Editor – This is the third post in our blog series about what it’s like to work at NGINX. Check out the entire series!
Lorcan McVeigh is pursuing his degree in Computer Science at University College Cork and did an internship with the NGINX Product Group at F5 from March through September 2019. Before he finished up at our Cork office, we sat down with Lorcan to find out what he learned from his time working at NGINX and what advice he’d give to others looking for a career in technology.
What was your experience of NGINX?
When I started, I was put on a project and that kept me busy – I needed to learn a new programming language and how to use the systems. Then I was put on the open source NGINX Ingress Controller for Kubernetes project, which blew open a huge new avenue of learning. This project meant learning completely new technologies in depth – Kubernetes, Docker, and Git. It was really good for gaining knowledge. It’s been a very long six months in the best possible way and I know it’s going to stand me in good stead for the future.
In terms of career building, I’m now part of the open source community and my name is out there. I got to learn Kubernetes Ingress, one of the most sought‑after technologies right now. One of the biggest things for me was getting to work on an Ingress controller not just at a high level but at an in‑depth one. Being on an open source project is one of the best things about the internship. It’s not just peers judging your code, but also community members opening PRs against it – your work has to be clear and concise.
How would you describe the culture in your team?
Relaxed, even with Eric [Douglas, VP of Engineering] and Peter [Kelly, Director of Engineering]. Peter’s a great manager. He has a lot of responsibility but still always makes time for his engineers. When I get stuck, he will give me a way to fix something or refer me to someone who can fix it. He’s relaxed, understanding, and fun to joke with and hang out with.
The culture here is unbelievable, to say the least. If I got stuck on something, the teams were including me and supporting me. Once you show interest, they are willing to take you along. It wasn’t long before I was getting the inside jokes too. There’s an understanding that everyone works at their own pace and that you get your work done. It’s so inclusive; the team feel more like friends than colleagues. Even outside the team, the culture was the same throughout the office with the sales and marketing teams. There’s socialising outside of work hours, which adds to the experience.
How do you feel you’ve changed pre‑ and post‑NGINX?
I think I have a better understanding of what I need to know and don’t need to know. Pre‑NGINX, I only knew about the big tech companies with development or customer‑support centres in the Cork area. Whereas now I see that just because you don’t get into a big company doesn’t mean you won’t be working on great projects and game‑changing products. In fact, getting into a smaller company like NGINX at F5 Networks can give you a lot of freedom and more exposure to doing various things. You get to work on something important for the company, not just maintaining code. You get to work on something relevant and new, not throwaway projects.
Do you think your confidence has changed?
Absolutely. Beforehand I was unsure about how good I was at coding and believed that you had to be the best to do well after college. Working here made me see that just because you are the best doesn’t mean you will fit in with the team or get on well with your manager. It’s more about being able to communicate with your team and get along with people.
I am definitely a better programmer than I was coming into the company. There’s still a knowledge gap but definitely I feel I have become a more pragmatic programmer. Being out in the industry, I see that you are never really under the kinds of constraints there are in college assignments. In the real world, you design a way around the problem or redesign the solution so that you don’t have to patch a problem. If you are facing a problem, it’s not just you who has the problem – it’s the team as a whole working together to solve it.
What would your advice be to someone beginning an internship at NGINX?
Ask questions. If you make a mistake it’s an opportunity to learn.
And if you were given the opportunity to work at NGINX again would you?
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Life at NGINX is only as good as the people who work with us and share our values. To find out more about what drives us as part of the F5 family, read about #[email protected] on our blog, and check out #LifeatNGINX on Twitter and the complete #[email protected] blog series.