitable area of research, and enquire as to which staff members in your department may be most knowledgeable on the subject.
    • GET READING: Once you’ve received the go ahead, you can begin your reading in earnest. Work towards completing the bulk of your research into your chosen topic, making sure that you manage your information effectively and retain all the relevant details you will need for your bibliography etc. I know this is a pain, but when you’re near final hand in and discover you’re not having to panic about missing references, you’ll be thankful you did it.
    • GET PLANNING: Take some time to work on a semi-detailed plan of your dissertation — identify each major section which you want it to contain. Remember to keep the final word length in mind, and perhaps even allocating a rough word length to each section, though this will probably change as your dissertation progresses.

Reiterating the need for a realistic and achievable plan, this is where it may be advisable to slow down the dissertation prep; enabling students to make progress on their final year dissertation without detrimentally affecting their placement.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘that’s enough for now‘.

Placement Tutors, Chocolate Biscuits and T-shirt Ties

December 17, 2012 in 10gen, Community Internship, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Interview advice, Pictures, Slideshow, University of Bath

Today a little piece of Bath came to London.

As part of any University of Bath ‘sandwich’ degree, students are allocated a placement tutor, whose role it is to provide a range of support, advice and guidance to help placement students.

It was my turn. My tutor popped into the 10gen London offices to make sure everything was going smoothly for all parties, and that I wasn’t being held captive or sold into slave labour.

Oddly, although everything has been going swimmingly here during my internship, I was nervous. When you’re fully immersed in a placement year, it’s easy to become disassociated with university life, forgetting the routine of tests and assessments that go with it, as well as the mountains of paperwork. To be suddenly reminded of it was strangely unnerving.

I needn’t have worried however, as upon welcoming my tutor to the offices I found myself greeting a warm and easygoing Clare Wilson, Faculty Placements Manager.

From the off, Ms Wilson noted that my placement was different to the majority of my university classmates’; many find positions working for larger companies, accustomed to taking on interns and thus having clearly defined and fixed roles for their interns.

10gen, on the other hand, offers a true ‘start-up’ experience; all hands on deck, everyone mucking in and the chance to gain experience in a wide range of capacities. During my time here I have worked on projects with marketing, sales, outside companies and, of course, the community team. Each time I gain a fresh perspective and accrue new skills to help me in the future, as well as having the chance to work with a wide variety of wonderfully interesting people. It’s certainly something I love about my internship, and can recommend to anyone thinking of interning for a start-up.

One issue which was driven home pretty hard during the meeting was the importance of prepping for final year – numerous people, including my head of year, my line manager, former students, my placement tutor and even my parents have tried to press upon me the importance of using placement year constructively — in particular to prepare for dissertation writing. The reiteration of this fact was yet another reminder to prioritise this in the new year.

After an hour of nibbling on chocolate biscuits and chatting to our Community Marketing Manager, James Chesters, and 10gen’s EMEA Engineering Director, Alvin Richards, Ms Wilson seemed satisfied that I had found my perfect internship, and went on her way — like some kind of academic Mary Poppins, flitting her way between placement students in need all over Europe.

If nothing else, catching up with my placement tutor reinforced in my mind just how lucky I am to have landed such a great placement, with such fantastic and supportive people. Not only are my colleagues interested in ensuring I get the most out of my time working at 10gen, but also that I make time for my academic studies and am in good stead for returning to university next year. Bring it on!

James even wore a tie for meeting my tutor

 

Insight Of An Intern: Preparing For A Job Interview

November 14, 2012 in Community Internship, Community Marketing, CV advice, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Interview advice, Slideshow

Having been chosen from potentially huge numbers of applicants, you’ve reached the interview stage – congratulations!

Those few days before any interview can be a nerve-wracking time, so it can be difficult to channel your time into doing anything constructive. However, preparation is the key to any interview – though many people don’t actually realise this.

Preparing for an interview is vital for three main reasons:

1 – It helps you answer questions clearly and concisely. Although you can’t second guess every question you might be asked, if you are prepared you can tailor them to fit or at least draw upon them for inspiration.

2 – For your own confidence. If you’re prepared, your body language and demeanor will show it. For both interviewees and interviewers, there’s nothing more soul-sapping than an interview in which you have to drag ill-prepared and under-researched answers out.

3 – To show willing. The interview allows your potential employer a first opportunity to judge whether you’re right for the job, and showing you’re keen and organised enough to do your prep work is a big plus on any employer’s tick list.

With this in mind, the following article will provide you with some key pieces of advice for making sure you walk  into your interview room armed with as much relevant knowledge and confidence as possible.

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NaBloPoMo Entry 2: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

November 2, 2012 in Afterhours, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Networking, Personal, Slideshow

 

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
A.A. Milne

 

A lot of my spare time today was spent thinking about what to choose as the answer to November 2nd’s NaBloPoMo blog promt; If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

During the last few years I have had the good fortune to travel to many new and exciting locations; from moving out of my safe little hometown of Aberystwyth to study at the University of Bath, landing a placement year in the Big Smoke of London and jetting off to the far corners of Europe for pleasure and for work. In the years before, I have explored parts of China, Australia, Russia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and even the old US of A.

Each had its very own magic – an unidentifiable yet wholly tangible undercurrent which was entirely different from one country to the next, even if they were geographical neighbours.

Yet, whilst every single place I have been to has ignited my curiosity in its own way, I realise I am one of those people who will be a perpetual traveller. There is too much to see out there to be sat in one place for very long, too much to learn to tie yourself down to one spot. Don’t get me wrong – I look forward to the day when I one day have a home of my own, but I know I will always have ‘itchy feet’ and will be hankering for the next adventure.

It’s because of this personality trait that I came to the conclusion of today’s entry; for me, the place where I would choose to live is in the moment.

It seems to me that living in the moment is the single most important thing you can do with your life. If you are going through each day focused on the past or worrying about the future, how much are you really living your life?

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Surviving Unpaid Internships

September 17, 2012 in Community Internship, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, Personal

[Don’t forget to take part in the Internship Poll!]

It’s a tough time to be an intern at the moment. Though the number and range of internships in the UK have increased considerably in the last few years, a staggering 1 in 3 interns are working for nothing. Zilch. Nada.

A report by the TUC warned that many employers have sought to take advantage of students’ desperation to find work in the economic downturn and see interns as a useful source of free labour (though often this is breaking UK minimum wage and employment law).

Though an unpaid internship may be feasible for a lucky handful of students, for most of us the prospect is an impossible and undesirable one; and rightly so. True, you will be gaining a great deal from doing an internship, but it works both ways – as an intern you are contributing time, knowledge and skills to the company and so deserve to be treated as an employee. In fact, the prospect of a company (NGOs and charities excluded) deciding not to pay interns raises numerous flags for me personally, as I’d worry about the value and respect placed upon any intern who ended up there.

But if you can swing it financially, is an unpaid internship worth it? Probably not.  

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