Daniel Apostu on the intern experience at XWiki

13 Sep 2022 5 min read

Part of the XWiki internship program this summer through Stagii pe Bune, Daniel stood out from the beginning through his great attention to detail and his interest in writing clean code. He's also the guy that tells us stories from the Republic of Moldova, his homeland, and introduces us to new culinary delights (Cvas anyone?). His internship is soon coming to an end, and we thought we'd sit down and talk about how his experience in XWiki has been in the last three months.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm Daniel Apostu (20 years old), a software development intern in XWiki, in the Paid Apps squad for the 2022 Summer internship, and currently starting the third year of my bachelor's degree in Computer Science at "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University, in Iași. In my free time, I enjoy reading books, and manga, watching anime, and working out, and I also used to play a lot of handball.

in 5 things
  • Favorite artist: Tatsuki Fujimoto
  • Best book ever read: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  • Dream destination: Japan and South Korea — planning a trip there with my sister in the future.
  • Quote you live by: "You see the world not as it is but as you are."
  • At the office or remote? Office for productivity, remote to sleep more.

The internship experience

How did you find out about XWiki and what made you choose it for an internship?

I found out about XWiki through the Romanian internship program Stagii pe Bune. I initially applied for the internship because I was studying the Java programming language at University, so I wanted to learn more and see how it compares to C#. I chose the internship at XWiki because I received a good offer, and had a good interview experience, which made me feel like I'll enjoy working with the team.  

What was your internship experience like?

Through my internship at XWiki, I got to have my first experience working in a software company. I worked remotely most of the time, but I also got to meet a lot of our colleagues and experience the office environment thanks to a visit from 3 colleagues from the Paris Office.

I appreciate that XWiki has more of a flat structure than a hierarchical one, and it was easy to talk with any of my seniors at any given time.

After the onboarding, I had my own project, a macro, that I worked on for the entire duration of the internship, with its ups and downs, but I had my mentor to help me whenever I encountered an issue. If my internship experience could be somewhat improved, I would have liked to work with more people, as I didn't get to improve my teamwork much, since I worked on the macro with just my mentor.

What did you find to be the most interesting and challenging tasks?

The most interesting and challenging tasks for me were the ones where I had to use concepts outside of XWiki and implement them. The macro I was assigned, needed to be able to create its own docker container, so I studied for some time what Docker is and how it's used. I needed to be able to cache the results rendered by the macro, so I learned more about caching and how to use the cache in XWiki. There was also a lot to learn about how the configuration for an application should be executed, and how it can be done in XWiki. Also, the more in-depth discussions with my mentor made me think more about how I design an application's architecture. Finding the information I needed proved to be a challenge a lot of the time. But I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read a lot of code from the XWiki platform and contributors during my internship because reading code is a useful skill to train.

And what about integration into the environment? How easy, or difficult was it for you?

At first, I found it quite difficult, as I was the only Intern for the summer. I also had to proceed through the onboarding remotely, on top of having some technical issues in the first few days. But these matters were quickly resolved. Also, having the opportunity to talk with my younger colleagues on the Paid Apps team (Lavinia and Teodor), who could understand my current experiences and with whom I could relate since we had a similar background, helped me enjoy my time in the company more. I'm sad that I am not able to participate in the XWiki Seminar 2022 since there are a lot of colleagues I haven't met yet.

Daniel with the international team enjoying a delicious company outing in Iași.

Open Source impressions

Was Open Source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

I have heard of the concept of Open Source in the past but had no interest in looking more into it (even though I used a lot of Open Source software as a developer) until I joined XWiki.

During the visit of Ludovic, the founder of the company, to the Iași office, he talked to me a lot about what XWiki product is, why it's Open Source, why having Open Source software is a great contribution to the developer's community, and how Open Source helps in knowledge transfer. This made me more interested in the concept and helped me discover how much I depend on Open Source products and how I could contribute to them.

What's the Open Source value you identify with the most?

I identify the most with the Open Source value of Transparency. Just the fact that your work can be seen by everyone, makes you write code in a better, more readable way while respecting best practices. Even if you don't write code in this manner, you can receive feedback and change things, which makes for a great learning opportunity. Because of transparency, code is written more efficiently at a global scale, and we can avoid code replication since you don't need to write anything that has already been written.

As a developer, I am glad that I can read what people with more experience have written, learn at a faster pace, and become more independent, as I won't need someone to guide me through everything I want to learn.

Lessons learned

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at XWiki, so far?

Discipline is key! XWiki is a very free environment, devoid of micro-management, and this made me learn that if I want to be more productive and learn more, I need to be proactive and be capable of creating for myself an environment where I work the best, even when working remotely. I learned that controlling myself is key, and I should prioritize my tasks daily.

The XWiki experience in one word

Finally, if you had to describe your XWiki experience in one word, what would it be?

Freedom. Before I started, since this was my first job, I wondered a lot about how will I manage to work inside a software company.

But the freedom offered by XWiki made me realize that I shouldn't be scared of what I do, and it is up to me to decide how I work and learn, so I should enjoy every moment.

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