We’ve Moved – Come Join Us!

November 13, 2014 in Slideshow, Uncategorized

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Due to having (thankfully!) outgrown the basic requirements for writing a blog entitled ‘Insight of an Intern’, I haven’t been writing blog articles for a while.

I’ve missed it.

In light of this, today I launched a swanky new blog over at Project Soapbox, where the first ever blog article was just published! If you enjoyed the musings of IOAI.com, I think you’ll like it.

See you over there!

 

Voting: There is NEVER a reason to be silent

May 22, 2014 in Activism, Politics, Slideshow

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I realise it’s been an age since I posted on here, but today I have had a few messages asking me to explain why I feel so passionately that people should exercise their right to vote. By the same token, I’ve seen a few disheartening statuses from people who feel such a sense of disillusionment with UK politics that they see no point at all in partaking in the election process. My answer to you is: THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO BE SILENT. 

I understand completely why so many people feel alienated from the political process, or so severely let down by those who claim to represent us. I understand that you feel that the politicians are in the pay of big business, that all the major parties are the same, that no one is representing your views, that the smaller parties and independents don’t stand a hope in hell, that the political system of our country is broken or, devastatingly, that you believe voting doesn’t change anything.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

IOAI.com – Now A Featured Blog

February 12, 2013 in Afterhours, Community Marketing, Introduction, Networking, Personal, Slideshow, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Technology

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I am happy to announce that InsightOfAnIntern.com has been selected as a Featured Publisher by Shareaholic –  the leader in making content discovery & sharing on the web. Look out for IOAI.com appearing in their Careers Channel as of tomorrow!

Spotted at a University Near You: Sexism, Classism and Racism

January 16, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, Personal, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow, Social Media, University of Bath

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An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

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An example of the posts causing such controversy at The University of Bath

UPDATE: Please click here to see the University of Bath’s statement on the matter.

Since first hearing about ‘Spotted at…‘ Facebook pages — the latest craze to hit UK Universities — I must admit to not having paid them much attention. Frankly, I wasn’t too bothered about what sounded like a rather more risqué version of those cute Metro ‘Missed Connections‘ snippets.

Apparently prolific in the university social media scene, UoB’s very own ‘Spotted: University Bath Library’ page has gained over 4000 likes since its inception in early December 2012. The premise of such groups, for those who may not have had the pleasure of first hand experience, is that students make observations about fellow students in the library which are then re-posted on the ‘Spotted’ page.

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Innocent enough, you’d think — but the page has been coming under fire over claims of promoting sexual harassment, sexism, racism and classism, and is facing a vocal backlash from many in the University of Bath community. 

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The ‘D’ word – Dissertation Planning

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

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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