Ep. 122 The Intern Episode, Part 2
Cedric Clyburn: Welcome back to the podcast. We're really happy to have you here. My name's Cedric Clyburn and I'm the developer advocate intern here for the summer at MongoDB. And we're really, really excited to have you here for a special episode, an annual episode, actually, where we get to feature some of our interns and hear their stories from the summer. Things about what they've learned, challenges they've faced, and really what it means to be an intern at MongoDB. I've also got a co- host, a good friend, Natalie, the program manager for the campus team. And arguably, the reason that I'm here talking to you today. So Natalie, how are you and how's this summer been for you?
Natalie Chwalk: Yeah, I'm doing well, Cedric. Thank you so much for the intro. We are, like Cedric said, coming to you live from New York City. This is our headquarters. Actually in the podcast room, which to my surprise, Cedric didn't know that that existed. So I'm happy that we found this room. It's intern season here at MongoDB, which is never a dull moment, but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way. The interns always bring such a great energy to the office, which I love. And I'm super excited for this episode.
Cedric Clyburn: Same here, same here. Before getting to some of the interviews that I was able to do with the interns here in the office, I kind of want to learn more about you, Natalie. How did you get involved with MongoDB and what kind of things do you do as a campus team program manager at MongoDB?
Natalie Chwalk: Yeah, absolutely. So I joined MongoDB back in 2019, so almost a three year Mongoversary as we like to call it. And I've always loved working with students, working to help really transition from college to career. It's definitely one of my passions is mentoring people early on in their career. So naturally the campus role, the campus team, I kind of gravitated towards it. And so joined as a coordinator and then grew into the campus recruiter role and more recently took a more strategic role as a program manager. So making sure our internship program is a success, our new grad program is a success and just making sure our team is focusing on the right things. Yeah, and it's been an awesome experience here at MongoDB.
Cedric Clyburn: I can definitely vouch for that as well. And I can also vouch for the internship program being an incredible program as well. I know we've got an office here in New York City and we've also got some other interns in Barcelona, San Francisco, Dublin. Are there any other locations where MongoDB has offices?
Natalie Chwalk: Exactly. So we truly are a global internship program. Shout out to my San Francisco interns. We also have many of our interns here in the New York City headquarters. And then in EMEA, we have programs in Dublin, you mentioned Barcelona. We also have interns in Copenhagen. And then also for APAC, we have interns in India, as well as in Sydney. So it's amazing to see the culture, the interactions, and all the interns getting to know each other, even globally, which is cool.
Cedric Clyburn: Truly an international internship program and it's cool. I've been able to hop on Zooms with interns around the world and there's intern events that connect us all throughout the summer. So it's been incredible. And speaking of the internship, how many people applied for the summer 2022 internship program in total?
Natalie Chwalk: Yeah, so this number might seem shocking to you, but we actually had over 56,000 applicants.
Cedric Clyburn: Wow.
Natalie Chwalk: Which was incredible to see. And from that, we hired a little bit over 150 interns.
Cedric Clyburn: I don't even know what to say. I'm speechless to hear that number. That's crazy. Well, is there anything else that you really appreciate about the intern program and that you kind of want to highlight?
Natalie Chwalk: Yeah, absolutely. So if I had to, I guess, sum it up in a couple words or a couple phrases, I think some of the pillars of our internship program definitely have to be a focus on mentorship. So every intern has a team mentor that they can work with, as well as a campus team member who's a mentor for them for the summer, as well as possibly an Affinity group mentor. So you can join our employee resource groups, our Affinity groups for the summer, and also have some community building there as well. And then the other piece that I wanted to talk about was just our company value. So we really weave in the elements of embracing the power of difference with our interns. They are the future leaders of the company, our future new grads, our future leads. And so we want to make sure that while they're here, they feel like they belong and that they can bring their whole selves to work.
Cedric Clyburn: I love that. I'm really happy to hear that. And without further ado, let's kind of to get into some of the interviews that I was able to get with some of these interns. I reached out to a few different interns in the New York City office and captured some great audio on what these incredibly talented interns are doing for the summer. And I think you're going to find it, Natalie, very interesting because although most of the interns are, of course, software development interns, we have roles that cover over a dozen different functions. So I had the chance not only to talk to these software engineering interns, but also product management and also marketing. So it was really, really cool to hear their stories and what they've been working on throughout the summer. And we kind of get to cover the entire MongoDB product life cycle. So from the beginning to working on the software to marketing and everything associated with that. So let's take a listen to three interns and learn more about these real world projects that they're working on. Everything from Atlas features to product management and more. Hey everybody. So I'm in the studio right now with Rohan. How you doing today?
Rohan Chhaya: I'm doing pretty well. It's Friday today, so.
Cedric Clyburn: Hey, can't complain about a Friday for sure. So could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you're from, where you go to school?
Rohan Chhaya: Sure. So I'm Rohan Chhaya. I'm actually from the outside of Dallas in Texas and I attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Cedric Clyburn: Awesome. Awesome. So what kinds of work do you get to do as a software engineering intern and what kind of brought you to MongoDB?
Rohan Chhaya: Yeah, that's a great question. So I think you'll find that different interns have a lot of different experiences, which is great about Mongo. For me personally, my main work revolves around an intern project for the summer. For me, it's building out a new feature for users to use. I work on the drivers team, specifically the Swift driver, and that's how people interact with Mongo products like the server and Atlas. So just building out new features and products for users to use, but I've also been working on reporting and fixing minor bugs, looking at what user comments are on the repositories and then just contributing to team meetings, team stand ups, things like that. And then I have to say, I choose MongoDB because of honestly the people interaction that I got. In the recruiting process, I had a great time talking to engineers and real people as opposed to a lot of other companies where they just make you do coding challenges on a website. And I found that to be really valuable and that's why I chose here.
Cedric Clyburn: I agree completely. And I'm wondering, as you say that, were you working with Swift beforehand? Were you a Swift developer in the past?
Rohan Chhaya: No, actually. So my first day touching Swift code was the first day of the internship. So that's also a great thing about MongoDB. The team was super helpful with onboarding and the past couple of months have been really smooth, even though I've never touched the language.
Cedric Clyburn: That's incredible. I think one of my favorite things is just the amount of support that interns we get at MongoDB. Everyone's always down to help schedule time on your calendar, everything like that. Have there been any challenges while you've been working on these projects as an intern and maybe any takeaways that you've had?
Rohan Chhaya: Yeah, for sure. So I've definitely had my fair share of challenges here and there. I think the biggest thing is that a lot of the minor bugs or error messages you get are very Mongo specific just because of the nature of the code base and the infrastructure of the company. There's something called the unified test runner that drivers use that, again, is very Mongo specific. And so you can't just get up and Google the errors. Instead, you have to dig around the code base, ask your managers for help. And it's just a different approach to maybe traditionally building software.
Cedric Clyburn: That's a great point. And as we kind of wrap up the last month of our internship here, what's kind of been your favorite part and maybe what are you excited to present on as we do our final internship presentations next month?
Rohan Chhaya: Yeah, so actually I'm in the process of wrapping up a major part of that intern project I mentioned. So I'm excited to present that and then potentially release it in the next version release to customers. But beyond that, I'm also just excited to attend more intern events that the team has. And even this past week, the company has an internal hackathon called Skunkworks and I'm excited to present my project, actually this coming Monday, so that's coming up soon.
Cedric Clyburn: Fantastic. Can't wait for that. Well, thank you so much, Rohan, for being on the show. We really appreciate it. So I'm here in the studio with Sahi. Sahi, how are you doing today?
Sahi: I'm doing well. I've been working on a project that's been really exciting. How are you?
Cedric Clyburn: I'm good. Thanks so much for asking. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your school and what you study?
Sahi: Yeah, so I'm originally from Hightstown, New Jersey, which isn't too far from here, and I'm a rising senior in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. And here at MongoDB, I'm a product management intern on the Atlas growth team, which has been really exciting.
Cedric Clyburn: Awesome. Product management. So what kind of made you interested to pursue a career in PM and kind of what brought you to MongoDB as an intern?
Sahi: Yeah, great question. So in terms of why PM, there's a number of different reasons, but I'd say if I had to sum it up, I really love solving problems and building things and wearing different hats while doing that. I enjoy figuring out the what and the why. And I know that's a major focus for PMs based on what I've seen and my personal experiences. You're dealing with a lot of ambiguity, which can be frustrating at times, but it's a great opportunity to be analytical and creative. And I think it's extremely rewarding to work up with. It's something I get super excited about and kind of gets me going in the morning. So yeah, I just find it really exciting to take that what and the why as well, and even rally people around certain goals and vision, and I think that challenge is where it's at.
Cedric Clyburn: Awesome. Awesome. And how did you hear about MongoDB and what kind of brought you as an intern to be here this summer?
Sahi: Yeah, so I actually heard about MongoDB my freshman year when one of my mentors at UIUC, she's two years older than me, talked about her internship at MongoDB. So that's when I was like," Oh wow, this sounds like a great company." And I kind of checked it out. And then I also used MongoDB as a developer when I was developing with the MERN Stack. So I was already familiar with MongoDB before coming here, but in terms of why PM here at MongoDB, I think it's quite exciting because our end users are developers and they're people who love building products for different reasons and causes. And I know that our products help them build apps that are going to impact millions of people across the world. And I think that impact piece is what's key for me and it makes everything I'm doing here super exciting.
Cedric Clyburn: Absolutely. I'm really happy to hear about the impact part. I think that's a huge draw for all of us being here this summer. Have there been any challenges that you've had while working on projects this summer and maybe any takeaways that you've had from that?
Sahi: Yeah, definitely. I think something that I find challenging but really exciting is what I like to describe as zooming in and out. I think it's something that PMs have to do quite a bit. You're thinking about the market, product, users, so on and so forth, and then you're working on really specific projects. And that context switching can be challenging, but going with that natural flow and knowing when to zoom in and zoom out is helpful. When my thinking kind of shifts to one or the other, I'm trying not to pull myself back in a certain direction per se, and just kind of let it flow.
Cedric Clyburn: Well said. So kind of like a micro/ macro kind of perspective?
Sahi: Yeah, exactly.
Cedric Clyburn: Awesome. Well, what's been your favorite part about the internship?
Sahi: Yeah, great question. So I'm going to kind of touch on two things here. First, the people, and I know that sounds cliche, but I had heard great things about MongoDB culture during college, kind of from the mentor I mentioned, and I was blown away by how great everyone here is when I got here. And when I say great, I mean how personable people are, motivated, excited and passionate, not just about what they're working on, but what other people are working on as well and in the company as a whole. And I think that is what really surprised me and it was amazing to see. I just never expected to feel this connected, valued, and supported as an intern. So this has been amazing and something that I really value. And the second thing that I've loved about this internship is the work that I've been doing on the Atlas growth team. And that includes running an experiment that has a larger vision behind it, depending on the results that we see, and also doing some product research around one of our newer products that we announced at MongoDB World.
Cedric Clyburn: Oh, nice. And what product is that?
Sahi: Atlas CLI. So that's been super cool and I've just started doing some user interviews, so super excited to see what I gather.
Cedric Clyburn: Well, looking forward to that. And thank you so much for coming in today, Sahi. It's been a pleasure.
Sahi: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Really enjoyed this.
Cedric Clyburn: So we're in the studio right now with Paul. Paul, how's it going today?
Paul: It's going really well. The weather's a bit gloomy outside, thunder, lightning, but we have my coffee here, we got Cedric in the building, so I'm very happy to be here today.
Cedric Clyburn: Absolutely. Happy to hear that. Happy to hear that. I'm curious about where you're from and what school you go to.
Paul: Yeah, for sure. So I was born and raised in Queens, New York. So I'm a New York native. I've seen it all here in New York. I love it so much. I go to school at Baruch College, which is downtown, Midtown sort of, 23rd street. It's known to be a business school. And really, I love that school because I've gotten all of the grit and the hard work from that school. And my position here at Mongo is a field marketing intern.
Cedric Clyburn: Awesome. Awesome. So what kinds of work do you get to do as a field marketing intern and also what brought you to MongoDB?
Paul: Yeah, for sure. So I'll start off with the second one. I had a really close friend of mine who referred me to the position, which was originally strategic comms, which is my major, communications. But when I was going through the recruiting process, I got redirected to the field marketing position because a lot of my strengths and my experiences both professionally and then academically were in event planning, event creation. I've also took a couple of marketing classes, so that's helped me a lot throughout this journey. A little bit of what I do here. I feel like for the people listening, I'd love to touch on what field marketing does. So we are in charge of event planning, event creation, and then executing those events all with the goal to support our dev and our sales team. So we work very, very intensely with them on a reoccurring basis. The region that I am helping with is out in central. So my manager, Ellie, is based out of Austin and all of our work encompasses helping and enabling the sales team. So that's a bit of what we do, but going into the projects on a different note, my start here at Mongo on the very first week, I got started off at MongoDB World. From that start, I made a sales enablement blog as well.
Cedric Clyburn: Wow.
Cedric Clyburn: Yeah. They got you started fast.
Paul: Dude, they got me working, yes. So I made a blog post, just a piece, so our sales team can go back, put our content to leverage for their leads, their clients and partners as well. On a week by week, a lot of the projects I do vary. So I've worked on a champion building sales enablement program with my manager. I was at the AWS Summit recently.
Cedric Clyburn: Nice.
Paul: Also, at the boat party, which is pretty cool.
Cedric Clyburn: Ah, it's a cool experience.
Paul: Yeah, definitely. I kind of touch on all bases from the event side, but also from a marketing perspective, from the funneling perspective, and using data. So we kind of have our feet wet in all those aspects of what we do here at Mongo.
Cedric Clyburn: Fantastic. It sounds like you get to enjoy a lot of different parts of the whole Mongo ecosystem from a field marketing perspective. So that's really cool. Have there been any challenges that you've had throughout your internship that maybe have created some cool takeaways or learning lessons?
Paul: Yeah, for sure. So as we just mentioned, as a field marketing intern, I kind of have my feet wet on multiple projects. So I feel like the hardest part here I've had so far was kind of knowing where I can really push and grow both professionally and personally because I'm working on various projects. I think one of the things me and my mentor have talked about for our growth conversation has been finding out what I really enjoy. And that has been a little hard just because of the pacing of it all. It's a 10 week program here at Mongo, but that's a reason why I love it here. And then the people around me that I have is making that experience even better than what it is. But recently, I've been working on a marketing plan from scratch for one of our SIV partners. So with that, I think it's very hard to kind of reach out to the right people. I have a bit of imposter syndrome as an intern. Then again, I have that urge to do the best I can and to put smiles on people's faces, make my mentor's life easier. But I think that at the end of the day, it's been an overall really, really great experience. I've learned a lot. And through that, I've made some really great connections as well.
Cedric Clyburn: Absolutely. You really talked about the people and the culture and community, and I think that's been a really key highlight that we've heard throughout the past few interviews. And one of my last questions that leads into this is what's your favorite part about the internship or about the program in general?
Paul: For sure. I love that question, Cedric, because I do think that my experience and all of our experiences here at Mongo have been uniquely our own, but then we also share a lot of the team building and a lot of the learning development programs that they've tailored for us here. I've enjoyed both the technical and the non- technical learning experiences here, but at the end of the day, it's the people that make the company, even the interns that I've met. I've met great people. Hannah, Will, Richard, Maya, shout out to Cedric. It's the people that have made my experience great and that's my favorite part about working here at Mongo. And shout out to my mentor Ellie as well.
Cedric Clyburn: Lots of great shout outs there. Lots of great shout outs. Well, Paul, thank you so much for being on the show. We've got about two, three weeks left until our intern presentations so best of luck with that. And yeah, thank you so much.
Paul: Yeah. Thank you so much, Cedric, for having me on. This has been such a cool experience and this is what I work for, things like this.
Cedric Clyburn: Those were some incredible conversations there, hearing about the different projects and learning experiences some of the interns have had this summer. Now, I might be a little biased, but I would say this is probably the best intern class yet at MongoDB, and Natalie, I believe the largest?
Natalie Chwalk: Yes, definitely. This summer, it was our largest and most diverse intern class ever. And also, a little plug, we're really excited to announce we're already thinking about next summer's interns, believe it or not. So for everyone tuning in, please be on the lookout at mongodb. com/ careers. Our 2023 summer internship roles are going live in early September. So be on the lookout for that and we're excited to see your applications come in.
Cedric Clyburn: Well, thank you so much, Natalie, for being on the podcast. And of course, a huge shout out to the interns on this episode. We're really, really excited to see what lies ahead for them. Remember, as always, links are in the show notes. And also, please remember to review and subscribe and stay tuned for the next episode. For me, Cedric Clyburn.
Natalie Chwalk: And me, Natalie Chwalk, it's been a pleasure. Talk to you soon.
In this special episode, Developer Advocate intern Cedric Clyburn speaks with other interns at MongoDB about their experience and focus areas.
- [01:18] Natalie Chwalk, Campus Recruiting Program Manager
- [05:43] Rohan Chhaya, Developer intern
- [09:03] Sahi Muthyala, Atlas Growth Team intern
- [13:43] Paul Romo, Marketing intern