Choosing to take the 1,500-mile trip down to San Antonio, Texas the morning after I graduated high school in place of spending my last summer before going to college in Michigan with my friends was not easy. In hindsight, however, I am glad I did.
FIRST is an organization that helps students develop skills in variety of areas, suchas in programming, engineering, project management, and business. Throughout high school, I was a member of the FIRST Robotics Team #245, the “AdamBots.” On the “AdamBots,” I created the team website, graphics, and also helped with a business plan to relate our team’s strategy for success and impact. In March, my team traveled to San Antonio for the Alamo Regional (one of the largest FIRST regionals in the world). Coincidentally, Rackspace was the title sponsor of the FIRST Alamo Regional.
At FIRST competitions, judges give an assortment of awards to teams that show strengths in different areas. At the Alamo Regional, Mr. Klee Kleber, a Rackspace SVP, happened to be judging team business plans and models for the “Entrepreneurship Award.” I presented and discussed our team’s business plan with the judges and our team was eventually selected for the award. The following day, Mr. Kleber came back and suggested I look into Rackspace and get in touch with him. A week later, I sent a letter and my resume, not expecting much. Surprisingly, however, I received a call notifying me of a summer internship opportunity not long after.
Above all, I learned a tremendous amount about cloud technology and various business fundamentals while at Rackspace. I developed a strong understanding of the still nascent cloud industry and OpenStack by learning from Rackers, completing CloudU, and participating in the Cloud Builders OpenStack training. Working with my mentor, I also learned some basic principals of finance, such as present value, net present value, discounted cash flows, and how each of those is used in analysis models to make better business decisions. Additionally, I was exposed to the small intricacies of business operation like deadlines, meetings, communication, collaboration, complications, and leadership.
Not only did I learn while at Rackspace, but I also contributed to meaningful projects. I researched and developed a pricing model for a potential future product, using net present value calculated from discounted cash flows. Alongside a fellow “Racktern,” I helped redesign and develop a more user-friendly portal for Rackspace’s legal team, Rack Law, within Rackspace’s internal website. I also designed a new user interface for Rackspace’s Racker Map—an internal location service for rooms, departments, fueling stations, and more—that is in the process of being implemented.
What truly made my experience unique was exposure to Rackspace’s incredible culture. The machine gun Nerf guns, life-size Aragorn standups, “Come and Take it” flags, ping-pong tables, a giant slide, and crazy meeting room names all contribute to Rackspace’s “work-hard-play-hard” atmosphere. Overall, the atmosphere makes Rackers more human and genuine and blurs the line between work and outside life. Personally, I am grateful for the attention and engagement I received at Rackspace. Not only did I have opportunities in the workplace, but also away from it. My mentor took me on a 15-mile hike, to a team outing, and to one of San Antonio’s “First Friday” events. The internship program also organized multiple events including a volunteer day at the Animal Defense League to get everybody together.
Ultimately, my time as a “Racktern” has been a fun, valuable work and learning experience. In my opinion, the decision to bring me in as a “Racktern” is a testament Rackspace’s strong commitment to and investment in the future. Rackspace’s willingness to invite me to intern shows its confidence in FIRST and the type of student it produces. I am thankful for the opportunity FIRST provided and all the awesome Rackers that made this experience possible for me.Category: Rackers Tags: Internships