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Rebasing my career

'When I found out that SilverStripe was offering summer internships through Summer of Tech, I knew it had to be.' Raissa North recounts her experiences as an intern and what lead her to SilverStripe in the first place.

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Changing careers is not an easy move, but it can be done. I have many interests and creative pursuits, consequently I have studied and worked in a variety of disciplines over the years. I only recently discovered my love for programming and have since been on a journey to learn new skills in the field and establish myself in the tech sector.

After graduating with a degree in Software Development and gaining some work experience as a developer, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted from my next internship - I was looking for an organisation that offered an open minded team culture and would actively support me in my professional development and growth.

Long before I considered working at SilverStripe, I joined one of their StripeGirls meetups titled Why we love tech, fittingly hosted on Valentine’s Day. I felt very welcomed and comfortable at the meetup. The quality of the presentations and the organisation’s commitment to give back to the local tech community inspired me - I became a regular attendee. When I found out that SilverStripe was offering summer internships through Summer of Tech, I knew it had to be.

Raisaa sitting at #2 on the SilverStripe commit leaderboardRaissa at #2 on the SilverStripe commits leaderboard

Values aligned

What inspired me to apply for this internship, and what made SilverStripe appealing to me as a potential intern, was that its employees live and breathe open source. As a former public librarian, I am passionate about equal access to resources and information. The company’s core business aligns closely with my values. Furthermore, using a content management system as an author as part of one of my first jobs was what sparked my initial interest in web development.

After going through the intern hiring process, I was delighted to be offered a position in the Creative Commoners team. Our job is to support, upgrade, and develop SilverStripe modules that are part of the Common Web Platform. CWP provides government agencies with a platform-as-a-service that allows them to host websites and manage their online content.

By essentially providing the public sector with better digital tools, my work is meaningful, which is important to me. At the same time the internship has allowed me to break out of my comfort zone - professionally as well as personally. For instance, I am now accustomed to programming in a language I had limited experience with as well as deep dived into an existing code base to make updates and fixes. At SilverStripe, we have team days where we get out of the offices and participate in an activity. During our team day out to the Adrenaline Forest, I conquered my fear of heights and learned that I could rely on my team members regardless of the setting. These experiences have made my internship at SilverStripe not only valuable from a professional standpoint but also for my personal growth.

Creative Commoners team after finishing a high ropes course

The Creative Commoners team after finishing a high ropes course

Riding the learning curve

Of course, not everything made sense from the get go. I had to come to terms with being a beginner again, but looking back I now see how much I have learned in just under three months. It’s opportunities like this internship that push you to learn, make mistakes and help shape who you are, something I'm very grateful for having the opportunity to experience.

Taking delight in lifelong learning, I particularly value the strong position SilverStripe takes on providing opportunities for its employees to develop their skill sets. I benefited from attending Lunch & Learn and Snack & Stream sessions, as well as having access to a suite of e-learning courses - I was actively encouraged to spend a decent amount of time to upskill. I also received regular, focused mentoring to make sure I was on track and happy.

People are everything

Working within my team, I felt included and welcomed from day one. I received valuable support and learned a ton from my experienced and talented colleagues. Working in a small, but dedicated team, means we work together closely and even as an intern I was neither overlooked nor could I hide. I also feel fortunate enough to collaborate with the wider SilverStripe community, receiving direct feedback and confirmation from the entire community on the work we do. Open source software exposes our team to not only the benefits of the technology but also the problems people encounter with it on a daily basis. This keeps us grounded in the work we do and holds us accountable to maintain the highest of standards.

In alignment with my initial perception, SilverStripers truly are approachable and lovely people, who are passionate about the company, invested in the work they do and knowledgeable about all things SilverStripe.

I am grateful that I had the courage to make the move into tech, that my hard work paid off, that I landed an ace internship and get to continue working in open source and tech. Fortunately, my internship has proven not only a summer job, but turned into a career. I told you, it can be done.

Interns performing a standup

The interns at a stand-up

If you are interested in seeing the previous intern blog you can see it here.

Would you like to become a member of the SilverStripe team? There are openings available now, so take a look at our careers page!

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About the author
Raissa North

Raissa is a Software Development graduate and the latest addition to SilverStripe’s Creative Commoners team. She loves expanding her skill set by learning all things SilverStripe and web development.

If she is not coding away, Raissa enjoys Wellington’s many beautiful bays by foot, bike or swimming.

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