May 2005 - October 2005
After two years of working for the government, I was ready to see what the wild corporate world had to offer. Plenty of powerful corporate entities have a strong presence in the DC metro area, and in this regard I was lucky to find a summer internship at the International Business Machines (IBM) International Global Finance (IGF) center in Bethesda, MD (now in Gaithersburg, MD).
Immediately upon entry, I began to notice some huge differences between the corporate and federal work worlds. Whereas the NSA had a relatively relaxed attitude toward work*, IBM thrived on deadlines and hard numbers. I was brought in to contribute to a product in the process of being released, and as such had very strict and always quickly approaching dates to observe.
I started out writing and performing unit tests on GCPS, a suite of software meant to standardize the ordering process of IBM's many international customers. From here, I moved to creating a web frontend for the end user to interact with a large DB2 database, obscuring the nitty-gritty details of SQL.
It was pretty neat getting to see the results of my work shipped every three or four weeks to a new country. It was also pretty neat, in a different way, hearing from end users about any bugs still in the software (not that there were any, of course). My time at IBM really clarified my idea of a large corporation works, how smaller teams are managed, and gave me a nice portal into a different portion of the software development cycle.
*: This is not to say that my group at the NSA did not focus on getting great work done. The "laid back" attitude mentioned above is something I've learned to associate with all research. Missing a deadline in industry just matters more than missing one in academia/federal research work, as a company can go out of business more easily than the government (hopefully). It's just a different atmosphere.
Point of contact: please get in touch with me for this information.