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.

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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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The Lady is Not Returning: Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

April 8, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

Margaret-Thatcher-Conserv-007

On April the 8th 2013, Margaret Thatcher’s spokesman Lord Bell announced that the former prime minister had died following a stroke. Reactions in both the public and private spheres ranged from the caterwauling lamentation of the death of ‘the greatest British peacetime prime minister‘ to shouts of joy and calls for a public holiday to celebrate, vowing never to sanitise her ‘corrosive legacy’.

With an anti-Thatcher rally marking my first venture into the world of politics (admittedly, I was in-utero at the time!) I’ve long had a fascination for the heated reactions our first, and so far only, female Prime Minister provoked – and continues to provoke to this day. In particular, the way in which Margaret Thatcher came to power as leader of the Conservative party at the height of the women’s movement, yet remained completely apart from feminist campaigns, passions and identity.

I should also probably admit that a small part of me died when I learned that, in 1997, Geri Halliwell (of girl-power band The Spice Girls fame) referred to Maggie as “the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology.”

So why exactly does ‘Iron Spice’ get such a hard press from the feminist movement?

True, in Margaret Thatcher we saw a woman who achieved something that no British woman had done before or since, and that no woman in the United States has ever achieved. Yet the truth is that being the first woman British Prime Minister does not automatically make you a feminist icon.

Indeed, Maggie herself was quick to distance herself from the sisterhood, remarking that:

 “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”

For me, the mark of a ‘feminist icon’ is one who is equality-positive. She or he openly fights machismo and misogyny. Comparatively, on rape, domestic violence, childcare, benefits for single mothers, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual inequality, Thatcher did nothing. On top of this, Maggie allowed a grand total of ONE woman to her cabinet, Baroness Young.

That said, I feel Margaret Thatcher is perhaps over-reviled in today’s Leftist press – she was no worse than many of the men before her, or since, or now. It disturbs me that she is singled out and ruined with special hatred, base insults and grotesque mockery while male public figures far more loathsome are treated more respectfully. It seems a major part of her political legacy has been used as an excuse to justify the misogynist backlash against female leadership.

In summary, today I lament the loss of someone who could have been an incredible advocate for the women’s movement, and the equality of women everywhere. Instead of reminiscing about a true heroine of our time, I am mourning the waste of a remarkable opportunity, and am left chewing over the bitter taste of a staunchly reactionary matriarch who cared little for equality of any sort and who had a contemptuous indifference to those who she should otherwise have been helping.

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.

International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2013 in Afterhours, International Day of Happiness, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics

Happiness-Hands1

I hope you’re smiling, because March the 20th is (the first) International Day of Happiness.

As far as ‘International Days’ go, today is a mere dribbling baby; established by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012, Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/281, which states:

The General Assembly, […] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, […] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities […]

In keeping with the spirit of today, here’s a list of 25 things which ought to make you smile – or at least soften that grimace:

  1. The chances of you (as opposed to someone else) being born is about 1 in 40 million.
  2. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room.
  3. If you say “my cocaine” you sound like Michael Caine saying his own name.
  4. Smiles really are contagious. Scientists in Sweden concluded that people had difficulty frowning when the looked at other subjects who were smiling.
  5. Every year, millions of trees grow thanks to squirrels forgetting where they buried their nuts.
  6. A pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes.
  7. Penguins only have one mate their entire life and “propose” by giving their mate a pebble.
  8. Otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other.
  9. Wayne Allwine (the voice of Mickey Mouse) and Russi Taylor (the voice of Minnie Mouse) were married in real life.
  10.  For someone, somewhere in the world, today is the most amazing day of their life.
  11.  Sea horses mate for life, are completely faithful and travel together by holding on to each others tails.
  12. The kingdom of Bhutan use ‘gross national happiness’ as a key national indicator.
  13. A group of porcupines is called a prickle.
  14. Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.
  15. We’ve all been here forever. Every bit of matter we see has been here since the beginning of time and it always will be.
  16. Further to number 12, watch THIS VIDEO
  17. Costa Rica is statistically the happiest nation on Earth.
  18. Worms communicate by snuggling.
  19.  2013 is the first year since 1987 that consists for four different digits.
  20. Stressed is ‘desserts’ spelled backwards.
  21. Charlie Chaplin once entered a competition and won third prize. The competition was a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  22. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and nobody knows why.
  23. A mere 20 minutes of exercise, three days each week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.
  24.  Money does not buy happiness. After having your basic material needs met, additional money does not have any impact on your chemical levels of happiness.
  25. The most powerful way to increase your short-term feelings of happiness is to perform random acts of kindness to others, or to send a letter of gratitude to someone you care about. Five such acts in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months.

Know of any other interesting facts to make us smile? Please share them in the comments or drop me a message.

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.

Happy Holidays from IOAI.com

December 25, 2012 in Afterhours, Personal, Pictures

Merry Christmas from insight ofanintern.com

Merry Christmas from insightofanintern.com

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

 

NaBloPoMo 5: In Defence of the Red Fox

November 6, 2012 in Afterhours, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Personal, Pictures, Slideshow

You have seven hundred words to justify the existence of your favourite person, place, or thing.
Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

Sly. Wiley. Trickery. Deceit. The European red fox could rightly launch a defamation claim against the human race for how it has been portrayed in the folklore and mythology of numerous human cultures.

Even today the word ‘vermin’ is bandied around when referring to the red fox, when in fact it is not, and never has been, categorised as ‘vermin’ by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the only body empowered to impose the term on a wild species. A widely misunderstood animal, I’d like to use my NaBloPoMo post today to speak up in defence of my favourite animal, and hopefully change a few minds.

Foxes are often reviled for exhibiting traits which we humans supposedly find unattractive; scavenging, aggressiveness, cunning, ruthlessness and loner tendencies. This has always confused me, and in my mind shows a stubborn determination to see only the bad – if we were to flip these assumptions on their axes and look to positively anthropomorphise vulpine characterisctics, we may see an entirely different creature…

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Taking on the NaBloPoMo Challenge

November 1, 2012 in Afterhours, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Personal, Pictures, Slideshow, Technology

NaBloPoMo November 2012

 

IOAI.com will be taking part in NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month, which is upon us today.

The (hopefully) daily posts will be somewhat of a deviation from the norm for IOAI.com, as they will be inspired by NaBloPoMo writing promts, including the likes of:

  • If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?
  • If you had to get locked in some place (book store, amusement park, etc) overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?
  • Tell us about the worst trip you ever took.

Intern-oriented posts will continue to be published, and service as usual will resume come December. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the shake up, and come back for the daily updates and insights into a rather more personal side of my life.

 

Photos: 10gen London Office Warming Party

September 18, 2012 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, London Living, MongoDB, Networking, Personal, Pictures, Technology

Some of my time here at 10gen has been spent planning and organising the London office warming party, as we moved into our new offices only a few weeks ago. The party coincided with a special visit from 10gen President Max Schireson, who is normally based in our CA office.

A blog post on event organising is sure to follow in the next week or so, but for now I wanted to share some of the photos from the event itself – it was a great success, with a turn out of over 100 people.

The cupcakes which myself and a colleague made the night before seemed to go down a treat as well…