How big is the leap to non-profit corporate culture?

By Kimberly Ho, Project Coordinator, WestGrid

Having never worked for a not-for-profit organization before, I didn't know what to expect when I started at Cybera a month ago as a Project Coordinator for WestGrid. I was excited, and a little scared, as people normally are when starting in a new workplace.

When I walked through the doors, everyone was so welcoming and nice, but also very smart and driven. The corporate culture at Cybera is like a big family who are all very tech-passionate, like I am, and I just snuggly fit in.

There was no dull moment during my first few weeks, from designing material and updating the website, to getting to know all the current projects and services that WestGrid — and Cybera —€” offers. I found it very interesting that Cybera offers a peering service, which gives not-for-profit and academic institutions a direct connection through Cybera's network to popular websites like FacebookYoutube and Google. By directing to these popular websites through CyberaNet, the organizations can ensure quick speed of access and a lower Internet bill. A win-win situation!  

I was especially impressed with the work carried out at WestGrid. To give some background, WestGrid is part of Compute Canada, and its focus is on integrating high performance computing resources across the country. This pool of resources is available to academic research facilities across Canada, and can help with any computing jobs that they may have, whether it be for doing programming, graphics, chemistry, or genomics.

In my first week here, I was made a member of the organizing team for the BCNET & HPCS 2012 conference, which was held in Vancouver, BC, two weeks ago. I had never even been to a conference, let alone organize one, so this was a new experience for me! With only three weeks left before the conference, the WestGrid team didn't hesitate to 'throw' me into the lion's den, full on running. It was great!  I learned how each person functioned and communicated, and how we all work as a whole.

Once at the conference, I was tasked to work the registration desk and monitor some sessions. The first day was a little chaotic, with everyone wanting to register and collect their name badges at the same time, but once the rush was over, the work felt much more manageable.

For me, the best part of the entire conference was meeting face-to-face people with whom I'd had online correspondence with. Through video conferencing, I already knew what the WestGrid researchers and Cybera staff members in Edmonton looked like, but found they were much taller in real life! One such person, who gave me a chuckle, was John Shillington, Cybera's VP of Technology. I introduced myself to him early in the conference, but it was another two days before he realized that I was the same Kimberly Ho who works at Cybera. (He wasn't feeling well, so I blame it on that)

I look forward to being part of the next conference, either as a participant or an organizer. I should be a pro by then!