Hi, if you’ve read the headline and still decided to proceed, we would like to welcome you in our story about the experience of having an internship within SUSE Linux company in the Prague office.
This text compares the experience with internships from a different industry, describes the Prague’s SUSE establishment and employees’ approach for the new interns along with 5 reasons why any IT student or someone with a passion for Linux should try to take an internship in this company.
This article is for people interested to how a company such as SUSE treats interns and new or potential interns aka employees. or simply for people who would like to know what does it taste like to be an intern in SUSE.
We are Thomas and David, friends who met at a high school and have the same passion.
Daily routines of endless playing with computers, comparing different devices, interest in a different type of software, video editing, web development and hardware architecture which made us think if we should start to concentrate on IT.
While we were working on our dissertation, we realized that we were focusing more on technical details of the work rather than on the academic part of our final project. As the passion of IT and digital technology could not be overlooked anymore we have decided for a career transition.
Luckily, even though it was quite late, there are universities providing Master’s degree in IT for people who have no similar education or previous experience.
We have been unconditionally offered a place at the University of Sunderland in the MSc. Computing course and later we got the opportunity to have an internship in SUSE.
We both went to UNI with 1-year placement. The UNI had done its best to get us to the highest rated hospitality facilities across UK and US. We went to a four-star hotel in London, and a platinum star awarded private golf club, in Greenwich Connecticut.
It is necessary to say, that the entire experience of the UNI internships was completely different than what we experienced in SUSE, there is no real training provided in most hospitality facilities, working conditions could sometimes be described as inhuman, the management was sometimes extremely autocratic, unfair distribution of extra tips, not even mentioning the demotivating salary and so on.
For sure, busy hospitality environments cannot concentrate that much on training and development of their employees and especially of the interns and you may also be arguing that in some places they really do. However, we have been in hospitality for 10 years going through the “bad places” and the really fancy ones and it was shockingly similar in all of them.
We tried different areas of hospitality, front office, accounts, regular waiting among other and of course not all of them were a disappointment, at the end, we actually thought that some of them would not be so bad for a future career until we came to SUSE….
It is probably unnecessary to mention but the SUSE company in Prague has a modern and clean open space office, however, its furniture and equipment were, for us, a very new experience in terms of how some offices can be equipped and maintained. Some people might say it is a standard for IT companies to have such a facilities. On the other hand, friends of ours who work in IT were also surprised, when we were expressing our feelings about going to lay on fatboys, playing “fotbalek”, (Czech name for table soccer, that every foreign in the office knows by now) or having massage during off-peak (of course) working times.
The possibility of cooking yourself a lunch in the office’s kitchen, the selection of drinks, fresh fruit, coffee at any time and other dozens of benefits that made us wonder whether the employees even can appreciate it enough
We don’t want to look like that we only wrote this to express how SUSE is a perfect working place, but we just have to admit the overall approach of the employees to us was very friendly and professional.
We spend our internship in the technical support department, and we believe even if we won’t get a job in the company (who knows?), we have made friends for life there
The Prague Team Manager Sascha Weber, who was very nice since our first interview over Skype took us to meet and greet with the people from the rest of the department and gave us first information about it. We found the rest of the people very friendly and helpful as well, unfortunately, we did not have that many chances to spend some time with them as two months went by very fast.
Sascha introduced us to team members of the office and explained that Matteo (the Team Coordinator), may help us.
It was extremely noticeable that members of the team represent the first point of communication between customers and the company as the first impression was fantastic. Every single member was friendly, offering help and were able to recognize the level of our knowledge.
Matteo explained to us, what the entire internship will cover, he explained that we will be looking at some tickets but that we will spend time in other departments like the Sales and QA department.
Although SUSE is not probably the biggest company in the world and has not many previous experiences with interns (at least in Prague), the way the internship started was very well prepared and it was obvious that someone spent a big amount of time in thinking how such an internship should be done.
We were provided with laptops and a desk that we could work at.
As we sat down and looked at our first meeting with Linux OS we started to realize how the SUSE office work. We were given study materials about Linux administration that are necessary to learn the basic of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 system
Matteo helped us with installing all the necessary software and gave us the details to login into the software for internal and external communication.
Again, we would like to stay neutral and not mention only pros of the company, however, there were no cons so far and we just think it is important to compliment a good work and Matteo definitely made a good work while mentoring us. He found the way of how to communicate with us (as people with very little experience in IT) and not be seen by us as someone from a different galaxy, even though he has more than 10 years of experience in what he is doing.
He was careful with not overloading us with information and let us settle down a little bit so we could absorb everything. Next days we were slowly getting into the atmosphere.
Another point of the whole experience which we found vital was a personal meeting with Matteo and Sascha. The guys explained effectively how the ticketing system works, fundamentals of the company but most importantly, they were willing to listen to us. They asked, what we were expecting from the internship and what we want to learn. The conversation was very friendly and definitely helped us to get rid of any potential frustration we could possibly have.
The personal approach was the aspect we liked the most.
After we settled down we were taken to our first training, it was about networking and the OSI model and we found it very interesting and even though Tami tried to explain everything in an easy way, there were still things we did not understand completely, but we do now.
During the two months, we had more training, all of them were very well organized and extremely informative. All colleagues were very open to any questions we had, even though we did not have many.
Another exceptional experience for us was something company calls “Lunch and Learn”. As the name hints, the company pays for lunch and one of the members of the team members talks about new technologies, the way some issues can be troubleshooted or even about soft skills when communicating with customers. The “Lunch and Learn” is something that we found very innovative and pleasant.
Another aspect we really liked was how the team communicates. Several meetings during the week, breaking down the issues customers have and discussion within other layers of the support ensures that no issue will remain unsolved.
Meeting with Technical Account / Presales Engineer
Meeting with Martin at some point of our internship was also a really interesting part of the story. A gentleman with many years of experience from different companies sacrificed more than three hours of his busy day just to explain how the whole sales department works. He explained his background, layers of the department and was open to any questions we had, but again, his explanation was so comprehensive and meaningful that we had not many questions to ask.
In this way, we would like to thank him once again for the time he spent with us.
Meeting with QA Maintenance Team Manager
The second meeting with departmental representatives was with Branislav. As this department required advanced experience with company’s products, it was even difficult for us to understand the elementary workflow the department is based on. Branislav, however, managed to explain everything in the way which we were able to pick up and willingly answered all our questions. From our point of view, the QA department seemed to be the most complex one and we felt that for someone like us, it would take very long time to get into this. Nevertheless, Branislav also made a great job and we were very grateful for him having us in, for a very educative meeting.
L3 Support Department
Meeting with L3 Support Manager
The third meeting was a very engaging session with Petr. As this session was on the same day as the QA meeting we had the chance to compare and see the workflow between each support level together which helped us to realize the interconnection between departments. Branislav and Petr clearly explained how receiving tickets go from the L1 customer service to the L3 and when there is, for example, a PTF , how the QA department assures reliability of the released product. The similarities in L2 and L3 support helped us to understand how guys from L3 work. Besides much technical information around how such a department works, Petr made a great job to entertain us and while talking to him we also had lots of fun. Very well educative and entertaining appointment.
To be completely objective, we were trying to find some cons as well. The only thing that comes to our mind would be some outdated internal software which slowed down not just our learning progress but also the workflow of the team.
By the conclusion, we would like to thank everyone who participated in our internship in any way. We know that all the individuals who worked with us are busy professionals and we are glad they found some time to mentor us thru the time in SUSE, we definitely do not take it as granted.
Tomas & David