Every summer for the past ten years, the Red Hat Toronto office has hosted approximately 9-12 interns for 16-month terms. During the last 15 months, I have been a software engineering intern working on WildFly Elytron, a security framework that ships with Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. I hope to shed some light on the specifics of our internship program in Canada and perhaps steer you towards deciding whether a "red hat" would look good on you or someone you know!

Participating in a longer term than most internships can be quite daunting, but the main purpose behind this term is to allow interns the opportunity to work on real-world challenging problems and demonstrate ownership of their solutions from beginning to end. Notably, interns are also able to engage with the open source community and witness first-hand the impact of their solutions, as well as provide support moving forward.

How are engineering internships in Canada different?

Although the main difference is the 16-month term, which is longer than other internships which range from three to four months, I would argue the most distinguishing factor is that the longer term affords you plenty of time to become comfortable with your project and build your confidence as an individual contributor to Red Hat. 

As a result, I had the opportunity to reap the benefits of a more seasoned contributor such as partaking in discussions regarding the long and short term goals of our project, breaking ground on the design of new security practices, gaining recognition within the open source community, participating as a mentor in external conferences and developing a better understanding of Red Hat’s open source organization and strategic framework. 

I have no formal experience with the Red Hat portfolio - what can I expect? 

Interns are expected to be fully immersed as contributors in their respective projects. However, no previous experience in any of the Red Hat products is required. 

During the course of my internship I’ve been supported by a series of mentors: (i) A full-time engineer who oversees my progress and provides guidance throughout the whole term, (ii) the team’s previous intern (the "oldtern") who shares advice based on the experience they have gained over the past year, and (iii) a manager who fosters conversations targeted at career progress and development.

I also benefited from official mentorships such as the Red Hat Mentoring program and unofficial mentorships forged with my peers. Consequently, I had plenty of support available to ask technical and non-technical questions alike, as well as many resources which had been carefully drafted in preparation for my arrival. 

Red Hat has a wide array of products - which project will I work on? 

During the first week of our term, the other interns and I got to hear from various engineering teams, who prepared talks that included descriptions of their respective products, technology stack, communication practices, team distribution, etc. 

Towards the end of this week, we were asked to rank which team we wanted to work with. Each team welcomed one new intern (with a few exceptions). The intern committee goes to great lengths to see that interns are happy with their choice, but you can expect that whatever team you join will be challenging and a fantastic learning experience. 

What has been the most rewarding part of working at Red Hat?

Working on our technology, and with the passionate open source community that fuels it, has helped me grow immensely as a software engineer throughout my term. But what’s made all the difference is the Red Hatters’ commitment to mentor and uplift us.

I’ve also been able to witness Red Hat culture in action by participating in workshops with my manager, conversations about lessons learned in the industry with my mentor in Spain, discussions about women in technology with my team’s co-lead and conversations about ways to push forward diversity and inclusion. 

These experiences have been especially beneficial and inspiring, considering all of this happened whilst working remotely as a result of the global pandemic, at a time when creating connections with your peers is uniquely challenging. 


If all of this sounds like an exciting opportunity, chances are the Red Hat fedora might suit you. I encourage you to reach out to your University’s co-op office to verify eligibility with the program and Red Hat would love to hear from you!

About the author

Sonia Zaldana Calles joined Red Hat Toronto as a Software Engineering Intern in the WildFly Elytron team in 2020. She is also part of the first cohort of Lester B. Pearson International Scholars at the University of Toronto and is due to complete her degree in Computer Science in the summer of 2022. She is passionate about paving the way for inclusive spaces for underrepresented communities in the industry and empowering others to break the mold.

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