Oh boyyyyyyyyyy, was that a fun 4 months spent in California! Don't think I had this much fun in a long long time. Definitely not since the beginning of the pandemic. Honestly this was such a great change of environment after being stuck at home for 20 months! It felt so weird to do mundane things like walking in crowds and eating in a restaurant. It definitely took some getting used to. After 20 months of basically zero human interaction, I feel like I forgot what it's like being with groups of people. I know this sounds dramatic, but this was exactly how I felt for the first week or so.
Man there's so much to talk about and I don't really know where to start. I was reading some of the past blog posts I wrote, and I realized how much the content revolved around the pandemic. I guess it's understandable given that it was the reason why I was staying home for so long. But this time I hope to change things up a bit (at least as much as I can!).
Interning at Databricks 🧱
Before I talk about my experience, let's talk about how I first heard about Databricks. It actually goes all the way back to late 2019 when my friend Andrew was telling me about his upcoming winter '20 internship. Andrew and I were actually roommates in Vancouver during the summer of 2019. Although, admittedly, I don't think I actually took interest in Databricks back then because I didn't really know what it was all about (def a mistake). Fast forward to the summer of 2021 when I was applying for jobs, suddenly the name Databricks started popping up on my radar a lot. I heard people talking about how it's got really great talent and solid engineering culture. And of course, people were talking about its IPO potentials as well. Given my competitive mindset, I thought I'd give it a shot. While the interviews were definitely on the harder side, but I think the questions asked were reasonable. As in, they don't really require many "ah-ha" moments. Which I really appreciate.
I was pretty fortunate to be the only intern that had their mentor in office since the beginning of the internship. I think no amount of conferencing software can beat a tap on the shoulder and asking for help that way. My mentor was not only helpful, but also is just a great person to befriend with. As an intern, I'm usually more energic than most people on the team, but it was different this time. My mentor Apurva had energy, good vibes, and good humor at the same time. Needless to say, I really had a blast working with him and the team.
Unlike previous internships, I spent the majority of the internship working on open source software. Meaning that I can really dig deep into what I worked on. But because I'm lazy and that I don't like writing about the same thing twice, you should just read about the work that I did regarding custom model evaluation in MLflow on the official blog (that I authored, weird flex, I know, but allow it 😉).
I think I got exposure to a pretty wide range of tasks that my team is responsible for. This range from working in the open source MLflow repository in Python to the Databricks proprietary MLflow backend written in Scala. While there were a decent amount of work, I never really felt overwhelmed or stressed. At least from my experience, the WLB on my team is pretty solid.
Work work things aside, interning at Databricks in the winter has the benefit of attending CKO (company kick off). This year's event was the first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic. And I think the company offered all of its employees around the world to fly to Anaheim for the event (hotel, transportation, food, etc. paid for). Definitely had a lot of fun there. To give you a sense for the scale of the event:
Yeah, it was pretty insane. The entire event was insanely well organized, with daily COVID screening, food, clear schedules, etc. Oh oh I also got a picture with our CTO Matei! If you don't know, he's the guy that made Apache Spark! He's also a UWaterloo Alumni!!!
Sooo I was late to a data science org after party, and it just so happens that Matei was also late. So we shared the same elevator. And you know I can't miss this chance of getting a photo :))). Glad that I asked! In the 1/1,000,000 chance that Matei you are reading this, I just wanna say I'm a big fan :D!
Aside from this absolute blast of a company conference, us interns were taken to a Warrior's game. This was my first time going to an NBA game. I think it was also Stephen Curry's birthday. And as expected, he carried and took the DUBB!
Hanging Out With Friends
Kind of cliché to say, but what made this internship term more memorable compared to others was the friends I made along the way. I don't think I felt this connected to everyone in the cohort compared to any of the previous terms. And it wasn't just limited to interns, I also become friends with a bunch of full-timers. Rather than me verbally describing the many places that we visited, I will show you a short Vlog I made:
Don't forget to smash that like button and click that bell icon to make sure you won't miss any future uploads. LMAO haha I had to do the obligatory YouTuber speech. For reals though, video editing is such an exhausting task. That 5 minute video, took me 5 hours to edit. Albeit I'm a video editing noob. But I hope you know that I tried really hard to make the transitions to be on sync with the beats of the music.
Usually I would continue to give more details about all the fun stuff I did during this term. But it was all kind of summarized in the Vlog so I'm gonna save you some time reading. Here's a group photo with the BOYZ:
All in all I had such a packed 4-months stay in SF. Met so many great people. Had so much fun.
Anyways, thank you for reading and I hope you stay safe, healthy, and happy!