Steven Sakayroun, Class of 2016, who is a triple major in Math, Computer Science and French, has spent 10 weeks this summer on an internship at IBM–one of the dream companies for IT workers. Steven is an actively involved student at Westminster. He is the founder and president of Citizen of Your World ; the president of the Break Dance Club; one of the leaders at Westminster Poverty Initiative; an officer of Civicus; a committee member of the International Club,and the treasurer of the French Club. He also published a novel “Assassin“ in French.
Here, he shares with us his story about interning at IBM and how his Westminster education prepared him for such a great and challenging opportunity.
Q: Why did you pursue this internship? What company is it with?
A: Exploring internship opportunities came out of my passion for practical learning. I chose to pursue an internship with International Business Machines because I wanted to not only apply what I had learnt in class to real world cases but most importantly to understand the dynamics powering a renowned technology corporation.
Q: How did you get the internship?
A: I applied through a website named African Career Network monitored by the African Leadership Academy and the MasterCard Foundation. However, internship opportunities can be found on the IBM’s official website. (http://www.ibm.com/)
Q: How long is the internship?
A: My internship was 10 weeks long.
Q: What are you doing through your internship?
A: I was working on a brand new project in the IBM systems and technology group as a software developer intern. I was working more specifically on researching, implementing and integrating a testing framework in the environment of the project.
Q: What did you expect to learn?
A: I was expecting to learn more about the intricacies of implementing projects at such a big scale.
Q: What have you learned?
A: I have learned several concepts from familiarizing myself with the Linux operating system to understanding how testing automation works on big projects. As I was also given the opportunity to port the testing environment to AIX, the IBM operating system, I also got to familiarize myself with the AIX environment.
Q: What is the office environment like? Can you draw us a picture of your daily work life?
A: I was one of seven interns in my department and the only intern on my project. I had a couple of team members in my group but worked directly with only four of them. I shared my office with another intern. I had a computer, phone and desktop of my own provided by the company. I was very pleased with the level of responsibility that I was trusted. For instance, the testing platform that I selected got approved by the team and has been/will be the platform that the testing team will use throughout the development of the whole project.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing about the internship?
A: The systems and technology group provides a very fast paced environment. My biggest challenge was that I had to work late as most the concepts I worked with were new to me. In order for me to provide useful insights about next steps that my the team could look into, I had to not only understand the new concepts that I was thrown at but master them. I must say that this was the most challenging and rewarding aspect of this internship.
Q: What’s the best thing?
A: There are several best sides to IBM. The bestest part would be the people. The support and mentoring that I got from my managers and team members on a daily basis has made all the difference.
Q: Do you see ways in which Westminster prepared you for the experience?
A: My classes at Westminster College definitely helped ease the transition to the IBM environment. The critical thinking that teachers at Westminster College constantly trained students to seek is one piece that was really helpful to me during my time at IBM. Indeed, when I first came to IBM, as mentioned earlier, most of the concepts that I had to deal with were unfamiliar to me, therefore applying critical thinking to the research I had to do was not only necessary but it was crucial.
Q: What are your future career plans?
A: I am currently thinking about digging more into data analysis. I got the chance to work closely with a software architect and it spurred my interest into learning more about the area as well.
Q: Anything to add?
A: I would strongly encourage students to look into internships as early as they can as I personally think that this experience changed the way I view my classes now. I can now understand the why of some of the concepts that I have learnt and how they are used in the real world.