The MongoDB Summer ‘18 Intern Series: Building Global Influence
Stef Wang is a MongoDB Summer ‘18 international intern. Originally from Taiwan, Stef had never visited the U.S. before deciding to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently a rising senior pursuing a major in computer and cognitive science and a minor in consumer psychology.
As an advocate for women in STEM, she is passionate about working to help change the underrepresentation of women in tech. During her internship, Stef took some time away to attend the Global Leadership Organization annual conference in Taiwan, which is dedicated to teaching leadership curriculum to empower youth to engage in social impact work.
Andrea Dooley: What made you want to come to the US, despite the fact you had never been there prior?
Stef Wang: I always knew I wanted to go abroad for university. The school I attended in Taiwan was tailored for students to obtain their degree either in the US or the UK, and I applied to over 20 schools in both regions. I was particularly interested in UPenn because of their Science Technology and Society program, which explores the impact of technology on society.
AD: Since that is a social science, how did you wind up majoring in computer science?
SW: I worked on CS in high school. When I went to college I found that women are underrepresented in STEM, and I wanted to challenge that. I found computer science to be very interesting and figured the best way to challenge the underrepresentation was for me to represent. It’s an issue I care about and I wanted to be able to encourage women to pursue CS as their major and stick to it.
AD: Was there a particular experience that made you this passionate about encouraging women into the CS field?
SW: I previously interned at a very big technology company, and the lack of female representation impacted me. It was in Taiwan, so the office was smaller in general, but out of 70+ engineers, three were female. I didn’t feel it was an optimal work environment because of subconscious judgements and assumptions. It’s very different than what my experience has been like at MongoDB. There are women in this [NYC] office in high positions such as engineering team leads, and a lot of women in engineering. It’s something I really appreciate.
AD: How does your passion to help bring change align to the conference you attended in Taiwan?
SW: I’ve been involved in the Global Leadership Organization since junior high school, and the conference is hosted regularly in both the US and Taiwan. GLO’s mission is to empower people with the leadership skills they need to bring about the changes they want to see in the world. I’m in charge of overseeing GLO operations in Asia, and help to teach the curriculum that Teddy Liaw developed, which helps to inspire people to become change agents. It’s empowered me to believe I can make a change. One day I’d like to create a nonprofit for women in STEM.
AD: How did you first learn about MongoDB?
SW: MongoDB often attends PennApps, which are hackathons hosted every semester, so I had the opportunity to speak to a few people and learn more about the company. A current intern referred me to the internship program while he was going through the process. What appealed to me most was the interview process and how different it was from any other process I had gone through before.
AD: How was the process different from what you’ve experienced before?
SW: My recruiter got to know me as a person, instead of just focusing on what was on my resume. She was also more technical than any other recruiter I had worked with, so I was able to thoroughly explain my background. I felt like it was less about attempting to confirm what I had on my resume, but instead understanding what I was passionate about and what I was looking to get out of the experience.
AD: What are you working on this summer?
SW: I’m working on the Cloud team, working on two projects: optimizing upgrades and downgrades for anyone who is using MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure, and also implementing Atlas support for encryption at rest with multiple cloud providers, which would allow customers to manage data encryption using Azure Key Value and Google Cloud KMS credentials. Atlas is a core MongoDB product, and really important to the overall company mission. I’ve really learned a lot over the course of the summer. In the beginning, there was a very steep learning curve, and a huge code base that we had to look through in order to complete a lot of our initial tickets, but after a few weeks our workflow became a lot more efficient.
AD: What’s it like to work on a product that directly impacts business success?
SW: The Atlas team is super fun. It’s really exciting to hear people be so enthusiastic about their work and have so much passion about what they do on a day to day basis, be willing to talk about what they’re working on, and be open to your opinions. It’s also great to see that the work we are doing is directly impacting our customers and the work they are doing. They don’t have to worry about maintaining a database and the underlying infrastructure needed to support it and instead can spend more time and energy focusing on work that matters to them. As an intern I’m able to help people do more with their data, and ultimately achieve their mission. Since we work in sprints, some of the features we've worked on have already been released and are currently being used by our customers. I appreciate that we get to be a part of how things happen. There’s a lot of collaboration but I’m also able to say, “I owned this.”
AD: What has your overall experience been like as a MongoDB intern this summer?
SW: My mentor has been an amazing manager, which was surprising to me but in a good way. His sole responsibility is to mentor the Atlas Intern team, which consists of me and two other interns. In the past, I found it frustrating if a mentor was working on something different, since I was more hesitant to ask questions in fear I would distract them from more important work. Here, my mentor is working on what I’m working on and always reiterates that I should be asking questions. It has helped me become a better coder and produce better work. I also appreciate how much emphasis MongoDB puts on feedback, both giving and receiving. It helps create a culture where everyone is always striving to be better.
The MongoDB Summer ‘18 Intern Series: From Hackathon to Haskell
Mihai Andrei is going into his senior year at Rutgers University, the alma mater of MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria. While Dev received his BS in Electrical Engineering, Mihai is studying Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics. Mihai is also extremely involved in HackRU, a 24 hour student run hackathon at Rutgers.
Andrea Dooley: Hackathons are very popular amongst CS students. What roles have you played for Rutgers HackRU?
Mihai Andrei: If you are an organizer you’re not able to participate in the event, but this coming year I will be one of two Executive Directors, essentially overseeing the entire thing. In the past I have played the part of Director of Finance for the event, so I know this will be a particularly challenging role, but nonetheless an exciting one.
AD: You’ve been involved with HackRU for quite a while. Is that where you first learned about MongoDB?
MA: I actually learned about MongoDB during a student demo at a tech talk on campus. The first time I ever used MongoDB was at a previous internship for a data warehouse application we were developing. I was looking online for internship opportunities in the software industry and came across an opening for the MongoDB internship program.
AD: What made you interested in interning at MongoDB?
MA: My previous experience interning has mostly been with financial institutions, so this time around I wanted to take a different route to a company with more emphasis on tech and tech culture. I was able to get a good sense of the culture during the recruiting process, so I was really excited when I got the offer.
AD: Did you know our CEO was a Rutgers alum?
MA: I learned that Dev attended Rutgers a bit later on, but I think it’s really cool that someone from my university became the CEO of such an awesome company.
AD: What MongoDB Eng team are you on, and what projects were you responsible for this summer?
MA: I’m on the query team working on the MQL model, which is a model implementation of the query language built from scratch, serving as a reference. The reason for creating it from scratch is to identify flaws and iron out changes for future implementations, and the model can be a point of reference for how we create future versions of the query language. There are some flaws in the current version of the language that need sorting out for future iterations.
AD: What were some of the flaws present in the query language?
MA: An example of a flaw in the query language is the difference between find and aggregation projection. They are ambiguous and one will allow you do things the other doesn’t. For example, in aggregation you are able to use nested documents to specify how to project your output. That is not possible in find, but in find you have special operators to customize an output for arrays such as $elemMatch that you can’t use in aggregation projection. The ultimate goal is to unify the semantics.
AD: Did you have any previous experience working to improve a programming language, or did you find there was a learning curve?
MA: I took a programming languages class last year so I was able to learn about what goes into creating a programming language. I spent my first few weeks at MongoDB learning Haskell. I had to sit down with other team members to go through the code base and get ramped up. It’s been very rewarding from an educational and experience standpoint.
AD: What would you say is one key takeaway from your experience at MongoDB this summer?
MA: Beyond learning a new programming language and what goes into writing the MongoDB query language, what I wanted to get out of my summer internship was to learn how to develop software more collaboratively. MongoDB has a code review process, so you’re given a ticket but just completing the ticket is not enough. You have to run it by other members of the team to ensure it meets expectations. There’s been really great quality control feedback from the team.
AD: How has the level of feedback helped to benefit you as an engineer early in your career?
MA: Every week I sit down with my mentor for a thirty minute one on one to discuss how things are going. The continuous feedback has been very helpful because it helped me to improve the quality of the comments I left in my code. It was easy for me to understand what I did and how I did it, but I learned that you need to be very thorough in order for other people to understand as well.
AD: What would you say to someone considering an internship opportunity at MongoDB?
MA: I would absolutely recommend it. It’s a great environment to intern in, and I have really been able to grow my skills. The work is very challenging, but very rewarding, and I understand exactly how my project is going to impact the work my mentor and other members of the query team will continue doing after I leave.
The MongoDB Summer ‘18 Intern Series: Driving Connections from Work to Life
Nathan Louie is a MongoDB summer intern on our Server Replication team. He’s a computer science major and sociology minor at the University of Michigan, finishing up his senior year this fall. During his time at school, he’s developed a passion for problem solving within distributed systems and working on lower level projects.
Andrea Dooley: Since your interest lies primarily on the lower levels of the stack, how did you first learn about MongoDB?
Nathan Louie: I first heard about MongoDB at a hackathon as a tool to build apps quickly. But the first time I actually used it was right before my interview. I made an application with MongoDB Stitch, and was impressed with how easy my backend was to set up and interact with.
AD: Since this is your fifth internship, how does it differ from your previous experiences, and what piqued your interest to apply?
NL: My previous internships have been higher up the tech stack. I’ve taken a lot of systems courses in school, and wanted industry experience on the kinds of projects I’ve encountered academically. I looked through the MongoDB code base, and realized it was the type of system I wanted experience in. Finally, when considering the company itself, MongoDB has a high-growth culture with a focused mission and is working on the problems that I’m looking to solve.
AD: How has the project you’re working on this summer provided you with the technical problem solving experience you were looking for?
NL: My primary project this summer is adding diagnostics support for multi-document transactions, which was a feature added in the 4.0 release. It’s a way for people to measure the performance of their transactions, such as total duration and the number of succeeded and failed transactions. Building out diagnostics has helped me understand how our replication and transactions system work. I attended some sessions at this past MongoDB World, and the audience asked about this feature. Sometimes when you’re working deep in the stack, you can feel disconnected from the end users, but the fact that people were waiting for it to become available helped me understand the outcome of my work.
AD: How have you found the overall dynamic of the server team?
NL: In my opinion, the defining thing about MongoDB is how engineering-centric the company is. For instance, I find it really interesting how involved management is with the actual code. My tech leads are very familiar with the architecture, and can hop right into the code base because they wrote a lot of it. It has been extremely valuable for me as an intern because I’m able to learn from people at all levels, and it has also exposed me to an alternative way of managing engineering teams. This experience has helped me visualize a career path where I can remain technical, and not have to sacrifice my passion for deep problem solving while leading a team.
AD: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
NL: The most interesting thing I’ve realized at my time here is the impact my work has on the world. MongoDB is not an immediately recognizable consumer brand, and the types of people who know it well are usually developers and engineers. However, consumers are using MongoDB all the time, likely without realizing it. Whether it’s applied towards compliance software, cryptocurrency, or popular games like Fortnite, the work that I do effects so many different industries, projects, and people across the world. I think it’s very powerful to be able to drive the connection from my work to my everyday life.
AD: What would you say has been the most impactful aspect of your internship experience at MongoDB?
NL: The open source aspect: being able to commit my code and have it be out there for everyone to see. I can log into any computer and show people the work I’m doing and having that level of transparency still blows my mind. Most times, company code is secret, and you can’t just take the code you write and go anywhere. Here, once the code you write gets approved, it immediately gets pushed out for anyone to see. I find it liberating to talk to friends about what I’m working on and have the ability to pull it up and walk through my decision making. It definitely gives me a sense of pride and builds trust in the product.
The MongoDB Summer ‘18 Intern Series: Communication is Key
Remi Lederman is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s a communications major with a minor in art history, the managing editor of UPenn’s culture magazine, and a 2018 Summer Intern for the MongoDB communications team.
As one of four marketing interns among a class of 62 comprised of mostly engineers, Remi has an interesting take on what it’s like to work on the less technical side of the business.
Andrea Dooley: The internship program at MongoDB is pretty popular among computer science undergrads. As a comms major, how did you first learn about MongoDB and the internship opportunity?
Remi Lederman: UPenn has a big engineering school and MongoDB is very well known; there’s a lot of t-shirts on campus. A lot of my friends are engineers, so I knew the company, but didn’t really know exactly what it did. I went to a career fair where I was able to meet the campus team, and found the opportunity to be really interesting.
AD: Why did you want to intern at MongoDB this summer?
RL: After the career fair I kept up with the company and knew it was growing fast and that it was a really exciting time. I had an idea of the workplace culture by talking to previous interns, and had interned at a tech company the summer before, so I was looking for a similar kind of environment. I knew I wanted to do something in communications, and I felt the opportunity at MongoDB would be the perfect fit. The application process was seamless and the campus team kept me really informed. There was a lot of communication, I never felt out of the loop, and the overall process was very professional and organized.
AD: As someone not very familiar with computer science, was it difficult to learn MongoDB technology?
RL: While someone who is not very tech savvy may have a general idea of the database functionality, it’s hard to have a deep understanding of the technology. As an intern, we went through training in our first week that provided insight into what MongoDB is, how it fits into the stack, how we compare others in the industry, and our overall value proposition. For the role I’m in, it’s important to understand the different product offerings and features, what it means to be on version 4.0 versus version 3.6 for example, and what’s important to our customers and community. It’s different than what you would need to know or how you would view the database from an engineering standpoint.
AD: What’s it like to work with mostly engineers?
RL: The company is so social and everyone's so nice, it’s not hard to hang out together, even though our jobs are so different. It’s also really nice to have a big intern class. There's 62 of us, so it’s fun to attend all the events the campus team puts on for the interns and get to know each other.
AD: If you’re not working with the technology, what sorts of project do you get to work on?
RL: I get new things to work on every day. For example, had a chance to take a first stab at the press release for MongoDB University reaching 1 million registrations, which was exciting. I’ve also helped create briefing books for customers and executives, which are prep guides for when they go into an interview or are giving a talk. It helps prepare them for what to expect in terms of talking points, background information, and questions that may be asked. I love that I get to help out on many visible things the team is working on. So when I see our CEO on CNBC, or our customers at MongoDB World using the stuff I helped to prepare, it’s really rewarding.
AD: I know the engineering interns get to identify their preferred teams and projects. Did you have input in determining what you would work on this summer?
RL: I’m valued for my writing skills, so I get to write a lot and do a lot of editing. My mentor really pushed me to come up with my own projects, and creativity is really fostered here. In the beginning of the summer I was encouraged to outline goals for the internship. At some point during the summer I had the opportunity to attend a Crisis PR webinar. Like most companies, I knew that we had some form of a crisis plan in place that plan outlines what we do, the chain of command, and who is the designated team, but I wanted to put more detail into it, like creating templates for responses. My hope is that I leave at the end of my internship having given something tangible and impactful back to the company.
AD: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
RL: Preparing for all possible outcomes. In school we would analyze the scenario after it occurred, but here we want to get ahead of things. I’ve learned to do that by over communicating as opposed to under communicating.
AD: What would you say to other marketing/comms interns interested in MongoDB?
RL: A lot of companies have similar roles to what I am doing here, so when choosing where to intern for the summer I looked at other factors to differentiate each opportunity. For me, working at a company like MongoDB is ideal because it’s an exciting environment. I’m invested in MongoDB because what I’m doing has a real impact, which in turn that has made an impact on me. I truly feel like a part of the company. I’m very impressed with everyone and everything at MongoDB, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.
Employees Recognized for Work Outside of MongoDB
An organization's success can often be attributed to its people, because it’s people who dedicate their time to helping a company achieve goals and be recognized as an industry leader. We find it’s even more of an achievement when our people are recognized for the work they do outside of MongoDB.
Two passionate members of the MongoDB Engineering organization were acknowledged by separate notable organizations for their independent work.
Dr. Michael Cahill is the Vice President of Engineering (Storage). Based out of our Sydney office, Michael leads the global Storage team which is responsible for concurrency control and crash recovery. Optimizations in the storage layer can have a huge impact on making customer workloads more efficient.
Michael was recently recognized as a winner of the Test of Time Award at the annual SIGMOD conference for his work on a new algorithm for implementing serializable isolation. SIGMOD is the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Management of Data, which specializes in large-scale data management problems and databases. The conference is considered one of the most important database conferences in the world. Researchers and engineers working on database technology come together to present their work, and new innovations are often published first at SIGMOD.
“Serializable Isolation is the gold standard for databases: it means that applications using the database can reason as if transactions run one at a time. There is never any interference between concurrent transactions and each transaction takes the database from one consistent state to another. My contribution was to use database internals, including hooks in code for multi-version reads and an extension of intent locks, to detect potential anomalies at runtime and make executions safe regardless of the application logic.
“I’m both proud and humbled to receive the Test of Time Award this year. While I’m proud of the work we did and the impact it has had, I am humbled to see my name listed beside some of the greats of the field who blazed the trail before me.”
The main implication of Michael’s work is that there is now a way to build databases that provide serializable isolation with only a modest change to existing systems.
A. Jesse Jiryu Davis is a staff engineer at MongoDB on the Drivers Team. He leads development on the C and C++ drivers and is the author and maintainer of Motor, an async Python driver. He also pitches in on PyMongo development and oversees the design and specifications process for a lot of new MongoDB driver features. He spends time mentoring new coders and speaking at conferences.
Jesse is a member of the Python Software Foundation, which manages the Python language and the community of Python programmers, and sponsors dozens of Python conferences.
“When I joined about 7 years ago their main mission was to promote the use of Python, and they won: Python is perhaps the most popular language. Now I see the PSF devoting much more effort to expanding computer science access to poor countries and marginalized groups, using Python as a vehicle. For example, the most recent PSF grants were to girls' education events in Brazil and Cameroon.”
Jesse was recognized by the Python Software Foundation for his community service work, including his work on their blog, and his involvement with the NYC conference PyGotham.
“I was awarded for two responsibilities I've really enjoyed. My work on the PSF blog gives me an excuse to interview some of the smartest and most accomplished people I know. The second part of the award, for my work on the PyGotham conference, was mainly in recognition of my speaker-coaching program: I thought it would be helpful for first-time speakers to have professional coaching, so I raised enough money to hire my own speaking coach to spend an hour with each of them. This year we're repeating that program for PyGotham speakers and expanding it to the PyOhio conference, too. Speaking at conferences transformed my career, and I want to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity I did to learn public speaking, particularly members of groups underrepresented in tech.”
We could not be more proud of both Michael and Jesse for their recognitions. It is a true testament to the level of talent at MongoDB, and the passion of the people behind the product.
To learn more about MongoDB people and culture, click here.
The MongoDB Summer ‘18 Intern Series: Back to Back
Haley Connelly is a 5th year Computer Science Major at UT Austin, and a two time MongoDB Summer Intern.
Haley first joined MongoDB during the summer of 2017 as a rising senior. She has made her return to MongoDB for Summer 2018, as she works on her thesis in computational neuroscience. In her short time here, Haley has been able to make a giant impact, including being part of the team that helped build the storage engine used in the MongoDB Mobile product, which was released at MongoDB World 2018.
Andrea Dooley: How did you first learn about MongoDB?
Haley Connelly: I actually interviewed with MongoDB before I really knew what the company did. That year, instead of taking a summer internship I did a 6 month co-op, which is essentially a full time role, in the spring. My mentor had great things to say about the MongoDB Query Language (MQL), and even wrote a wrapper around an existing ORM to mimic MongoDB-like query capabilities. After I learned how useful MongoDB could be, and once I figured out I wanted to be a Systems Engineer, I re-interviewed with the company, which was really exciting.
AD: Can you provide insight to your first summer at MongoDB?
HC: I worked on the Storage Team, and helped engineer the mobile storage engine. I was part of the team took the design and architecture from the ground up. It was really exciting because MongoDB Mobile was announced at MongoDB World 2018, and the storage engine is now in beta. We tried to build as much functionality as possible during that summer, and it was great to see a lot of it made it into the final code.
AD: That’s a huge accomplishment! Did you know that was going to happen?
HC: At the end of the summer, all interns are required to give a presentation on their work from the summer. My partner and I received a lot of positive feedback from our presentation. We got the storage engine functionally working as a prototype, and it worked so well that another intern was actually able to use it. When i came back this summer my old mentor let me know that MongoDB Mobile was about to be released to beta testers.
AD: What are you working on this summer?
HC: This summer I’m working on the Query team, and am using Haskell, which is a functional programming language to help model the semantics of the MongoDB Query Language. The model is intended to help further optimize behavior for future versions of MQL.
AD: What made you want to come back to MongoDB for another internship?
HC: I’ll admit I was always against doing two internships at the same company. I thought it was best to try things out in order to know what you like and what you don’t like. But I figured out what I wanted in a company, and I found that in MongoDB.
AD: What in particular were you looking for in a company?
HC: MongoDB has the name recognition and is well respected in the developer community, alongside a great company culture. It’s also the perfect size company in that it’s not so large that your work seems like it doesn’t make a contribution. We are constantly promoting people to take risks and be intellectually honest, and that really shines when working with people day to day.
AD: What about the internship program itself?
HC: The fact that we get to choose what we want to work on is so awesome to me. I knew there were other teams I wanted to try out, and I knew wherever I wound up I would be able to make a genuine contribution.
AD: It sounds like you’ve gotten a lot out of your internship here. What advice would you give to someone who might be interested in interning at MongoDB?
HC: You get to work on things that matter. I’m very interested in lower level, technical work, which is hard to find as an intern. But MongoDB has provided me with the opportunity to do some real problem solving and figure things out strategically. Here you get to figure out the problems and work towards a solution, and in my opinion that’s really valuable.
MongoDB Hosts the First Annual Women in Computer Science Summit in NYC
On April 20th MongoDB NYC hosted fifteen incredible college students from schools across the country for our first ever Women in Computer Science Summit.
The full day event, which was organized and hosted by the MongoDB Campus Recruiting Team, included a packed agenda with technical learning sessions, application building, mock interviews, and a panel discussion with MongoDB engineers. The summit offered an opportunity for young women from different colleges and universities a chance to connect, learn from one another, and support each other down the line.
Smitha Nagar, a UT Austin sophomore and Computer Science major, found value in being able to meet her peers. "Everything is a lot more fun when you’re surrounded by badass women. Everyone was intelligent, friendly, and wanted to learn and wanted to support each other, which is what made it so amazing. It was a great way to make new friends with similar interests. It was very refreshing.”
The panel discussion with three MongoDB engineers helped to demonstrate how the attendees can grow their careers at companies like MongoDB, as well as help to better the future of the tech industry for women overall.
For Washington State University sophomore Jessica Zhou, “It’s inspiring to not only be able to look up to women engineers thriving and doing a lot of cutting edge work, but also to meet and share these experiences with other women in computer science from schools all over the country. It was easy to relate with other people there, and it was cool to be in a room of female CS students during the technical talk and workshop on databases. For me, it’s something very rare in the classroom. I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to go to grad school for research or right into industry, and what I learned from the panel is that you can still read and discuss papers, have that spirit of inquiry and innovation you find in academia while in an industry setting. I see Computer Science as an interesting academic subject but also a means of building cool things and delivering tangible change.”
Brown University sophomore Cece Xiao “really enjoyed the event. The overall structure was very well organized, and there was not a moment where I felt disengaged. The pace at this summit allowed for me to get to know MongoDB more intimately, and being onsite allowed for a more hands on real life experience. It gave me a personal view of MongoDB as a company, and to better understand the culture and what it’s really about. I never really understood the magnitude of one line of code, but with so many customers using MongoDB, I find it fascinating the lengths it can go. ”
The day also included mock interviews for attendees to highlight their skills in an environment that was conducive to learning and growth. Each attendee was paired up with an engineer with previous interview experience and was given honest, transparent advice on how to strengthen their skills when it comes to communicating and conveying information. For Smitha, this was a highlight: “it really blew me away. The mock interview was so helpful and a really good learning experience. It wasn’t stressful and I was able to receive really good feedback. I was given specific advice that I had not heard before that I can apply to not only future interviews, but also to future presentations or interactions with a team.”
For us, the event was a great way to meet young engineers, inspire them to continue working towards their goals, encourage them to stick to their passions, and provide them with information necessary for success. The ability to give advice from personal experience, provide support, and connect the next generation of female technologists is what will allow technology to not only move forward, but also expand its potential.
If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities at MongoDB, click here.
Internal Mobility: Changing Roles, not Companies
What’s the first thing you would do if you started to feel a lack of fulfillment or challenge in your current role? You might begin investigating opportunities at other companies. Perhaps you’d start researching your current organization’s competitors, or the company your colleague left for last quarter, or change your LinkedIn status so recruiters know you’re willing to having a discussion.
Why do employers let their best talent get to the point where they enter the rabbit hole of potential opportunity, instead of finding a way to retain them?
Internal mobility, or the opportunity to move teams and roles within one organization, is still not as feasible an option as some may like it to be. In fact, according to a recent Gartner study, 61% of employees think it would be beneficial for their careers to work in different parts of the organization, and future career opportunity is consistently one of the top reasons employees leave.
Tenured employees have already proven themselves, so you can assume they’re able to take on bigger projects and encourage greater collaboration between departments. Over the last few years, we as an organization acted on this conjecture, providing opportunities for our employees to develop new skills.
Jay Gordon is a MongoDB Developer Advocate and a major asset in providing information and assistance regarding all things MongoDB. He enables our developer community by creating technical content, answering questions, attending events, and providing as much assistance as possible to those using (or learning to use) MongoDB.
Jay was hired in 2016 as a Technical Account Manager on the Cloud Team to provide MongoDB customers with onboarding and integration assistance. While tackling his daily responsibilities, Jay became involved in helping the MongoDB user community understand new releases, products, and tools, acting as an advocate and evangelist. A little over a year into his role as a TAM, a Developer Advocate role opened up and Jay was the perfect fit.
“It was a difficult transition because I was taking on an entirely new role. There was some self-doubt that I was really capable of the position I had taken on, but in the end, much of that was just worry for the sake of worry. The MongoDB team was by my side to help with the shift, which had a lot to do with why I stayed instead of looking elsewhere for an opportunity, and the culture had a lot to do with my decision. Being part of MongoDB is a special experience and I was not ready to walk away from that quite yet. I love my job, I love the people I work with, and I love the opportunities to be part of something huge.”
Angshuman Bagchi joined the MongoDB team in 2013 as a Technical Service Engineer in Palo Alto. For over three years he worked on front line customer support helping customers become successful with MongoDB, but once he was struck with a desire to do something different, Angshuman went back to his development roots as a lead on our Technical Services Tools team, which is responsible for all tools used by our Technical Services Engineers. The role not only allowed him to do something different, it also provided the opportunity to learn managerial and administrative skills.
“My management was very supportive of my desire for a change. They gave me the freedom to explore opportunities both outside and within the broader Technical Services organization with the emphasis that I should be allowed to work on something I want. The move has afforded me a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth.”
Marie Vito is now the Program Lead and Coordinator for our award-winning Sales Enablement team – responsible for training, process implementation, tools, and coaching to make sales representatives and leaders the most productive they can be in their roles. Marie plans and leads the monthly MongoDB Sales Bootcamp training for all sales new hires, as well as anyone else in the company interested in learning about our sales strategy.
When she first joined MongoDB as a Recruiting Coordinator, Marie supported our sales organization by scheduling, coordinating, and facilitating interviews for all sales-related roles. During that time, she was able to form strong relationships with the sales team and quickly became interested in their goals and initiatives.
An initial conversation with the Senior Director of Sales Enablement helped to flesh out the role and determine that it was a position Marie wanted to pursue.
“Following that meeting I spoke with my then manager to express my aspirations. Once it was determined I was a good fit for the role, we developed a transition plan to ensure I would be leaving the recruiting team with a more than capable replacement, while still dedicating enough time to enablement training to make the ramp process as efficient as possible. It was incredible to have so much support from my new team, old team, and everyone else in the company.”
Providing employees the opportunity to try new things, explore new roles, and broaden their skills is a great way to foster both professional and personal growth. At MongoDB, we’ve found that supporting internal mobility is a key factor in retaining our best people and keeping them content.
Interested in learning more about what we’re doing at MongoDB? Click here.
The MongoDB Intern Series: Strong Female Engineers
#MongoDBSummer17 has concluded and our interns are back to school. Over the summer months we watched them grow both professionally and personally as part of a program we work to evolve and improve upon each year. Our intent is to provide an opportunity for students to learn, develop, and be inspired, but also to leave with a sense of accomplishment and drive to continue forward. Devin Hilly and Brigitte Lamarche are two of our Engineering interns this summer who experienced just that.
Andrea Dooley: What made you want to pursue a career in Computer Science?
Devin Hilly: My dad was a developer for a while and he had always suggested I consider it, but I had always been under the impression that coding wasn’t creative or social, and assumed it wasn’t for me. Yale has an open course enrollment policy so you don't have to officially register for classes until two weeks into the semester, and I was set on Applied Math, but on a whim I added a Computer Science course my friend had mentioned liking. It was an intro course and I really liked the assignments – it was a lot of work but a lot of fun and I was surprised to see the level of creativity involved.
Brigitte Lamarche: I originally thought I was going to major in Biology and pursue a career in the field, but then I took the intro to CS course at Princeton. While I do find that in biology it’s interesting to learn about what other people have done and found, for me the process of actually doing biology research is tedious. There is no guarantee you will actually find or make anything, which for me isn’t all that fulfilling. I like that computer science is about making things – coding is very concrete. You create something to perform an action and for me it’s very rewarding.
AD: What made you interested in an internship at MongoDB?
DH: I went to a career fair at Yale and when I approached the booth, one of the recruiters told me MongoDB was a t-shirt company. I was not involved enough in the CS department at the time to understand the joke, but now I get it – MongoDB t-shirts are in high demand. I applied online and when I came in for an interview I was interviewed by a female engineer for the first time ever. I had gone through approximately 15 technical interviews and it wasn’t until that moment I realized the lack of female presence in other organizations.
BL: I wasn’t familiar with MongoDB when the campus team had first reached out to me, but I did my research –I was curious to know what SQL vs. NoSQL actually meant. I then coincidentally attended a Women in Computer Science Tech Talk, where a lead engineer on the Kernel Team at MongoDB gave a talk about an issue she faced with a bug in the server and how she solved it. She showcased what she does day to day, which was very interesting and engaging.
AD: You’re both on the BI (Business Intelligence) Connector Team, so are you working on the same project?
DH: Actually no, what Brigitte and I are working on is very different. The team dynamic is great because we both have the ability to work on what we like. I wanted to work on something that was more focused on problem solving and hands on with SQL to MongoDB translation. It’s interesting work because one of the advantages of MongoDB is you don’t have to join your data, yet we still have this function because many MongoDB users are experienced with SQL and are used to jons. I really appreciated that we were given small tickets at the beginning of the summer and were asked for our input. At the time, I didn’t realize our mentors were trying to funnel us into a best fit project – I was given work that was similar to what I had said wanted to do.
BL: I chose the lower layer of the BI Connector, and named my project “Packet Optimization,” which consisted of two main parts – implementing SQL compression protocol (to make packets smaller) and buffering the packets written out (to send out fewer packets). My mentors let me work on tickets to get my feet wet and figure out what I was interested in which allowed me to learn SQL, NoSQL, and MongoDB all at the same time – very much a three birds, one stone scenario.
AD: Since you had a lot of input in what you were going to work on throughout your internship, did you face any challenges?
BL: The work itself is challenging. I would think I had something right and then when I realized I didn’t I would have to go back and do research to figure it out. At one point there was a bug I just could not resolve. I reached out to my mentor who, instead of telling me how to figure it out, gave me two clues. That was really fun and very helpful because ultimately I was able to work it out on my own.
DH: I faced some challenges in the beginning. I was unsure as to how creative I could be while working on the BI Connector because there is no front end, but I quickly learned algorithm design is much more creative than I anticipated and it surprised me how much I liked doing it. Also, MongoDB is a solid product with rigorous code review. In school you can hand in an assignment even if it’s not perfect, so I had some difficulty being thorough at first, but it’s a huge takeaway from my internship.
BL: I agree. In school you’re just trying to get it done, but here the aesthetic needs to be right – it needs to be scalable and well structured. Assignments are more focused on, “Does it work? Yes? Ok, move on.” You can take it upon yourself to have all these additional characteristics, but you won't get extra points for it, and with time playing a major factor there are other things you need to prioritize. Here you want to optimize, which is a key takeaway for me.
AD: Speaking of takeaways, what is one thing you will take with you from your experience as a MongoDB Summer ‘17 intern?
DH: Here you don’t need to be afraid to be honest with what you’d like to get out of the experience. I was very honest from the beginning that I was potentially interested in the business side. Both recruitment and management knew that and set up meetings for me with project managers. No one was ever like, “We hired you to be an engineer, you need to be an engineer.” Instead, they continually asked me for feedback and I was never afraid to be honest and it put me in a great position. MongoDB is good at specializing work for you.
BL: The Google memo really depressed me. Knowing that there are people in the industry who held the opinion that diversity is B.S. really affected me. I don’t know who they are or where they are – I felt like these people were hidden dangers I couldn’t identify. Our CTO, Eliot, wrote a note to the company addressing the memo. While it is his responsibility as a CTO to address something like that, I felt that he made a really good statement, very frank and to the point. He basically said: “let’s not kid ourselves, discrimination is real. We would not be having these conversations if discrimination did not exist.” He wasn’t sugar coating. He was blunt and addressed the issue and I really appreciate that.
AD: Do you feel this experience has helped you gain a better understanding of how to move forward in your career?
DH: Definitely. I came into into the internship unsure of what i wanted to do in the future, but this experience made me much more confident. I’ve learned that even non-technical roles require technical knowledge. I learned a lot of our leadership started out as developers, and they leveraged their technical skills and people skills to land their roles. It’s good to know there is opportunity to do technical work even if you decide to put away your keyboard and stop coding. I think MongoDB positions employees to do well and grow but no one is channeled into anything – there is room for mobility.
BL: For sure. I came in with a lot of confidence, but towards the middle of the summer I found myself a bit less confident. The work was very challenging and I was doing my best but thought maybe I just wasn't as knowledgeable as I could be. I’m leaving here feeling much more confident because over the course of the summer I became better at design. Macro structure was not something I had practiced all that much prior to interning. Back in high school I really enjoyed structuring essays for English class, but I didn’t know how to do something similar for code until this summer. It was a deja vu moment, as if I had learned these skills before but in a different way. I learned how to pivot my skills, and came out better at it.
We will be accepting resumes for next summer very soon! To learn more about the MongoDB Internship Program, click here.
The MongoDB Intern Series: Computer Science For All
The #MongoDBSummer17 Interns have been able to work on some pretty amazing projects this intern season. Whether they were writing code to enhance user experience across the globe, preparing our newest backend as a service, MongoDB Stitch, for launch, or creating e-learning platforms for students to learn computer science in a new way, they have had an immense impact on both the product and the community.
Computer Science For All (CS4All) is an initiative intended to further implement and apply computer science education to all of the New York City’s public schools. The program is built on the understanding that early exposure will help revolutionize the way students think about and understand CS, as well as increase interest amongst diverse groups because many students either lack access to CS or gain it too late.
Nathan Dalal and Jordan Stapinski are two of our interns this summer who were able to work on the initiative. Nathan is entering his junior year at Stanford while Jordan will be starting his senior year at Carnegie Mellon in the fall. I had the opportunity to sit down with them to discuss their role within CS4All.
Andrea Dooley: How and where were you first introduced to CS?
Jordan Stapinski: In my senior year of highschool I took an elective which covered very basic computer science and programming. It was by no means technical, but it made me interested in computer programming, which prompted me to pursue it in college.
Nathan Dalal: I took an advanced CS class in the 10th grade. My teacher was awesome and really excited about all things computer science. Once I got the hang of computers and coding I had a lot of fun with it.
AD: How did you come to find the MongoDB Internship Program?
JS: I had used MongoDB while experimenting with different databases. I was curious to see what was different about it because at the time I was using a lot of MySQL. Then the Campus Team came to a Carnegie Mellon career fair with Carnegie Mellon alumni and we had good conversations. Aside from what I knew about the product, the opportunity seemed really interesting.
ND: MongoDB came to a Stanford career fair. I was familiar with the company because my previous internship used MongoDB as their primary database. I had never queried a database before that internship, but I found it to be super powerful. I thought it would be really cool to work at MongoDB and work on something that a ton of people use and will continue to use.
AD: Tell me about the team you’re working on and how you became involved with the Computer Science For All initiative?
ND: Jordan and I were placed on the Education Team, which is sort of an atypical but vital part of the business. They manage documentation and education courseware for MongoDB in order to help developers become more acquainted with MongoDB, understand best practices, and become familiar with new features and updates.
JS: The Computer Science For All initiative works with partners across the city to help foster implementation and growth of Computer Science programs in all NYC public schools. MongoDB is one of those partners, specifically the Education Team because they really know how to teach – it comes with the territory. Nathan and I have been working on creating interactive lessons that help to demonstrate and explain basic CS skills for teachers to add to their curriculum for this coming school year.
AD: That sounds like an amazing project and a huge undertaking. What kind of lessons did you create and how did you build out a plan to create them?
JS: We first looked through the NYC high school curriculum. There is a scope and sequence of topics for each grade every month so we looked for areas of opportunity for what would be most interesting and relevant. I found Social Studies to be particularly interesting because one of the topics was the evolution of communication amongst groups over time, which also covered cryptography. I built an Enigma unit which included Caesar Shift, Vigenere Cipher, and the Enigma Machine encryptions. All are algorithm-based and help to teach basic principles of CS such as pattern matching.
ND: I took a mathematical approach by leveraging mean, median, and mode, which are fundamental in CS by means of summing and sorting lists, and counting elements. The lesson integrates what these concepts are and how you would go about coding them. The lessons incorporate real data by determining the mean, median, and mode of the weather forecast of any city in the world, and also of the age, height, and weight of basketball players on any given team in the NBA.
AD: Those are really out of the box approaches for introducing Computer Science to students. How will they be implemented into the curriculum?
ND: In the first two weeks of our internship we went through technical training which included MongoDB courses, so we were able to get a good understanding as to how to distribute our units. We want teachers to have access to the right resources to understand how to use these units in their classroom and why they are relevant and important instead of just throwing technology at them. The lessons are not teaching CS per se, but they are teaching the topics and skillsets necessary to have a better understanding of logic and how computers work, as well as how to write code and understand it.
JS: We are leveraging CS4all.NYC to distribute the lessons and unit documentation to explain which grade levels and standards each lesson targets and how students can benefit. The documentation will also help teachers with user experience and get all they can out of each lesson before sharing it in the classroom. We had students work through the units to test and they were able to provide great feedback for changes we should make. They had a great time working on it and said they would love having this type of lesson as part of their curriculum. That was probably my proudest moment.
AD: This project is very different than what other interns are working on. How did you get involved?
ND: I’m working on completing my minor in education so the Education Team was my first choice for my internship. The public education project and the internship program itself exceeded my expectations entirely. I’ve always wanted to work with public education and it was awesome that I found this project at MongoDB. I would not expect a database company to focus on improvements for CS education, but that is the spirit of MongoDB. They find the time and the resources to work on these types of cool projects and have a lot of impact, plus I personally have been able to learn a lot by building the unit.
JS: The Education Team was also my first choice. I’m a Teaching Assistant at Carnegie Mellon, with a passion for education. I saw this project as an amazing opportunity for me to make an impact on the community, students, and ultimately the future of computer science education in New York City. When I was in high school, computer science was not tied into anything other than the designated courses. The thought of trying to find ways to tie it in for more exposure and engagement sounded really interesting.
AD: What has been your biggest takeaway either from the project or the internship overall?
JS: The experience for me has been one giant “Think Big, Go Far” moment. MongoDB is at a place where people are working on projects that matter to society as well as the business. They have a true passion for the work they do, and are so excited about what they’re doing that it rubs off. Everyone is happy to be here, which has helped to push me forward. This project helped to solidify that I want to move forward with a masters program. I’d say it’s helped me to realize the path I want to take.
ND: From the way the recruiters talked about the program and the opportunity, to the people who interviewed me, you could tell MongoDB is a technically strong company and regardless of what I was working on I was able to grow a lot. There are dimensions to your work – you’re not just coding all day and completing an assignment and going home. People really care about the way you develop on your own. I wanted to be where i knew my work would matter, and this project has certainly fulfilled that. The intern events have been awesome, from Aladdin on Broadway to bowling to Escape the Room – it’s been really great to interact with everyone and spend time together outside of the office. I’ve been able to build relationships with a lot of super smart people.
We’re very proud of Nathan and Jordan and the work they did to help students across New York City become more actively involved in computer science. Their project is a giant step in the right direction to help increase interest in CS careers and bridge the gap in diversity forever.
Our summer program is coming to an end but we will be accepting resumes for next summer very soon! To learn more about the MongoDB Internship Program, click here.