This summer I got the incredible experience of interning at Splunk!!!
There are so many different things I could write about from my experience, but lemme just big a couple main ones:
1) Big vs Small
(or more accurately mid-sized company vs startup, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it)
2) CI/CD + CL!
(Continuous Integration and Development + Continuous Learning!)
Part 1: Big Company vs Small Company
My last internship was at a startup (see more about it here), and the onboarding process was many miles away from the way it was at Splunk. To introduce myself at the startup, I could literally just say “Hi!” loud enough and everyone in the 1-floor office would hear me. But Splunk has close to 5 thousand employees across the world!
Understandably this leads to quite a different experience. Everyday, I have the opportunity to meet someone new. I have the chance to meet people with so many different interests. Almost like a college, there are also different special-interest clubs and organizations and even an online hub for announcements for special events.
For reference, here are just a few of the Slack channels for meeting fun people:
To introduce myself here, I basically had to create an online internal profile/introduction page on Confluence so other employees could look me up!
Confluence was just one of the many internal tools l got to work with. With a bigger company, there are a lot more moving parts and thus, new tools used to manage them. As of 2019 pretty much every company uses Slack, which I used last year. But I didn’t work with all of its features until now. For every company task, there is a tool to learn and take advantage of:
Meetings: Outlook calendar, Zoom video conferencing, Bookem room bookings
Sharing content: Bitbucket, GitLab, Confluence, Google Drive
Engaging: DRIVE Goals (keep track of personal career goals), Pwny Portal (like a Splunk-specific social media), Benevity (volunteer tracking)
Travel: Nexonia, Egencia
Some of them get especially important since Splunk is a multinational company. Pretty much all meetings I had as part of the Machine Learning team are done over Zoom to coordinate between offices in Vancouver, San Francisco, and the Bay Area. Not to mention other teams which also coordinate between offices in Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Seattle, Amsterdam, London, Dubai, and so many more which you can see here: https://www.splunk.com/en_us/careers/where-we-work.html
This also means the opportunity to travel! I got to visit Vancouver, Canada (making good use of the tools like Nexonia and Egencia!) for a week! I loved the trip for quite a few reasons.
- I got to meet all the colleagues I had spent time talking to only over Zoom calls before, face to face
- I loved the feeling of independence I got from going through the process of international travel on my own for the first time
- After work, I was free to explore the city–trying out cool new places to eat and visiting some of Vancouver’s famous parks and nature destinations
This trip was really amazing and I wrote all about it here (link)
Big events like the HackWeek are amazing, but there were also a ton of cooler, more low-key events like Pil-Am Pyesta, ConteCon, and multiple guest speaker events.
Summary: At a larger/midsized company you…
- Meet sooooo many more new people (including those with your niche interests!)
- Have a lot more office-related tools to learn
- Get the opportunity to travel
- Fun events!
Part 2: CI/CD + CL!
Continuous Integration and Development + Continuous Learning
CI/CD is a common term at a lot of companies for Continuous Integration and Development. Instead of having just one release of a product, many companies are adapting a policy of continuous updating and improving their product as they go, aiming for a faster turnaround.
But what I wanna talk about is CL–Continuous Learning (to my knowledge this is not a legit term, but bear with me here) I absolutely love the culture of continuous learning here.
I think there’s this false perception that you just learn a bunch in college and then apply it all without needing to learn more after you graduate. That is dead wrong.
The world is evolving so fast–there are new skill sets required for the job market every single year. Splunk gets that (as I’m sure many other companies do) and provided time, space, and tools for me to keep learning. On top of the formal fact that we have free access to Lynda/LinkedIn learning, there’s also an informal culture which is many ways is much more valuable.
The Machine Learning team organized a weekly study group where we would decide on a research paper for the week and get together every Thursday to discuss it as a group.
I found this to be particularly effective, especially in the specific context of ML research.
If you get stuck understanding an ML paper, you normally can’t just Google it or look to other resources. Simply by the nature of it being cutting-edge material, the original paper is often the only explanation on that particular topic. Having other people invested in learning with you is invaluable. You can answer each others questions, but also pose new questions and bring attention to parts others may have overlooked or interpreted differently.
Summary: Keep Learning and Learn Together!