Before I started interning at Mozilla back in May 2010, I really didn’t know what to expect. How does a non-profit company with an open source product operate? After working at giant corporations like IBM and McAfee I couldn’t fathom what the experience would be like.
Although I’ve always been somewhat of a Firefox fanboy, I also had my worries. You may remember that at that time, Chrome had been out for a year or two and it was getting more and more difficult for me to justify using Firefox 3.x to my friends. Don’t get me wrong, Firefox 3 was a great browser for its time, but it was starting to look a little dull next to the competition. From an outside perspective, it almost seemed inevitable that Chrome would eventually win over even the most loyal of Firefox fans. Suffice to say, when I first joined, I was worried that Mozilla was a company on the decline. How wrong I was.
Mozilla is a very strange company. To a newcomer, it almost appears chaotic. People seem to work on whatever they want and accomplish their goals however they want. There often seems to be very little guidance from upper management. After trying to pin down exactly what makes Mozilla special, this is the best I could come up with. Mozilla is driven by the people who make up its community. There are no investors pulling the strings, the only reason why anything gets accomplished at all is because the people believe in what they are doing.
This was one of the first things I noticed about Mozilla: how passionate everyone was about their work. I had previously worked with people who were just there to pay the bills, and I had even worked with people who thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing. But I have never in my life seen such a large group of people who cared so passionately about what they were working on. I don’t think a single person in the entire company would say that they were there for the money. It is an attitude that is infectious as I too started to push myself to work hard, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
Being on the inside was kind of surreal. On one hand practically every second media outlet in the world was predicting Firefox’s doom and on the other I could see the determination and the amount of hard work that was going in to an increasingly cool product. I was there from the start of Firefox 4 and was then fortunate enough to be able to return for a second internship while Firefox 4 was launched. Just being a part of that journey was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’m still amazed at the level of dedication and hard work it took and how everyone stepped up and got the job done.
I’ve benefited immensely from my two terms at Mozilla. I’ve learned many new technologies, am much better at problem solving and designing, and perhaps most importantly I’ve become a lot better at communicating with the people I work with. It is for all these reasons and perhaps several hundred more that I’ve decided to return to Mozilla for a third internship in Toronto starting in September. I look forward to coming home.
Time to celebrate, cheers!