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Meet MongoDB's 2021 Sydney Storage Engines Interns

Last December, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MongoDB Campus Team successfully completed a virtual recruitment season for the first time in the program’s history. An important part of those new recruits were the Sydney Storage Engines Team interns. Our Storage Engines team was created by way of acquisition and contributes to the performance, scalability, and hardware efficiency of MongoDB. We asked a few interns from this cohort about what their summer experience was like: from being onboarded in a virtual environment, to working with their mentors and peers in a hybrid capacity - they even had fun perks like a free subscription to the meditation app, Headspace! Read on to hear more about what they gained from their time with MongoDB. Natalie Chwalk: I'm very excited to learn about your experiences as interns! To begin, can you tell me a bit more about what you are studying, where you attend university, and a fun fact about yourself? My name is Clarisse, I am currently studying Software Engineering at Monash University. I'm a huge foodie who loves singing, playing guitar, reading books, and creative writing. My name is Siddhartha Mahajan (Sid), and my interest in computer programming began at a very early age of 15, which eventually led me to pursue a degree in Computer Science at Western Sydney University. Besides my interest in science, I also enjoy cooking and yoga. Hi, I'm Monica. I’m currently studying Computer Science and Finance at the University of New South Wales. I'm passionate about all things data and technology-related. I also enjoy reading, photography and learning new things! Hello my name is Sean and I'm a Computer Engineering student at the University of New South Wales. I have a passion for technology and enjoy tinkering with electronics in my spare time. I enjoy spending weekends doing various outdoor activities like sailing, hiking and spending time with my dog. Natalie Chwalk: Why did you decide to intern with MongoDB? Clarisse Cheah: Through the interview process, I felt drawn to MongoDB and the people who worked there. Everyone was so passionate, kind, and amazing to talk to. I learnt a lot and it felt like they were teaching me so much even through an interview. I also used MongoDB before in one of my projects at university, and was interested to work for the company behind its great product. Monica Ng: I have always been intrigued by the fields of data and software engineering, and the internship position with the team at MongoDB seemed like it would be a good fit. Whilst interviewing for the role, I also got a sense that the engineers had genuine interest in the product and enjoyed working through the technical challenges they were faced with. I felt that MongoDB would be a great place to gain practical software development experience, collaborate with an awesome team and learn more about highly technical areas such as databases and storage engines. Natalie Chwalk: What was the experience like working semi-remote? Clarisse Cheah: I did almost the entire internship remotely from Melbourne and only went for a visit to the office for the final two weeks. It was amazing how the culture could be felt even through Zoom calls, and how friendly and willing to help everyone on the team was. Sean Watt: Working at MongoDB semi-remotely has been a really great experience. I was initially hoping to be able to go into the office full-time but was prepared to work at home for the required days. Living far away from the office, I realized a mix of working in the office and working from home was a healthy balance. It saved on long commute times throughout the week but still provided important collaboration and face-to-face time. The team was also well set up for remote work using Slack, Zoom, JIRA and other tools which made working from home just as efficient. Natalie Chwalk: What is your favorite project you have worked on? Sean Watt: My favorite project I’ve worked on has been the column store project. We were first tasked with creating an example program to understand how a developer would use the column store API provided by WiredTiger. This eased us into the project and we were then able to work on adding support for column store, to new features that WiredTiger had recently implemented. Natalie Chwalk: How have your team and mentors helped you as an intern this summer? Clarisse Cheah: I had an amazing mentor - someone who's extremely kind, patient, and intelligent. He was constantly willing and ready to help me out, and never belittled me when I didn't know something, but rather, helped encourage me to better myself through honest feedback. He really cared for me and my personal wellbeing as a person, and we got along really well. I fully enjoyed the summer with him as my mentor. Sean Watt: My team and all the mentors have helped me and the other interns a great deal this summer. In the first few weeks, we had many demonstrations by various team members about the development process and tools used by the team. Our mentors then guided us through our first individual tasks and PRs. We then started work on our project and sought help from many of the team members. Everyone was eager to help and would often jump on a quick zoom call or meeting room with us to explain a concept or help us debug. Natalie Chwalk: What is the most interesting takeaway that you learned during your time at MongoDB? Sid Mahajan: The WiredTiger sessions gave me a theoretical understanding of various components of WiredTiger. All the sessions were extremely interesting, informative and useful. Additionally, I have gained a better understanding of utilizing the code collaboration tools, for example, GitHub and JIRA. Sean Watt: The most interesting thing I’ve learned in the internship has been the architecture of a storage engine. I went into the internship without clear definitions of what a storage engine was and how it differed to other parts of the database stack like the execution layer. At the beginning of the internship one of the engineers took a session each day to introduce us to the architecture of WiredTiger. These were immensely informative and gave us a thorough overview of how the storage engine works. Monica Ng: Learning about how databases and storage engines are built, as well as the underlying architecture of WiredTiger was very interesting for me. This internship was also my first exposure to software engineering in an industry setting, and I learned that the software engineering workflow involves a lot more than just coding. It also entails meetings to discuss various projects and initiatives with engineers, leads, and program and product managers, designing and scoping out new projects, sprint planning, as well as sprint retrospectives to reflect on how we have been progressing. Natalie Chwalk: How would you sum up the culture here at MongoDB? Sid Mahajan: MongoDB has an incredible work culture. The people are highly qualified and are always willing to help, and the work is quite exciting. Clarisse Cheah: The culture here is without a doubt amazing. It's so rare to find a company where everyone is passionate about the product they work on, willing and eager to impart their knowledge, and so genuinely caring towards the people around them. Everyone here makes you feel empowered and appreciated as a part of the team, and it really urges you to learn more and strive for greater heights. Natalie Chwalk: What was your favorite part about interning with MongoDB? Clarisse Cheah: The people I've met here and the things I've learned throughout make tough competition for the top spot. I've learned so much through the people I've met, and both have been nothing short of amazing. I've worked on things that were meaningful and actually added value to the company, so that was very cool. So many great conversations, and so much imparted wisdom and knowledge. I'll never forget it. Monica Ng: My favorite parts about interning at MongoDB are the people, the strong engineering culture and the size/stage that the company is in. The people here are very open and supportive, and genuinely want to help you grow and learn. MongoDB has established strong engineering practices and whilst it is still experiencing high growth, it is still at a size where your contributions can have a meaningful impact. Interested in interning at MongoDB? Our 2021/2022 Software Engineering Summer Internship for Sydney is now live and accepting applications for students with Australian/New Zealand citizenship or Australian Permanent Residency. We have several other open roles on our team and would love for you to transform your career with us!

July 2, 2021

Intern Series: MongoDB’s Women in Computer Science Summit to MongoDB’s Swift

Nellie Spektor is a rising senior Computer Science major at New York University. She spent this summer at MongoDB interning with our Swift Driver team. Nellie will be returning to MongoDB full time in 2021 to join our New Grad cohort. Kate Wright: Thanks for chatting with me Nellie! Let’s start with how you first got exposed to Computer Science and what made you decide to pursue the CS major at NYU. Nellie Spektor: I was lucky enough to go to a high school where everyone had to take Intro to Computer Science their sophomore year and had the option to continue taking Computer Science classes all the way through to graduation. I loved that very first intro class. I had so much fun writing little functions and coding up little games, and I knew that I had found my calling. I kept taking CS classes and being amazed at how powerful coding could be, becoming a CS major was a no-brainer. KW: You’re a part of many groups that aim to create opportunities for women in the field Computer Science. Tell me about those and a little bit about your experience of pursuing Computer Science as a woman. NS: Being a woman in Computer Science has been something I have been thinking about ever since that first CS class I took in high school. I think if it weren't for the fact that the class was mandatory (and therefore had a fairly even gender split), I may have gotten discouraged and quit coding. I came fairly close to this when I got to AP Computer Science which only had 7 girls out of 34 students. The only things that kept me from quitting was that I had the memories of having so much fun in my previous CS classes, and my one female friend in the class. That friend and early exposure were key for me, and many other women never get that, which is why we see such terrible gender ratios in Software Engineering. To try and fix this immense problem and help my fellow women getting into CS, I have been a member and later a leader in two incredible women in tech organizations: Rewriting the Code and NYU Women in Computing. Being in these organizations has given me access to incredible opportunities. If I recall correctly, it was actually through a post in the Women of Rewriting the Code Facebook group that I learned about the MongoDB Women in Computer Science Summit and started on the journey that led me to my amazing internship this summer. KW: Speaking of MongoDB’s Women in Computer Science Summit, I’d love to hear about that experience and how you decided to spend your summer at MongoDB NS: I was selected to attend the very first iteration of the MongoDB Women in Computer Science Summit! The Summit gave me the opportunity to participate in technical development, mock interviews, and a panel discussion with women in engineering at MongoDB all while networking with my peers at colleges across the country. It was such an amazing event that I am so lucky to have been a part of. After going through the recruiting process, the summit was one of the reasons I decided to join MongoDB. Through that event, the interview process, and my connections with former interns, I got to interact with a lot of MongoDBers and could truly see myself working happily with all of them. Even through interning here, I have never had a negative interaction with or even a negative thought about someone at MongoDB, and that is pretty awesome. KW: Glad to hear that! Let’s hear about some of those MongoDBers you worked with. What is your team like? NS: I am interning on the Swift Driver team, which has been awesome! The Drivers team provides libraries and tools that developers all over the world use to interface with MongoDB. The Swift driver is a relatively new team and its very small (only 2 full-time engineers). My team is part of the larger team that encompasses all the Drivers. I have been taking some classes about Programming Languages at school, and while this isn't a major aspect of my work, it is really cool to bring those interests into conversations with my team. It is really interesting to see all of these different drivers achieving the same goals, each in a way that takes advantage of their specific language features. KW: What did you work on with the driver and what was your intern experience like working remotely? NS: My main project this summer was adding Extended JSON support to the pure-Swift BSON Library. All of the drivers need to use a BSON library to interact with MongoDB. Currently, the Swift Driver is using libbson, which is the C BSON Library, and as part of an effort to make the Swift driver be written only in Swift, the team is working on a pure-Swift BSON library. The last piece necessary to actually switch from libbson to the swift BSON library is Extended JSON Support, and that's what I worked on! I added the ability to convert between BSON and Extended JSON. It was a perfect intern project; well scoped, but left room for me to make my own design decisions. I have learned a lot about what it means to work on an open source project and be involved in the ecosystem of a language. That has been really cool and I am excited to dive deeper into this world. Even despite the fact that my internship was entirely remote, I was really able to get a sense of the culture at MongoDB and I love how open, fun, and feedback focused it is! Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!

December 15, 2020

Intern Series: From Ecuador, to the University of Toronto, to MongoDB - Meet Jose Cabrera-Ormaza

Jose Cabrera-Ormaza is in the process of completing his final year in computer engineering at the University of Toronto. He spent this summer interning on the MongoDB Realm team. I recently sat down with Jose to discuss his goals as a software engineer and his experience at MongoDB. Kate Wright: Thanks for spending some time with me Jose! I know you discovered programming as an undergrad. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to pursue a career in software engineering? Jose Cabrera-Ormaza: I decided to study software engineering because I want to challenge and change the world’s perception of countries such as my home country of Ecuador and South America generally in the context of tech. When people speak about South America, they say great things about our food, landscapes, culture, and more, which makes me extremely proud. However, I would love to help the tech industry grow in South America. I admire the Ecuadorian mining industry, and I originally came to the University of Toronto on a scholarship to study mineral engineering. However, in my second term of university, I took my first-ever programming course, which completely changed my perspective and goals. Before taking that course, I had no idea computers could be used to write programs. I didn’t grow up with a personal computer of my own and had no exposure to software engineering. After writing my first few programs (which were terrible, by the way), I saw the potential impact software engineering could have both in my life and in changing economies of nations such as Ecuador. I would personally love to increase the amount of tech exposure students receive in certain regions of South America where students like myself have limited access to technology. I want students in Ecuador to know they can be the engineers behind some of the newest technological breakthroughs and inventions. KW: Wow, that’s a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. I know you see internships as an opportunity to further develop your software engineering skills, but what made you decide to spend a summer at MongoDB? JCO: To start with, MongoDB University! I’m extremely passionate about education and free access to knowledge. I was excited to join MongoDB because I felt that my values and beliefs align with MongoDB’s commitment to providing a free learning platform. Additionally, I really wanted to join a company that builds and develops cutting-edge technology used by other software engineers. MongoDB is a modern database platform offering a document data model that developers love compared to legacy database technologies that haven’t changed much in 50 years. I wanted to be a part of the database revolution with MongoDB. KW: This summer, you worked on one of those cutting-edge technologies used by other software engineers. Can you share a bit about your team and what you worked on? JCO: I interned on the Realm Cloud Team. Realm is MongoDB’s back end as a service offering. It allows users to focus less on building a back-end architecture on their own, and to focus more on building other aspects of their project. Realm Cloud offered me the chance to work on very interesting projects and to learn a lot. I had the chance to work alongside a fellow intern and my mentor to build a transpiler microservice. The microservice processes and transpiles user-uploaded JavaScript dependencies. On top of the aforementioned, we optimized the performance of this microservice by introducing concurrent processing. We implemented this project both in Node.js and in Go. The project was challenging and felt complete in that it required more than just writing code. Because we built the microservice in two languages, we established unit testing and performance testing, had to analyze and compare our performance results, and had to use critical thinking to draw conclusions on which implementation might fit our needs best. It was incredibly rewarding to have the chance to freely experiment and do much more than just write code. KW: What did you enjoy most about your summer at MongoDB? JCO: Just having had the opportunity to be at MongoDB makes me feel really proud and accomplished. I’ve loved the opportunity to learn from very talented and brilliant people, and I’m talking not only about technical skills, but also in terms of diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and ideas. One of MongoDB’s core values is “Build Together,” and it seems that everyone I met at the company lives and applies that value to everything they do. Everyone here really wants you to grow both personally and professionally. My teammates and mentors were always available to help and share knowledge. Finally, throughout the intern events and the speaker series, I found out that many people in the company in leadership and managerial positions started out as interns a few years ago. That’s a perfect example of how MongoDB fosters and values everyone at any level in the company! KW: Is there anything you’d like to share with future MongoDBers reading this blog? JCO: As someone who is considered part of an underrepresented group in STEM, I came to MongoDB with the mindset that I had to change who I am to fit into the tech industry, but I have found the exact opposite to be true. For those who have felt they don’t belong in STEM or have experienced imposter syndrome, I’d like to tell you to battle those feelings and keep pursuing your goals. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!

December 8, 2020