For Sachin Murthy, a product management intern at Illumio, the exploration phase of his summer internship is completed but his Illumio journey continues with a co-op this fall.
Read more about his experience at Illumio on the product management team, sharing insights from project management challenges to the culture that sets Illumio apart.
How did your perception of Illumio change throughout your internship?
My initial perception of Illumio was that since it is a market leader in microsegmentation, the work environment would be intense with little room for fun and networking activities. But my experience has been quite different.
While there were sprints where the pace and intensity felt like scenes straight out of the Silicon Valley TV show, it was balanced out by fun events throughout my internship. I got a taste of Illumio’s culture at the multiple socials, Happy Hours, and the Women in Cybersecurity event. There were also intern-specific activities and invaluable C-suite meetings that helped me feel a sense of community with my coworkers.
These experiences have not only reshaped my initial perception of Illumio but have also made me understand how a successful company can have both professional rigor with a supportive, inclusive, and fun culture.
The way I thought about work itself also changed. In the past, I often found myself working on tasks in solitude. I perceived that working efficiently often require isolation. While this was productive in some sense, it wasn’t fun. At Illumio, the best work happens when people work together, brainstorming approaches and developing ideas. Since my internship, I can only see myself in a workplace that encourages teamwork and collaboration.
A fun fact: There are no private offices at the Illumio HQ even for the C-level executives, and close to 40 meeting rooms. It is the most practical collaborative workplace design that I have experienced. It automatically encourages everyone to engage in discussions and collaborate on their work.
What’s a skill or practice you picked up that you’re excited to apply to after your Illumio experience? What’s next for you?
During my time at Illumio, I acquired several skills that I'm excited to use in the future:
I learned how to quantitatively study market research reports by analysts and gain insights into the industry trends and customer needs.
I developed proficiency in defining product requirements with data visualizations and design mocks that made product designers and developers quickly understand the requirements.
I delved into graph science, using graph data models and ML (machine learning) algorithms to develop visibility into lateral movement attack chains. This will help Illumio customers get information to define segmentation policies in Illumio products.
Beyond these technical skills, I learned a crucial skill that is often overlooked: the adaptability to learn quickly and apply my skills in data science and product management to any industry. This skill is something that I believe is going to help me in the long run as I look to future opportunities in data science and AI product management.
Is there a project that particularly challenged you? How did you overcome that challenge?
Transitioning into product management with no prior PM-specific experience was quite challenging. I’m truly grateful to Illumio for this transformative opportunity. In the beginning, while working on engineering initiatives, my engineering background often pulled me towards the "how" of problem solving rather than clearly defining "why" the problem should be solved. I soon realized that in product management, clearly defining the "why" behind each decision was paramount. And once I started focusing on the "why," it was quite challenging for me to get beyond answers like "the customer wants it."
To overcome this challenge, I proactively sought mentorship with my manager and buddy. I also had the opportunity to meet with other Illumio coworkers almost every day to talk about my challenges and receive feedback from his experiences in overcoming similar challenges.
Is there anything you learned from working with your fellow interns?
I got to work with some of the other interns both on work projects and during Illumio’s annual hackathon event. I learned time management, product documentation tips, problem solving, and above all, how to have a good time and enjoy work activities. I also enjoyed sharing lunch with them regularly and taking part in all the fun social events.
What was the best part about doing an in-person internship?
An in-person internship at Illumio had a lot of perks. As previously mentioned, there were several networking events, and the Illumio workplace design fostered collaboration and success. The 3-day in-person requirement set by Illumio struck a good balance for all the interns as most of us are relatively new to the workforce and any prior professional experiences were mostly remote work due to the pandemic.
Furthermore, Illumio’s office is paw-friendly, so we get to enjoy the presence of lovely dogs while we work, making life a little less stressful.
And the best perk of an in-person internship at Illumio is the food! Illumio offers the best food in Silicon Valley. Literally, every intern in their final presentation had a thank you slide filled with pictures of the food and various dogs they met during their program. That speaks volumes of how much we all loved the perks of an in-person internship.
Interested in joining the team as an Illumio intern? Recruitment for next summer’s internship program will begin in just a few weeks! Check out our Careers Page to learn more.