Ogheneovo “Ovo” Dibie has an eye for an iPod.
Last summer, the University of Maine junior majoring in computer science scored an internship with Apple, building the databases that help make the popular media player better.
At the National Society of Black Engineers job fair in Florida, Dibie made connections that led to interviews with Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Liberty Mutual and Morgan Stanley. Apple was his final interview — and perhaps the most intimidating.
“I was a bit scared. At first felt like I’m not good enough to go there. (I feared) that I’d be out of place or out of touch,” says Dibie, a native of Nigeria who transferred to UMaine in 2007 from a small school in New Mexico.
“There are a lot of smart people at Apple, but they’re just like everyone else. And after having technical discussions with them, I realized I’m not far behind.”
The internship included regular lectures by Apple executives and technical wizards, including Apple CEO Steve Jobs. When Dibie had the chance to meet him, he, too “was just like everyone else.”
“He eats lunch with everyone else in the cafeteria, he’s very friendly, very straightforward, very natural, very charismatic,” says Dibie, who specializes in database and Web development. “So are all the other executives at Apple.”
During his internship, Dibie created a database that tracks errors users encounter with iPod. The data are used by software developers to improve hardware or software.
He also worked on another Web-based project that graphically represents tests run on iPod software. With this representation, software developers can pinpoint errors and what each version accomplished.
A third project involved fine-tuning the wireless capabilities of the iPod touch. At the time, the devices interfered with each other when connecting to a wi-fi network. He carried out a series of controlled wi-fi tests that helped zero in on the source of the error.
Dibie admits he didn’t come into his internship knowing everything there is to know about MySQL, PHP, database building and software troubleshooting. But his experience at UMaine gave him one key skill.
“I was prepared to learn,” he says.
Beyond the technical aspects of the job, Dibie found the experience of working in a fast-paced corporate culture invaluable.
“If I want to get a job as a professional software developer, I now have a clear sense of what is expected of me. I need to be sharp. I need to know what to do and when to do it. I need to know how to communicate with my managers and colleagues. I also need to know the resources around me. People around me were always ready to help.”
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