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Intern Spotlight: Jason Hu
This year, MongoDB welcomed 33 university students to our intern program in Engineering, Marketing, and Education. In this series, we'll introduce you to the talented students who are helping us transform development and operations for how we run applications today. I had the chance to sit down with Jason Hu who spent the summer in our Palo Alto office working with the CAP team! Where do you go to school, what is your major, and what year are you in? I'm a rising senior at Brown University, where I study computer science. What is your role at MongoDB? I’m a software engineering intern on the CAP team. How did you find out about the internship program at MongoDB? Why did you choose to come to MongoDB? I actually started computer science a year late, so I didn’t really know about tech companies, let alone MongoDB until late in college. As I did more CS I learned from upperclassmen and recent graduates about the company, and it seemed like a cool mix of technical challenges that thought big. What’s your hometown? I actually grew up in the Silicon Valley—I’m from Los Altos, California. My friends and I would walk by Facebook when it was still a small startup in Palo Alto. Did you have previous experience using MongoDB before you arrived? If so, how are things different now that you work at MongoDB? If not, how did you learn MongoDB and how was the education process? I had no experience whatsoever. To be honest, databases had been a huge, intimidating block of computer science and software engineering that I haven’t really touched before. I figured throwing myself in the deep end would be the best way to learn, and after one week of orientation I definitely learned more than an entire semester. All the on-boarding staff and mentors were terrific—they should consider becoming professors, after they retire. Working on actual projects has also taught me loads about databases—not just how to use them, but how to think about them in the larger picture of an enterprise or business. Bike or public transportation to work? I drive, actually. One of the perks of being at home, I suppose, is having my old car. What’s a typical day (or week) for you? Well, it’s really hard to say since every week I’ve had has been so different. Some days will be very focused, where I can put on some ear-buds and crank out code. Other days will be back-to-back meetings or presentations, where I’ll be learning about MongoDB’s history or theoretical concepts about databases or road mapping my project for the next week. And I can’t forget the fun! A typical week always has a bunch of great events, from smaller game nights to larger company outings, such as to indoor skydiving, Giants games, or go-karting. The intern coordinators really out-do themselves. What do you love most about MongoDB? Definitely how much I’ve learned. I can say without exaggeration that I learned more about databases during onboarding than an entire semester of the class. But it’s more than just coding chops: Watching the ins-and-outs of a startup has been fascinating. For me, it’s easy at school to be stuck in a narrow path of problem solving—improving runtimes, cleaning code, etc.—but the challenges outside of code are usually not so neat and controlled. Hearing about the problems of marketing, finance, design, and HR has been incredibly illuminating for so much work we take for granted. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? Adapting and learning on the fly is definitely something I need to work on more. In school, we have a general sense that a right answer exists, and what it should look like. In engineering in the real world, however, there aren’t necessarily the right answers in the back of the book. Now as an engineering intern, my main challenge isn’t finding the right answer, but rather figuring out whether a problem is feasible, what the solution looks like, and whether it’s worth my time. And this isn’t an easy process. During the course of the summer, as I learned and tested different languages and programs, my project had to change and sometimes backtrack as I adapted. What’s do you hope to accomplish while you’re here? The cool thing about Cluster Bingo was that I got the start it from scratch—decisions for structuring the code, as well as library and language decisions, were all mine. So my goal wasn’t necessarily to rush out a fully functional version. Instead I wanted to think about what are its long-term goals, and how to design it in such away that enabled the growth and continuation of the project after I leave. What’s your favorite Seamless lunch order? Definitely any sandwich from the Ace of Sandwiches. Name one secret skill you have, unrelated to work. I’m a really mean baker. Literally. Apparently I get really bossy, but my cakes also are fantastic. Where do you want to be in five years? I picked this question because, well, as a rising college senior it’s kind of on my mind a lot. The honest answer is “I don’t know,” but I can say that one way or another I know I’ll be programming. Which isn’t necessarily to say I’ll be a software engineer: The past few months, I’ve realized that I can use code within any of my interests—advocating social and economic justice, product design and user interfaces, and even my original major of biology and bioengineering. Given how much my interests and skills have changed in the past five years, it’s impossible for me to really know where I’ll be in the upcoming five. All I hope is to somehow find a way to combine some or all of my interests through coding, whether that’s through a software company, start-up, or NGO. Kindle or book? What’s your favorite book? I haven’t read anything on Kindle yet, so I’m going to have to say books. However, the moment Amazon figures out how to give Kindles that old-book smell, I might have to give it a shot. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite book, but the one that I always find myself rereading is the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson. His illustrations and paneling are gorgeously done, and he has a great ability of capturing little, human interactions in his characters. Every time I read it I find something new. Describe your perfect weekend. Wake up Saturday morning and start off with hiking or the gym. Then I like going up to a museum in San Francisco: The Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park never gets old. Afterward, catching up with friends over dinner, before going out for the night or hanging out at their apartments. The next morning usually entails people watching in the park, and finally settling into a book on the train ride home.
A Hub for Eco-Positivity
In this guest blog post, Natalia Goncharova, founder and web developer for EcoHub — an online platform where people can search for and connect with more than 13,000 companies, NGOs, and governmental agencies across 200-plus countries — describes how the company uses MongoDB to generate momentum around global environmental change. There is no denying that sustainability has become a global concern. In fact, the topic has gone mainstream. A 2021 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows a 71% rise in the popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years. The report “measures engagement, awareness and action for nature in 27 languages, across 54 countries, covering 80% of the world’s population.” The EIU report states that the sustainability trend is accelerating in developing and emerging countries including Ecuador and Indonesia. For me, it’s not a lack of positive sentiment that is holding back change; it is our ability to turn ideas and goodwill into action. We need a way of harnessing this collective sentiment. In 2020, the decision to found EcoHub and devote so much time to it was a difficult one to make. I had just been promoted to team leader at work, and things were going well. Leaving my job with the goal of helping to protect our environment sounded ridiculous at times. Many questions raced through my mind, the most insistent one being: Will I be able to actually make a difference? However, as you’ll see in this post, my decision was ultimately quite clear. What is EcoHub? When I created EcoHub, my principal aim was to connect ecological NGOs and businesses. Now, EcoHub enables users to search a database of more than 10,000 organizations in more than 200 countries. You can search via a map or keyword. By making it easier to connect, EcoHub lets users quickly build networks of sustainably minded organizations. We believe networks are key to spreading good ideas, stripping out duplication, and building expertise. Building the platform has been a monumental task. I have developed it myself over the past few months, acting as product manager, project manager, and full-stack developer. (It wouldn’t be possible without my research, design, and media teams as well.) During the development of the EcoHub platform on MongoDB, the flexible schema helped us edit and add new fields in a document because the process doesn’t require defining data types. We had a situation in which it was necessary to change the schema and implement changes for all documents in the database. In this case, modifying the entire collection with MongoDB didn’t take long for an experienced developer. Additionally, MongoDB’s document-oriented data model works well with the way developers think. The model reflects how we see the objects in the codebase and makes the process easier. In my experience, the best resource to find answers when I ran into a question or issue was MongoDB documentation . It provides a good explanation of almost anything you want to do in your database. Search is everything In technical terms, my choices were ReactJS, NodeJS, and MongoDB. It is the latter that is so important to the effectiveness of the EcoHub platform. Search is everything. The easier we can make it for individuals or organizations to find like minds, the better. I knew from the start that I’d need a cloud-based database with strong querying abilities. As an experienced developer, I had previous experience with MongoDB and knew the company to be reliable, with excellent documentation and a really strong community of developers. It was a clear choice from the start. Choosing our partners carefully is also important. If EcoHub is to build awareness of environmental issues and foster collaboration, then we must ensure we make intelligent choices in terms of the companies we work with. I have been impressed with MongoDB’s sustainability commitments , particularly around diversity and inclusion, carbon reduction, and its appetite for exploring the way the business has an impact globally and locally. EcoHub search is built on the community version of MongoDB , which enables us to work quickly, implement easily and deliver the right performance. Importantly, as EcoHub grows and develops, MongoDB also allows us to make changes on the fly. As environmental concerns continue to grow, our database will expand. MongoDB enables our users to search, discover, and connect with environmental organizations all over the world. I believe these connections are key to sharing knowledge and expertise and helping local citizens coordinate their sustainability efforts. Commitment to sustainability When it came down to it, the decision to build EcoHub wasn’t as difficult as I initially thought. My commitment to sustainability actually started when I was young: I can remember myself at 8 years old, glued to the window, waiting for the monthly Greenpeace magazine to arrive. Later, that commitment grew as I went to university and graduated with a degree in Environmental Protection and Engineering. Soon after, I founded my first ecology organization and rallied our cityagainst businesses wanting to cut down our beautiful city parks. Starting EcoHub was a natural and exciting next step, despite the risks and unknown factors. I hope we can all join hands to create a sustainable future for ourselves, our children, and our animals and plants, and keep our planet beautiful and healthy. MongoDB Atlas makes operating MongoDB a snap at any scale. Determine the costs and benefits with our cost calculator .