Intern Life at Mozilla

Jun 14, 2015   #old  #mozilla 

A short preface

I just finished the fourth week of twelve at Mozilla. I’m going to offer up two recent anecdotes from my internship that will hopefully paint some picture of how awesome it’s been.

But before I do that, allow me a quick aside: Mozilla corporate has more than 1000 employees and “spaces” in 12 cities and was incorporated 10 years ago. It’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, which has been around since 1998.

Here are two “WHAT?!” moments that I can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

The Whiskey

The Tuesday before last, I was finishing up my work for the day, and I decided to head home. I threw my laptop in my backpack and headed downstairs to grab a beer to take home. When I arrived in the downstairs kitchen I found Chris Beard and Dave Camp (Mozilla’s CEO and Director of Engineering of Firefox respectively) pulling bottles of whiskey out of the liquor cabinet and lining them up in a row on the counter.

I had spent a minute or two shiftily texting in the corner when Chris Beard looked over at me and said “We’re going up to the patio to drink some whiskey, care to join us?” Having turned 21 a little over a month ago at this point, I can count the amount of times I’ve been asked to drink whiskey on one (okay, maybe two) hands. You don’t need any hands to count how many times I’ve been asked to drink whiskey by the CEO of a company, let alone the company that employs me.

I offered up a high pitched affirmative yelp, and in 5 minutes Mozilla’s Director of Human Resources was carding me and telling me that my license looked fake. Someone else chimed in: “He’d have to be pretty stupid to try to pass off a fake ID at work!”

After some more jokes I was out on the balcony, pouring myself a glass and enjoying the company of Chris, Dave, and Erica Jostedt, Mozilla’s Head of Global Communications.

What followed was a normal conversation between friends, and, inexplicably, an intern of less than a month. They let me in on jokes, explained Mozilla terminology, asked questions, and kindly poked fun. I felt at home, while constantly looping over the same thought: “What kind of company DOES this?!”

The Strategy

Last Friday I was sitting at my desk like normal, when I stood up and saw the Battle.net client open to the Starcraft II page on a laptop on the desk across from me. That laptop was a Razer Blade, and that desk belongs to Nick Nguyen, Mozilla’s VP of Product Strategy. Nick was one of the first people I met at Mozilla. He introduced himself right off the bat and offered his help, and he always offers a greeting in the mornings. So when I asked if he played Starcraft, his friendly response “Yeah, do you have it on your work machine?” didn’t surprise me too much.

I told Nick that I hadn’t played recently and didn’t have it installed, and that I probably shouldn’t play at work anyways (in my head there’s an imaginary line drawn between playing games in Mozilla’s game room and playing games at one’s desk).

His reply stuck with me: “When a VP tells you to install Starcraft, you install it!”

For the next 45 minutes, Nick and I were playing Starcraft at our desks, indiscreetly discussing tactics over the short divider walls, and getting some fun comments from passersby. (JRGM’s “That doesn’t look like Go code…” among them)

We teamed up and won both of the 2v2 matches we played. It turned out Nick’s strategy skills aren’t limited to his job in Product Strategy! (although he could have researched Stimpack earlier… I’m putting it down in his quarterly review.)

Concluding Thoughts

I’m a third of the way through my internship, and I’ve already had some amazing experiences. I’ve hung out with the CEO of Mozilla, drank margaritas on company dime, played Starcraft on company time, gone to Yosemite and Santa Cruz with other interns, and of course gotten some work done in between. On top of that, my coworkers are awesome people - I run into them rock climbing, eating at restaurants, and at the beach - and they’re just as cool in the real world. I come in every day and make an espresso, grab some yogurt with fresh fruit, and sit down to start coding.

I’m loving interning at Mozilla and continue to be excited by each passing moment!