Big Interns For Big Data

“[My wife] won’t let me talk about work anymore.” — Intern overheard talking at lunch

Quotes can be forged, but casual lunchtime conversation tends to be very candid. Indeed, it’s the indirect signals that mean to the most to me as I coordinate the intern program for the second year.

Another intern expressed delighted surprise at how well the interns are integrated into our teams. I take serious pride in this trait of the Vertica Summer Intern Program, as we ensure our interns each have at least one personal mentor and project that matters to us and to them. With eight interns this year, we have them doing everything from releasing features to customers and researching ways to improve performance to analyzing Vertica usage patterns and improving our testing framework. Our interns represented some geographic diversity, hailing from MIT, UVa, UMass Amherst, University of Houston, Brown and Purdue. The program has doubled and with good reason – in the last six months, two of our interns from 2011 have started full-time, as did a fellow co-intern of mine from back in 2009.

We encourage our interns to work their 40 hours and then enjoy Boston. Still, during the week-long Intern User-Defined-Function Contest, one of the eventual winners told me at 10 PM he wanted to skip school and come work at Vertica, while another pair of interns extended their internships. Though all will be returning to school in the fall, I’m thrilled that we can inspire the interns this deeply and grateful to all my coworkers who helped choose them from the candidate pool.

Vertica intern party

Annual intern party at Shilpa's, complete with (brand new) traditions of single-ski water skiing and watermelon carving. Photos taken by Ramachandra CN

But it’s not all work at Vertica. Along with individual lunches with Vertica’s top-brass, we managed hiking trips, poker nights (intern-organized!), creative four-player bocce matches, horse riding, and water skiing. Trust Vertica interns to even take the weekly Counter Strike game and turn it into a data-collection event, loading in-game kill locations into a Vertica database. I leave you with a level heatmap produced by our interns’ very own Vertica User-Defined-Function.

Heat Map

Here we see the deadliest locations of the Counter Strike map Italy. Though the concentration of carnage while attempting to rescue the hostages in the upper left is unsurprising, we can also understand how dangerous each of the access paths to the hostages are. For the same contest, the other interns created an AVRO parser, a JSON parser, and an automatic email-sending function for their contest entries. Heat map from Mark Fay and Matt Fay

We’ll be keeping in touch with this year’s crop of interns as they finish here and return to their respective academic programs. Many people have helped with the intern program this year, but I feel Adam Seering deserves special mention for all his work in making this summer a success. I also appreciate the support our coworkers have given the intern program from 1-on-1 help to attending the intern presentations in numbers.

Thank you Vertica 2012 interns for all your hard work this summer. You have no idea how much positive feedback I’ve heard about you all!

Our interns ending a successful summer by riding off into the sunset. Literally.

Our interns ending a successful summer by riding off into the sunset. Literally. Photo taken by Ramachandra CN.

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