Intern Experience: Documentation at Vertica

Posted August 21, 2019 by Yashika Issrani, Summer 2019 Information Development Intern

My name is Yashika Issrani. I am currently a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing a dual degree in English and Psychology, as well as an IT minor. I also hold a certificate in Professional Writing and Technical Communication. I am grateful to have been a part of that program, as I came to know of this internship through a fellow PWTC alumna and Information Development Team Manager at Vertica, Deb Chatigny, who gave a talk in class about her experience.


I worked at Vertica as an Information Developer Intern. My main project was to write documentation for a new feature that Vertica was implementing – arrays. Without a technical background, besides my minimal experience with C++ in high school, I was intimidated at first glance of the documentation plan. I knew nothing about arrays besides their function. The way that Vertica was implementing arrays was that they would support reading arrays of primitive types from Parquet files via external tables. These were words that I could not parse at first.

Once my main project was near completion, I picked up other smaller projects, such as fixing some bugs.  I  also created a video to provide an overview of a newly developed commenting tool for internal use at Vertica, which allowed me to learn how to use video and audio production tools like Camtasia and Audacity.


My mentor explained that Vertica involves writers in the early stages of feature development instead of at the completion of the feature. I personally appreciate this structure as it allowed me to learn about the feature at the same pace that it was being developed. I especially valued the aspect of working in cross-functional teams. The nature of my project required me to interact with people beyond my team, including developers and QA. I consulted them when I encountered any technical issues and they were also key players when it came to revision of the doc.

The project was more technical and complex than I expected, or at least, what I am used to. It required me to step out of my comfort zone and delve into a highly technical concept. I performed tasks that I would never imagine doing, such as creating a schema, generating data and running queries.  I learned how to use the command line, bash, vim, Git, JIRA and even picked up some SQL! Moreover, I leave with more knowledge of the product and the implementation of arrays than I began with. This project provided me with valuable insight and exposure to the role of a technical writer in a tech company.

My internship was also unique in the sense that it was essentially a remote internship. I worked in the Cambridge office, but my mentor, Monica Cellio, was in the Pittsburgh, PA, Office. Nonetheless, my mentor was fantastic at making herself available through email or chat – what would we do without technology! She also visited the Cambridge office briefly, which enabled us to have highly productive work sessions. Most importantly, as someone who was highly technical, she was understanding, patient and a phenomenal guide in helping me navigate the documentation process at Vertica.

Two people on a video call

Remote meeting with mentor

Intern Interaction

I had the pleasure of meeting 11 other very talented interns in the Cambridge office. There was one other intern on the documentation team with me, while others were on the Machine Learning, Quality Assurance, Catalog and Security teams. It was really interesting getting to know them because everyone came from diverse backgrounds and attended different universities across the country. We always bonded over lunch and shared experiences from our respective countries and universities. Vertica also hosted many outings which allowed us to interact outside the office. Some of the outings we went on include hiking at Blue Hills Reservation, bowling at Flatbread Company and, my personal favorite, going to Kimball Farm, where we got participate in several activities such as playing mini golf and riding bumper boats.

Vertica Interns at Kimball's Farm

Vertica Interns at Kimball Farm

Intern Presentations

Towards the end of the internship, we had the opportunity to present our work to everyone in the company. We had two formats of presentations. We did a Lightning Talk first, where we gave a formal presentation in front of everyone for four minutes. At the Intern Fair, we set up our posters around the room in way where people could walk around and come up to us to have a more informal conversation about our projects. It also gave them more time to ask us questions and learn about our projects in detail. It was daunting to prepare for these presentations because unlike a school presentation where you present to your peers, we had present to industry professionals. Nonetheless, I was excited and proud to showcase what I had been working on all summer long. I was also utterly impressed by everyone’s projects.

Vertica employees and interns at the intern poster fair

Vertica employees and interns at the intern poster fair

Overall, this internship was a rewarding experience. The environment at Vertica is very stimulating, where there’s constantly something to learn. I especially loved attending the Chalk Talks that developers would host in order to provide a better overview of the product. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to intern at Vertica and the invaluable skills and knowledge this internship has imparted!