MongoDB Celebrates Reaching 1,000 Employees
We’re excited to announce that MongoDB has officially reached 1,000 employees across the globe.
For some of us, it’s a time to reflect on how far we’ve come.
For others, this milestone helps to generates excitement for what is to come in the future.
A fantastic milestone for #mongodb today passing #mdb1k or 1000 employees and here's a photo of our wee celebration in Dublin to mark it. Amazing company and so much yet to come https://t.co/kqTBOw0PNa @MongoDBcareers @MongoDB @MongoDBDublin pic.twitter.com/zyuGhcFrkl— Eoin Brazil (@eoinbrazil) May 11, 2018
And for the rest of us, it was another moment to be proud of, and a new reason to celebrate.
Were proud of how far we’ve come, and we’re looking forward to the next 1,000.
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.
MongoDB Has Revamped Its Parental Leave Policy
To kick off the new year, the MongoDB Human Resources team introduced an updated Parental Leave Policy to the company. Now that MongoDB has over 900 employees globally, the previous policy was no longer suitable or scalable, and it had the potential for improvement. With each new year we strive to be better and do more based on the needs, wants, and interests of our employees.
My name is Dan Heasman and I am the most recent addition to the MongoDB leadership team. As Chief People Officer and a father of two, I was particularly passionate and excited about updating our parental leave. A strong support for mothers and fathers at the start of the incredible parenting journey is absolutely essential to our goals of fostering a highly inclusive culture and ensuring MongoDB is a great place to come and build a career.
The new policy, effective as of January 1, 2018, allows for 20 weeks of paid leave for both mothers and fathers, as well as additional programs to provide assistance. Parental leave can be taken at any time, in separate durations if desired, within the first year. To facilitate a smooth transition when returning to work, employees are also able to participate in an additional 4-week flexible work arrangement with intermittent leave within the first year. This is all in addition to our unlimited vacation policy and flexible work from home standards.
I spoke with some of our employees regarding the policy, including those who experienced the previous version, and those who are already experiencing or will experience the new policy. They provided some really great insight on the real concerns expecting parents face while maintaining their career.
Andy Schwerin, Vice President of Engineering for the MongoDB Core Server team, is responsible for the design and development of sharding, replication and query execution, and the teams that build them. He is a father of three, having had one child in his first year at MongoDB and adding two more in the years since.
“Before our second child was born we had just moved to New York and our biggest concern was that my wife would go into labor while I was at the office. At the time, MongoDB was a much smaller company with limited leave policies. I think the new policy is a terrific idea. Talented, motivated people are hard to hire and important to retain. A generous parental leave policy sends the message that MongoDB values its employees, and that it’s willing to support employees as we grow our families.”
A gender neutral approach was particularly important for us moving forward because both parents should be able to share the responsibilities regardless of gender.
Duncan Armstrong is a Senior Developer, working as a backend developer on MongoDB cloud products, as well as mentoring, pairing, and reviewing code for other developers. He is also the father of 15-month-old twin boys. For his wife, pregnancy was incredibly difficult due to a medical condition, and Duncan needed a lot of support from his leaders and team at MongoDB.
“I had to work from home often, or work off hours so I could look after and help my wife. There was never any hint of disapproval from my manager. The only problem with our previous program was that four weeks of leave wasn’t really sufficient. It’s hard enough for inexperienced parents to look after one newborn, but with twins, it was a full on rollercoaster. I really had to figure out how to manage my time. Because MongoDB has unlimited general leave it was easy to take extra time off when I needed to, and I was able to work from home a lot the first few months.
“In regards to the new policy, I’m so happy MongoDB has taken this step. As a father I know it can be hard bonding with your newborn. In the beginning they don’t give you much in return for your many efforts and the only way around that is to spend a lot of time with them. I don’t know how you can get that kind of bonding time if you’ve got to be back at the office full-time after just a couple of weeks.”
Keeping these types of experiences in mind, we opted to provide additional benefits within the program to address some of the common obstacles expecting parents will face during pregnancy.
The MongoDB Parental Buddy Program provides support by connecting both birth, foster, and adopting parents as they prepare for the arrival of their baby, during their parental leave, and during their return to work.
LUCY provides employees with fully personalized and customizable counselling. From pregnancy through the baby's first year, sessions are conducted by a team of licensed, vetted health and wellness experts on all aspects of taking parental leave – from coping with morning sickness to choosing the right childcare.
Our global Employee Assistance Program provides employees with free counseling sessions to and includes a program to help new parents deal with the natural stress and emotional adjustment that comes with being a first time parent. (EAP offers free counseling for all employees, not only new parents.)
Ozge Tuncel is our VP of Customer Success and Sales Development, working out of our NYC headquarters for the last three years. A little over a year ago, Ozge was the only expecting mother in our New York office.
“At the time, there was no one other than me going through the experience in New York. The policy was three months of leave, with the ability to work from home as needed, and a very nice private room in the office available as a mother's room. Our HR team had a great process to help with formal steps, the executive team was very supportive during my transition back to work, and flexible working hours were very helpful. What we lacked was an informal peer support system that any new parent needs. We now have more new parents, a new-moms Slack channel, and the Parental Buddy Program, which are all great for advice and support.”
We are very excited for our currently expecting parents and future parents-to-be to experience all that the new program has to offer. New parents can now expect flexibility baked in, removing the need to request or negotiate time off or time away – which can be perceived either by the employee or manager as an individual accomodation, one that generally comes at the cost of other members of the team.
Jen Tyrseck is our Director of Corporate Communications, managing company-wide communications internally and externally to help people learn more about and gain confidence in MongoDB. She recently had her first child at the end of January, and is the first employee to experience our updated parental leave policy.
“Thinking back to the beginning of my pregnancy, I did have a number of (unwarranted) concerns regarding how I would balance working full time and the challenges of pregnancy. Things like, ‘Would I become suddenly sick at my desk? Would my team question my commitment to the job and company? Could I manage the new expectations required of me to continue performing well in my job, while raising a family?’
“I’ve really been impressed with the support I’ve received. A flexible, work-from-home as needed schedule has permitted me the time to attend all doctor’s appointments. I also have access to licensed health and wellness experts for customized counselling on planning for parental leave, preparing for labor and delivery, and newborn basics as well as counselling sessions after the baby comes regarding lactation, sleep transitioning, and how to ease back to work. A strong network of women interested in mentoring and sharing experiences to learn how to balance the inevitable changes, including how to balance my life in two full-time roles, has also been invaluable.”
Graham Neray is the Chief of Staff to MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria. His wife, Meghan Gill, is our VP of Sales Operations, and reports directly to CRO Carlos Delatorre. They met at work, married in October of 2016, and welcomed their first child in early January of this year.
Both are extremely passionate about their careers, and are on very lean teams, so questions arose when they decided to start a family – particularly how to adapt to being on leave at a fast-paced company where things are constantly evolving, and how to balance their roles at MongoDB while adjusting their schedules to their new lives as parents.
“On other teams, everyone can take on a little bit of what you’re doing – maybe 10% or 20% each while you’re out. As Chief of Staff, I am essentially a team of one and I do a little bit of everything,” Graham noted, “so I had to find other people on other teams to pitch in while I’m on leave – in finance, marketing, partners, and HR. Dev’s EA helped out a lot too. In the end, everyone has been very supportive, especially Dev. Over and over he told me: ‘family comes first.’ ”
“The most important thing for us is flexibility,” said Meghan. “For instance, we were both able to easily step out for appointments while I was pregnant, and through LUCY, we took several classes to prepare for life as new parents. Now that we have a baby, there will of course be more visits to the doctor and other things that pop up.
“MongoDB has been a center of gravity for us for a while – now we have a new center of gravity. From our experience during the pregnancy, it’s comforting to know that we can successfully make use of a flexible work arrangement to get it all done.”
Current parental leave standards throughout the world, and in the U.S. especially, can de-prioritize starting a family if the choice has to be made between pursuing a career and beginning this new life, rather than doing both at the same time. We are proud of the steps we are taking to ensure no MongoDB employee ever feels obligated to make that choice, and has the support they deserve from the organization they have selected to give their dedication and time.
The Best Solutions Architects Work At MongoDB
Despite the bravado in the title, the purpose of this article is not to say that MongoDB Solutions Architects (SAs) are better than those working at other organizations. Rather, this article argues that the unique challenges encountered by SAs at MongoDB imply that successful MongoDB SAs are some of the best in the business. This assertion is derived from the unique challenges encountered by both supporting MongoDB customers and the MongoDB sales organization and breadth and depth of skills and knowledge required to be successful.
To see why this is the case, let’s explore the role of an SA at MongoDB and the wide range of skills a Solutions Architect must master. A MongoDB SA (sometimes called a Sales Engineer in other organizations) is an engineer that supports the sales organization. The role is multi-faceted. A solutions architect must have:
- In-depth technical knowledge to both understand a customer’s technical challenges and to articulate how MongoDB addresses them
- Communication skills to present technical concepts in a clear and concise manner while tactfully dealing with skeptics and those more familiar with other technologies
- Sales skills to engage a prospect to learn their business challenges and the technical capabilities required to address those challenges
- Design and troubleshooting skills to assist prospects with designing solutions to complex problems and getting them back on track when things go wrong.
The description above may make the MongoDB Solutions Architect role sound like other similar roles, but there are unique features of MongoDB (the product) and its competitive situation that make this role extremely challenging. We will explore this in the sections below.
While the strength of MongoDB and a major factor in its success has been the ease with which it can be adopted by developers, MongoDB is a complex product. Presenting MongoDB, answering questions, brainstorming designs, and helping resolve problems requires a wide range of knowledge including:
- The MongoDB query language
- Application development with MongoDB’s drivers in 10+ different programming languages
- Single and multi-data center architectures for high availability
- Tuning MongoDB to achieve the required level of performance, read consistency, and write durability
- Scaling MongoDB to manage TBs of data and thousands of queries per second
- Estimating the size of a cluster (or the cloud deployment costs) required to meet application requirements
- Best practices for MongoDB schema design and how to design the best MongoDB schema for a given application
- MongoDB Enterprise operations tools: Ops Manager, Compass, etc.
- Atlas: MongoDB’s Database as a Service Offering
- MongoDB’s various connectors: BI, Spark, and Hadoop
- Migration strategies from RDBMS (and other databases) to MongoDB
This is a lot to know and there is a lot of complexity. In addition to the core knowledge listed above, knowledge of the internal workings of MongoDB is essential when working on designs for applications with high performance and scalability requirements. Therefore, most Solutions Architects understand MongoDB’s internal architecture, such as how the WiredTiger storage engine works or how a MongoDB cluster manages connections.
To make the SA role even more challenging, organizations often choose MongoDB after failing with some other technology. (Maybe their RDBMS didn’t scale or it was too difficult to expand to handle new sources of data, or Hadoop processing did not meet real-time requirements, or some other NoSQL solution did not provide the required query expressibility and secondary indexes.) This means that MongoDB is often used for bleeding-edge applications that have never been built before. One of the roles of an SA is to understand the application requirements and help the application team come up with an initial design that will ensure their success1.
It is probably obvious to experienced SAs, but SAs need to understand the capabilities, strengths, and weakness of all competing and tangential solutions as well. MongoDB’s biggest competitors are Oracle, Amazon, and Microsoft – all of whom are constantly evolving their product offerings and marketing strategies. An SA must always keep their knowledge up to date as the market evolves.
Being a great technologist is not enough. An SA spends at least as much time communicating with customers as they do working with technology. Communication is sometimes in the form of a standard presentation or demo, but it most often entails detailed technical conversations about how MongoDB works or how MongoDB can be used to address a particular problem. Concise technical explanations that address customer questions using language tailored to their particular situation and frame of reference are the hallmark of an SA.
MongoDB SAs have to be comfortable communicating with a wide range of people, not just development teams. They must engage operations, line of business stakeholders, architects, and technology executives in sales discovery conversations and present the technical aspects of MongoDB of most concern at the appropriate level of detail. For example, an SA must be able to provide technology executives with an intuitive feel for why their development teams will be significantly more productive with MongoDB or will be able to deploy a solution that can meet scalability and performance requirements unattainable with previous technology approaches. Similarly, an SA must learn an operations team’s unique challenges related to managing MongoDB and describe how tools like Ops Manager and Atlas address these requirements.
Public speaking skills are also essential. Solutions Architects deliver webinars, speak at conferences, write blog posts, and lead discussions and MongoDB User Groups (MUGs).
An SA is a member of the Sales organization and “selling” is a big part of the role. Selling involves many aspects. First, SAs assist the MongoDB Account Executives with discovery and qualification. They engage the customer in conversations to understand what their current problems are, their desired solution, the business benefits of the solution, the technical capabilities required to implement this solution, and how they'll measure success. After every customer conversation, SAs work with their Account Executives to refine their understanding of the customer’s situation and identify information that they want to gather at future meetings.
Once the required technical capabilities are understood, it is the SA’s role to lead the sales activities that prove to the customer that (1) MongoDB meets all their required capabilities and (2) MongoDB meets these capabilities better than competing solutions. Most of the time this is accomplished via customer conversations, presentations, demonstrations, and design brainstorming meetings.
Finally, customers sometimes want to test or validate that MongoDB will meet their technical required capabilities. This is often in the form of a proof of concept (POC) that might test MongoDB performance or scalability, the ease of managing MongoDB clusters with its operations tools, or that MongoDB’s BI Connector provides seamless connectivity with industry standard BI Tools, such as Tableau, Qlik, etc. SAs lead these POC efforts. They work with prospects to define and document the scope and success criteria and work with the prospect during the course of a POC to ensure success.
Design and Troubleshooting
I alluded to this in the “Technology” section: helping prospects with creative problem solving distinguishes SAs at MongoDB. Organizations will choose MongoDB if they believe and understand how they will be successful with it. Imparting this understanding (a big part of the Solutions Architect’s role) is typically done by helping an organization through some of the more thorny design challenges and implementation decisions. Organizations will choose MongoDB when they understand the framework of a good MongoDB design for their use case and believe all their design requirements will be met.
Designing a solution is not a yes or no question that can be researched in the documentation, but is found through deep technical knowledge, careful analysis, and tradeoffs among many competing requirements. The best answer is often found through a collaborative process with the customer. SAs often lead these customer discussions, research solutions to the most challenging technical problems, and help craft the resulting design.
Solutions Architects are also a source of internal innovation at MongoDB. Since Solutions Architects spend a significant amount of time speaking with customers, they are the first to realize when marketing or technical material is not resonating with customers or is simply difficult to understand. The pressure of short timelines and desire to be successful often results in innovative messaging and slides that are often adopted by MongoDB’s Product Marketing organization.
Similar innovation often occurs with respect to MongoDB feature requests and enhancements. SAs are continually working with customers to help them solve problems and they quickly identify areas where MongoDB’s enhancements would provide significant value. The identification of these areas and specific recommendations from SAs on what product enhancements are required have played a big role in focusing the feature set of future MongoDB releases.
Lastly, SAs often support a number of Account Executives and work on several dozen sales opportunities per quarter. This means that SAs are working a large number of opportunities simultaneously and must be highly organized to ensure that they are prepared for each activity and complete every follow-up item in a timely manner. It is not possible for an SA manager to track or completely understand every sales opportunity so SAs must be self-motivated and manage all their own activities.
Solutions Architecture at MongoDB is a challenging and rewarding role. The wide range of technical knowledge plus sales and communication skills required to be successful is common to SA roles. When you combine this with the need for SAs to design innovative solutions to complex (often previously unsolvable problems), the SAs have the set of skills and the track record of success that makes them the “best” in the business.
If you want to join the best, check out the MongoDB Careers page.
About the Author - Jay Runkel
Jay Runkel is a principal solutions architect at MongoDB. For over 5 years, Jay has worked with Fortune 500 companies to architect enterprise solutions using non-relational document databases.
Before MongoDB, Jay was a key team member at MarkLogic and Venafi, where he worked with financial services, medical, and media organizations to develop operational systems for analytics and custom publishing. He also has experience guiding large financial institutions, retailers, health care and insurance organizations to secure, protect, and manage their encryption assets.
Jay has a BS in Applied Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon and a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.
1. My favorite part of the job is to get locked in a conference room and whiteboard for 4 hours with a development team to brainstorm the MongoDB solution/design for a particular use case. The most valuable end product of this session is not the design, but the development’s belief that they will be successful with MongoDB and that the development process will be easier than they expected. ↩
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.
The MongoDB Intern Series: From a Public University to a Private Company
For students studying computer science in public universities and community colleges, it can be difficult to land a dream internship. The supposition is that many organizations are so selective in their qualifications that they tend to only consider students from top private institutions to bring on as interns and ultimately hire.
That was Joseph Pena’s initial thought when he first came across a job posting for the MongoDB Summer Internship Program. Joseph is going into his senior year at the University of Florida where he is a CS major and a member of the Association of Computing Machinery and Software Engineering Club.
Andrea Dooley: How were you first introduced to the MongoDB internship program?
Joseph Pena: I received a Glassdoor job alert for the internship program. I was actually surprised to see there was an institution behind MongoDB. I knew the technology but assumed it was maintained publicly – I had no idea about the business side of it.
AD: How were you first introduced to MongoDB (the database)?
JP: I actually used MongoDB for an iOS app I helped to develop called Guardian, which was a check-in application to let people know you’re safe. We used MongoDB to store user account information and timestamps.
AD: What were some of your initial thoughts once you learned there was an organization backing the technology?
JP: At first I wasn’t going to apply. I had this preconceived notion that MongoDB would be the type of company that only pursues students from private institutions. Public universities tend to get a bad rep, and students from private institutions probably seem like a safe bet so you know you’ll have good candidates. But what you won’t have is diversity to help the company grow, which really helps in the long run.
AD: What made you change your mind and apply for the internship?
JP: There was a great description of MongoDB culture on Glassdoor, and a lot of emphasis on programs for diversity and inclusion. It resonated with me because I feel it’s very important especially as a Latino in tech and I wanted ensure I would be somewhere where I felt included.
AD: Since you’re about eight weeks into your internship, do you feel the perception given on Glassdoor holds true?
JP: Absolutely. It has been humbling to work here. The people are so extremely smart that I sometimes think “I don’t know if I could ever be as smart as them,” but no one is pompous or arrogant. It inspires me to do more and I’ve learned there is always room for improvement. My team is also really great – we’re an eclectic group from all different backgrounds and everyone is always very willing to help.
AD: What team are you on and what have you been working on during your internship?
JP: I’m on the Cloud Backup Team. I have a high interest when it comes to backend development; I find it to be very challenging. I’ve been working on an enhancement – recoverability for the backup agent. When customers are backing up their data, especially when it comes to larger companies, it can sometimes take up to two months for them to sync their data for a backup. If their server happens to shut down during that time they will have to start all over. I am working to create an enhancement that will allow the backup to pick up right where it left off.
AD: What has been one of your favorite things about MongoDB?
JP: The speaker series is really great. It provided the interns with real information as to what is going on in the company, not just from an engineering perspective but from a bigger picture. We were able to learn how MongoDB deploys engineers in the field, which is a part of the business we don’t have to think about because none of us are actually in the field.
AD: What are your thoughts on the overall state of the business?
JP: It was explained by the CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) how we are able to sell free software successfully and how much is invested in the sales team. It’s clear that here the entire business is celebrated, not just engineering or just sales, but instead all moving parts of the business, and we are ahead of the curve when it comes to changes in technology.
AD: Any key takeaways?
JP: I only started programming two and a half years ago and was hesitant to apply to MongoDB. But I did apply, and I was accepted. I am a testament to the notion that if you work really hard you can achieve anything you want. I chose MongoDB because I wanted the small company experience where I actually mattered, not just to be a cog in a machine. MongoDB is building a new technology so I knew that any type of work would include developing a new feature rather than supporting a legacy system and no matter what team I was working on it would always be innovative, which has been the best part of my entire experience.
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.
Women in Tech: The MongoDB + Women ReBOOT Initiative
How do you build a great company? You hire great people. How do you hire great people? You look for great resumes. Seems straightforward enough, but can a resume truly reflect a person’s quality, character or potential? Is it possible that by focusing on resumes, we are missing out on exceptional talent?
Our Dublin office recently partnered with Technology Ireland on their Women ReBOOT initiative, which is specifically designed to build a bridge between technology employers and highly skilled women who have been out of the workforce for some time. The program helps us to identify highly skilled talent within the region that we may have otherwise missed.
Women ReBOOT supports women who are considering going back to work after taking time off to tend to family and personal matters. The program is structured and built on four pillars which include providing eLearning courses to help update technology skills, two-week mentored company work-placement in order to become familiar with today’s tech sector, monthly group seminars to enhance professional development, and one-on-one professional coaching to build confidence. The program was first introduced in February of this year as an initiative led by Technology Ireland and Software Skillnet to support diversity and address the gender imbalance.
Women make up around 25% of the total technology workforce in Ireland, and across Europe only 9% of women above the age of 45 work in the sector. Programs and initiatives have been established across the region to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM, but there is also a massive opportunity to attract women from STEM disciplines back into the workforce. Carol Teskey, the Senior Director of People in EMEA and APAC at MongoDB, had heard about the program and reached out to include MongoDB as one of the first partners of the ReBoot program. ‘We are always looking for new ways to find great talent, and change the ratio for women in technology. The ReBoot program seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”
MongoDB Technical Services Engineer Clare Scally was invited to speak to the group on behalf of MongoDB regarding her experience working as a full-time mother and as a woman in tech.
“Taking time off can impact morale. It’s common for people to disqualify themselves from a role before they even apply due to lack of confidence in experience. I merely acted as a motivator to help build self-assurance. I received great feedback from the women in the audience. Their experiences were very similar to mine and I believe it helped them to realize there was still opportunities available.”
ReBOOT participant Mary Gorman had been in the developer space for almost 10 years until she decided to take personal leave to be with her four young children full time in 2003, but never stopped doing technical work. She became the go-to point of contact for any IT-related issues that occurred during her kids’ extracurriculars. She also set up an online craft business which became an international success, selling knitted pieces world-wide.
“I would knit while the boys were doing their homework. It was great that I was able to be there for them and still had my own interests. I thought I was too old to get back and my skills were not where they needed to be. I also considered what my CV would look like to an employer given the large gap since my last role, and I worried because I didn’t have any recent references to list.”
Mary was first introduced to the ReBOOT program through a friend, and when she started working through the online courses she was surprised to see how little things had changed. There was more functionality than she had ever seen – some of the terms and syntax were different – but the programming courses were just as she remembered. This gave her the reassurance that programming was programming regardless of time away.
At the same time, Angela Morgan, a programmer with more than 10 years of experience working overseas in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City, was also considering getting back to work full time.
She was just a teenager when she started programming, and continued through university where she earned a degree in Applied Computing. She worked for a handful of companies in both Ireland and the U.S., and gained extensive programming experience until 2007 when she decided to take some time off to raise her family.
“I had been out of the workforce for years and away from programming. Because of how fast technology changes I didn’t feel all that confident going back. I knew I enjoyed having interactions with customers and users so I decided to pivot to the support side, and spent three years in the Bay Area as a Technical Support Engineer. When we finally moved back to Ireland, I had never worked in Dublin before so I didn’t know anyone to reach out to in terms of networking. I worried given the gaps in my CV and the changes in roles I would have a very hard time finding my next role.”
Angela joined the ReBOOT initiative by means of her husband who came across an online ad, and leveraged the e-learning courses to refresh her skills. With each seminar she felt more familiar and more engaged, but most importantly more confident.
After MongoDB reviewed a number of applications and interviewed five candidates who practiced interviewing skills and updated their CVs with ReBOOT, Mary and Angela were two of three women brought on to complete their two week work placement at the MongoDB office. They were placed on the Technical Services Engineering team, and Clare was their assigned mentor.
“There is such a high caliber of women in the program,” Clare notes. “They are exactly what organizations are looking for but can’t seem to find because CVs don’t always tell the entire story. We were looking for skills aside from just technical. The women were out of date with some of the technology but they learned quickly and were easily brought up to speed. I introduced them to the MongoDB training courses, and had them set up a replica set – they succeeded at every task and worked very well as a team. They were extremely motivated, patient, and did a great job juggling customer cases and issues. They possessed the unique qualities that come from raising a family, and were able to apply them to work."
On her first day, Mary was “Terrified. My eldest son is 21 and a lot of his friends are in the software space – I was afraid I was going to step into a room full of his friends. I was worried about not knowing all the buzzwords, but I learned them quickly. The technical meetings were a fantastic way to learn. Dublin is a very busy office but we were able to shadow as closely as we needed to which was really advantageous. I really enjoyed the environment and felt I bonded with the people.”
Angela was “Impressed. Everything was so organized for when we arrived. They were really ready for us. Clare was our main mentor and she gave us something to do everyday from setting up a replica set to guiding us through the documentation to learn more about MongoDB and document databases. Someone was always there to help if we ran into a problem, and we worked together as a team.”
After a two week term in the Dublin office working on a number of cases and projects and going well beyond their standard support responsibilities, it was suggested that if interested they apply for full time positions at MongoDB. Both Mary and Angela did apply, went through the standard MongoDB interview process, and after a few weeks both were extended offers to work at MongoDB full time, which they accepted. Mary Gorman is one of our newest Cloud Triage Support Associate and Angela Morgan has joined as a Cloud Support Associate, both on the Technical Services team.
With so few women choosing the IT sector to begin with, the ReBOOT program was an incredible opportunity for us to connect with existing qualified talent and make two great hires to our team. Initiatives like Women’s ReBOOT help to set an example for the next generation so they never feel the need to chose between family and a career. ReBOOT will be offering another program opportunity this fall and we are looking forward to partnering with them again.
Interested in learning more about Women ReBOOT? Click here.
The MongoDB Summer '17 Intern Series: From the Valley to NYC
The summer months are an extraordinary time for our NYC headquarters, and not because of the immense heat that infiltrates the surrounding Times Square. Each summer we are joined by college students from all over the country and the world, who have chosen MongoDB as their place to learn.
Allison Chang is a rising senior at Princeton University and a Bay Area local. She joins us this year as one of our 57 #MongoDBSummer17 interns, making the leap cross-country to spend 12 weeks between her junior and senior year with the MongoDB Replication Team at our NYC headquarters.
Andrea Dooley: First and foremost, why NYC? I’m sure there were a ton of opportunities close to home in the Bay Area.
Allison Chang: There were, but I grew up in California and wanted to experience something different.
AD: So then what attracted you to MongoDB?
AC: I’ve know about MongoDB since high school – the t-shirts are everywhere in the Valley, so when the campus team reached out, I had a level of familiarity. I also spoke with a friend from Princeton who had interned last year. She had a great experience and really liked how everyone was friendly and helpful.
AD: What ultimately made you want to intern at MongoDB this summer?
AC: I liked that MongoDB was a mid-size private company. I felt that I would be able to interact with people at all levels of the company, which held true. My previous internship was at a much larger company and I felt very disconnected. Here I not only have my mentor, but I am also well acquainted with my technical lead and the Director of Distributed Systems because we all sit in the same row. They're available to answer any questions, and it gives me assurance that what I’m doing is important and the work is meaningful.
AD: You’re on the Replication Team which falls under Distributed Systems. What have you been able to work on so far?
AC: I’m currently working on changing the rollback algorithm for non-WiredTiger storage systems. Right now MongoDB has two major storage engines with different requirements and two different rollback algorithms. Depending on the feature there will be a different algorithm, so I’m working on making the 3.4 algorithm the same for 3.6.
AD: How were you first introduced to computer science? Do you remember your first encounter?
AC: It was a long time ago. I had very early exposure to general computer science and engineering because the middle school I went to offered a half-year robotics class. I remember working with programmable Legos and building robots by leveraging software. I also learned basic HTML and was required to build a website to complete the class.
AD: That’s a really unique program. Since you had such early exposure, have you faced any challenges during your internship?
AC: Adapting to New York and working at MongoDB has been interesting, but mostly it’s been learning how to structure code to be user friendly for people who will use it down the line. In school it’s been more learning code for the course or for myself. Since MongoDB is open-source, and all the server code is public, there are more things to consider about the way in which someone else may use it.
AD: So, what has your overall experience been like? Maybe your favorite intern event or favorite part of the office, or favorite thing about MongoDB?
AC: The Speaker Series was really great. A panel of employees across all departments discuss their roles and teams and how they affect the company. From C-level execs, board members, new grads, and others, we get to see different perspectives on MongoDB.
In terms of favorite part of the office, that would be the cold brew coffee machine. It’s a daily habit of mine to wake up and grab coffee somewhere. But here I get to wake up, come to the office, grab a cold brew and start my day.
I also really like how everyone here is very approachable. I’ve shifted from originally only asking my mentor questions to now asking other people on other teams. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable acting as a liaison and there’s more self direction on my project as well. It’s gone through some changes since I started it, and I have a lot of freedom to think about how I want to solve things.
AD: It seems like you’ve had a wonderful experience so far and that’s great to hear. What would you say to someone who might be interested in applying for an internship at MongoDB?
AC: It’s made very clear on day one that what you’re going to work on as an intern is important, and the coolest thing is that because MongoDB is open-source you can actually check. I have a friend who was an intern a few years ago and was able to work on the UI for Evergreen. He did a great job because not much has changed since and I think it’s a fantastic UI. MongoDB is a great company to ensure what you’re doing as an intern is important.