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My amazing California journey as a French undergrad software engineer.

Most days, the first thing I do in the morning is wake up and check my email. That’s normal, but on March 2014, I received a special email that would change my life forever. This email was from the Cumulus Networks VP of Engineering, Shrijeet Mukherjee, offering me an internship on the Cumulus Networks engineering team. I was so thrilled that I literally jumped out of bed and started the victory dance (which by the way is much stronger than a cup of coffee).

I could have ended up interning at a less “cool” random French consulting company, but I wasn’t really passionate about this option anymore now that I had the opportunity to join the hottest startup in the networking industry in Mountain View, California.

I’m so excited to share my experience!

My time at Cumulus Networks, May through September 2014, was the final internship of my bachelor program at EPITECH in Rennes, France, where I’ve been pursuing a 5-year Bachelor/Masters degree in Software Engineering. I had several internship offers in various parts of the world (Germany, Philippines, Estonia and of course, France) but I turned down all of them to join the Rocket Turtle’s company.

From the first day, I felt right at home. Everyone was really welcoming, extremely smart and passionate about open networking. I knew that I had made the right decision for a number of reasons:

Being Part of a Revolution

Since I was young, I had always wanted to join the software industry to have the opportunity to contribute to something concrete. My goal is for my work to have a true impact on people, even if they have no idea who’s behind the work. This is exactly what Cumulus Networks is all about. We are unleashing the power of open networking and accelerating its adoption with Cumulus Linux, the operating system for open networking. We are not just defining the future of networking; we are actively creating it with our customers and partners. Being part of this is very challenging, especially for a 21-year-old software intern. I am very proud to say that many lines of my code are actually running on millions of switch ports in various data centers all over the world, and all of this hardware runs some piece of the Internet. WOW!

The Techie Dream: Silicon Valley!

The company’s HQ is located literally 1 kilometer away from Google, NASA, Microsoft and other tech companies. I am still amazed that in this little piece of land called Silicon Valley, you can find all the giant tech companies and thousands of smaller ones. It’s like almost every person you meet on the street or on the Caltrain works for a tech company. Many of them are really successful. Some people are very famous but you wouldn’t really notice it because they don’t drive a fancy car or anything. I wasn’t really expecting that but at the end of the day they are just normal people like you and me.

The Cumulus Networks offices are set up in an open space model, with sit/stand desks for every employee. We have excessively fancy espresso machines and table tennis. We have catered lunches 3 times per week, and stock organic fruit in the kitchen. There is also a perfect sound system if you want to drop the bass during a late-night coding session!

With the perfect weather of the San Francisco South Bay, it’s really nice to live here. The area is pretty active so there is a lot to do.

The Rocket Turtle Team’s Expertise

When I arrived I quickly noticed the value and expertise gathered around JR Rivers, the co-founder and CEO. The Cumulus Networks team comprises some of the most prestigious innovators in networking technology. This diverse group of technology  and business pioneers has its roots in industry-leading organizations including Cisco, Google, VMware and Juniper. They have driven many advances in networking and system software. Now, at Cumulus Networks, this team has come together with the unified vision of driving the next networking revolution in the data center. Surrounded by highly skilled people, I learned new things every day. Working alongside the best in your field is both really challenging and rewarding. Cumulus Networks is playing seriously. It’s a very tech-driven company, and has earned a lot of industry recognition in a short period of time.

Just an Internship? Not at All!!

I feel like this was more than just an internship. I wasn’t simply “an intern.” I was part of the team, part of the company. I was treated like any other engineer. I had lots of responsibilities and was invited to every engineering and company meeting. My internship project was entirely mine, with guidelines from Shrijeet and Roopa Prabhu (my supervisors and mentors), but I was completely free to choose the design and implementation of my ideas. It wasn’t just some BS project given to interns for the sake of having interns.

Later, I was joined by another French intern, and together we worked hard on this project and then presented it to our engineering peers. It was really rewarding to receive so much positive feedback. Soon, anybody can download Pyjeet (yes, we named our tool after our internship mentor) and it might even be shipped by default with the Cumulus Linux OS.

I am extremely impressed by how much I learned while working here. I remember how lost I felt on my first day and how powerful I felt on the last. None of this would have been possible without Shrijeet, who took the bet on hiring me while I was more than 6,000 miles away.

If you are still not sure that Cumulus Networks is a cool company to work for, check out Susie’s blog post: 7 Reasons Why I Love Working at Cumulus Networks (And Why You Might Too).

Many thanks to Roopa for mentoring Alex and me. I hope to see you guys next year! 🙂