On Both Sides of the Internship

Author: Lyric Doshi

Three cheers for Vertica Summer Interns 2011!

As summer comes to an end, we bid goodbye to yet another amazing crop of summer interns. This years interns Hieu, Zhongliang, Ruchika and Zhijie were MS/PhD students from different schools along the east coast.  They worked on projects to extend the Vertica SDK, enhance Hadoop/Pig connectivity, and create internal developer productivity tools.  We plan to incorporate much of this work into a future major release of Vertica. In fact, there was so much excitement surrounding their work that in addition to the traditional presentation to engineering, they were asked to present to the entire company after having lunch with Vertica VP&GM Chris Lynch.

Once a picky an intern at other companies (and a very happy one at Vertica, why else would I have come back?), I had the opportunity this year to run our internship program, beginning with coordinating interviews for nearly 40 candidates down to a 4 solid interns. That was over 3 months ago. In the past few days, I took some time to speak with each intern to hear about their experience and I was happy to hear some of my own words to my mentors at Vertica from 2 years ago being reiterated.

Zhongliang gained experience working on a full Java project for first time and told me he felt his coding improved dramatically thanks to feedback from his mentor Matt.

Ruchika told me how her project made some of her friends jealous because she was never bored at work. She appreciated how everyone here dropped their work to help her out when she had questions. She singled out the unwavering patience of her mentor Ben in answering her questions. Having appreciated the same time and time again, I responded, “Been there, done that.”

Hieu highlighted how much fun he had in addition to his project, partaking in our Ping Pong tournament, joining the weekly pick-up basketball, learning the art of sword-play, destroying us in Starcraft, and attending cook-outs hosted by co-workers. He even laughed himself through an unforgettable first experience with water sports (hint: it involved an inner tube, some soccer shorts, and a motorboat) at our annual interns party.

Zhijie was very happy to work on a project that, while sufficiently separated that he did not worry about causing trouble, was in the release plan. Whenever he got frustrated with coding issues, he looked at customer feature requests page to see all the demands for what he was working on and found real inspiration that he was making a difference.

Repeatedly pressing each for complaints in the spirit of constructive criticism, major or minor, I finally forced something out of the Zhijie “The office was a little hot when the AC broke.” Surely a sign of a successful summer?

But it’s not just the interns that got something out of the internship program. Our program is run entirely by engineering and both I and the four dedicated intern mentors gained experience managing projects, goals and expectations. We’ve adapted our program over the years, trying both team and individual projects focussed on everything from tools and demos to server-side changes. This year, we even sat our interns in desks near their respective mentors this year for a proper full-timer experience and even higher mentor accessibility.

A big thank you to all of our interns for your hard work and commitment. We’ll miss having you around but wish you the best for the coming school year and hope to see you again soon!

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