RACKSPACE VISIT TO RADFORD UNIVERSITY
On Tuesday, September 4, representatives from the Blacksburg office of Rackspace, the open cloud company, met with students, faculty and staff for classroom visits, a “Tech Talk” and job recruiting.
Three of the four full time “Rackers,” as Rackspace team members are known, were RU graduates: Alison Thomasson, Class of 2004, Steve Swenson, Class of 1997 and Alex Meade, Class of 2013. They were joined by Sam Wright, a current RU senior graduating in December, and Dave King, both of whom are also a part of the Rackspace team.
During their presentation, Steve and Alison touted some of the benefits of working at Rackspace including the “Rack gives back” program that encourages employees to participate in local charitable events. Rackspace frequently appears on national lists of “the best companies to work for,” most recently receiving recognition from Fortune Magazine and Business Insider.
For those who were more interested in an insider’s look at the way Rackspace operates, the team delivered a “Tech Talk” about problem solving and application launches within their company.
The visit concluded with a recruiting session for the company with current RU Information Technology students in Stuart Hall. Since most of the representatives present were Radford University alumni, the conversation was frequently familiar.
Joining the team for the event was Sam Wright, a senior who plans to graduate in December, who has been working with Rackspace for some time while completing his degree. Sam recalls “I had always heard Rackspace was the company to work for in the area in practically all my classes at Radford. I came to Rackspace through an information session held in Stuart Hall much like the one held on Wednesday, September 4.”
Following his introduction to Rackspace through the on-campus event, Sam submitted my resume and interviewed once or twice resulting in an internship for the summer. He adds “after that I was offered an extension of my internship through Mid-December to help finish up the project I was working on as well as full time employment to start in the fall.”
Steven Swenson, a 1997 RU graduate, also shared his thoughts about his time on campus and his opportunity with Rackspace. He was drawn to RU by its beautiful campus and modern computer facilities available to undergrads. "Back in '88 when I started, RU had a lab with about 25 SUN microcomputers for the CS majors to use” Steven recalls. “That kind of equipment wasn't even available for grad students at VA Tech at the time."
In addition to his CS major he also played in the concert band and worked with an all-digital 4-piece band. He later participated in a research project that built computer controlled home-automation into a handicap dorm room.
Following completion of his BA in Computer Science, Steven worked for Wachovia bank for ten years, then moved to Aceyus, a small software company based in Charlotte. In February of 2012 he started with Rackspace, a cloud hosting provider, working in their Blacksburg office. “Rackspace really fosters innovation at every level” states Steven. “You see that in their involvement with open-source software projects and public events like hackathons.”
Another RU alumnus from the College of Science and Technology, Alex Meade, completed his degree in May 2012 and has been with Rackspace for several years with roles ranging from an internship to a full-time position. He recalls that his first day on the job was a little crazy. “Rackspace doesn't do internships like the ones you see on TV or hear about in the financial industry. I was thrown right into the fire with the rest of the team solving real problems and writing code. I was treated just like everyone else on the team and only got up to speed by working closely with other members of the team to finish tasks. I actually felt like I was contributing on day one, which I think is really rare.”
Alex really appreciates his colleagues within the company. “My favorite thing about working at Rackspace really is the people I get to work with. Not only does it make it easier to have intelligent conversations and get things done, but when you are surrounded by lots of motivated individuals there are always things going on such as lectures and workshops to help cultivate new skills in the office.”
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