Back To School with Sun Campus Ambassador Raguraman

Across the world, hundreds of new and returning Sun Campus Ambassadors are going back to school. Sun's Campus Ambassador program hires university students as interns for what has got to be one of the most fun jobs a technology student could have. Basically, Sun pays you to learn how to use our state of the art open source technologies like the NetBeans IDE, OpenSolaris operating system, and OpenSPARC, two of the world's first free 64 bit CMT multiprocessors (the OpenSPARC T2 beta program is now open!). How cool is that, you can learn about the design of one of the world's most advanced 64 bit, 8 core, 64 thread CMT processors before we even begin shipping it in our servers! Of course, with 64 threads, you need a pretty powerful operating system, so that is where OpenSolaris comes in. While the NetBeans IDE has enough features to satisfy the most advanced computer science developer, it also has support for everything from simple drag and drop visual development to a mobility pack for building mobile phone apps. Even an EE major should be able to have a little fun developing for their Java-enabled cell phone.

While the traditional back to school time is different around the world, the Sun Campus Ambassador program swings into high gear in early September, after the U.S. Labor Day holiday. Right about now, it seems like every few hours a new campus ambassador is introducing him or herself on our internal campus ambassador mail alias. So much to my surprise (and eventually his too), when I arrived in Pune, India yesterday the first new email that popped up was from Raguraman, one of our newest campus ambassadors pursuing his MS in Advanced Software Technology at the International Institute of Information Technology (I2IT) in Pune. According to his introductory email, Raguraman has a BE in CSE from Anna University in Chennai where he was the General Secretary of the Association of Computer Science and Engineers (ASCOME) during his senior year. He also played university level football as an undergrad and has a Black Belt in karate. Despite those distinguished credentials, Raguraman was quite surprised when a certain Sun executive emailed him yesterday welcoming him to the Sun Campus Ambassador program and inviting him to meet that afternoon to discuss the program. So here are a few tips for anyone who is or wants to be a Sun Campus Ambassador.

  • Study hard, but be sure to take time for some non-academic activities too. Not everyone can play university level football or be a Black Belt, but have a passion for life, not just for school
  • If you are interested in an internship or full time job at Sun, check out our the Student Zone on sun.com.
  • Some Sun software requires you to register on Sun.com. So start by doing that. It takes only a few minutes and once registered you can use your Sun Online ID for any Sun.com web site.
  • Get OpenSolaris, you can either download it or order a free Solaris DVD (with free shipping), so don't worry if you don't have a fast Internet connection.
  • You will also want to register for OpenSolaris.org I've actually lobbied that OpenSolaris.org should accept Sun.Com online IDs, but our open source gurus wanted their own separate registration system. Maybe next time we revamp the OpenSolaris.org web site we will use our own Federated Identity Manager software to allow that (hint to OpenSolaris.org team).
  • Join an OpenSolaris User Group, there is one already in Pune by the way, or start a new OpenSolaris user group if there isn't one nearby.
  • Get NetBeans. Again, you can either download for free or order a free CD. Yes, I know, as Raguraman told me, the average professor's idea of an advanced IDE is Notepad, but there are better tools.
  • Learn about OpenSPARC. Unless you are an EE major you may not want to use the OpenSPARC RTL to design your own microprocessor, but everyone should study the design. One of the biggest challenges for developers in the next decade will be to adopt their programming models to the increasingly multicore and multithreaded processors from every CPU vendor. Sun just happens to be a little ahead of the game right now with the 8 core, 64-thread UltraSPARC T2.
  • Finally, don't wait for a Sun executive to contact you. Once you get your Sun employee ID, logon to our internal website and find a nearby Sun executive, introduce yourself by email, and setup a meeting. I should have told Raguraman, don't bother getting dressed up, whatever you wear to school is fine, Sun has a very informal dress code.
  • Finally, share what you learn with your fellow students and your teachers. And tell us what we should be doing differently. Sun takes feedback from our Campus Ambassadors seriously. Last June, our CEO invited five campus ambassadors (including one from India) to travel to California to meet with his extended staff and provide their frank, honest feedback. We videotaped the staff meeting and then played it back to all 150+ Sun VPs at our annual VP meeting in August.

    So if you are one of our new Campus Ambassadors, welcome to Sun. If you are returning for another year, welcome back. And ask Raguraman if I'm serious when I say I want to meet with as many of you as possible to learn about how you think we should be making Solaris better!

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