Josh Steigerwald Internship Experience
October 19, 2021
About the author: Josh is currently a senior at Stony Brook University, where he pursues studies in computer science and finance. Having spent most of his life fascinated by technology and pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors from a young age, he hopes to leverage his computer science skills and business savvy to make his mark in the tech world.
Over the past summer, I had the pleasure of working as a Software Engineer Intern at Actian. It was an incredible experience—one of learning, growth, and excitement. Continue below to follow along my journey!
Before my internship even began, my learning started. Knowing that I’d be working with Scala and Apache Spark, I set out to show up with these tools under my belt. To accomplish this, I took a course on Udemy, read books, and practiced…a lot. By the time I had completed my first week at Actian, I felt confident in my abilities to work with these tools. I was ready to get to work!
Okay…maybe I wasn’t really ready to get to work. Orientation aside, the first week or two was a bit of a challenge. Let’s just say; you don’t know what you don’t know until you know that you don’t know it. Does that make sense? Not really? My point is, there was a lot of learning to do— from getting my development environment set up, to working with new tools and languages, to trying to understand existing codebases, everything was new to me. This was an overwhelming feeling, and at the time, I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to figure it all out. Looking back now, it’s remarkable to me exactly how much I’ve learned in just 12 weeks. That’s something that speaks to the quality of the Actian internship experience.
My job as an intern was to develop a prototype implementation of the Apache Spark Data Source V2 API to replace the existing Data Source V1 API implementation in the Spark-Vector Connector project. Once I had gotten past the learning stage in the first few weeks, I began developing the prototype implementation. This was a process that involved a lot of research and patience. After week 7, I finally saw my work come to life—I had a working implementation!
This was an exciting milestone that I was extremely excited to share with those who supported me throughout the internship. On that note…
Perhaps the greatest part of my internship experience was all of the support I had. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet with my internship “buddy” daily, but I also had an incredible amount of support from the HR team here at Actian. From weekly 1:1 meetings to discuss my internship progress, to fun intern events where I had the opportunity to meet with other interns and unwind for a bit, the HR team provided me with every ounce of support and encouragement I needed to be successful.
After my initial accomplishment of seeing my implementation working, I continued to develop more features to complete one functionality (reading data) of the Data Source V2 API. By week 9, I was ready to benchmark my implementation. This was a point in the project that really opened my eyes up to the challenges that are faced in real-world software development situations. Simply put, no matter what I tried, I could not run my benchmark queries on large enough amounts of data to come to any concrete conclusions. It seems the culprit of this was a resource-starved laptop—something that could have been worked around rather easily under normal circumstances. However, given the nature of the internship and the time constraints that accompany it, a workaround was not in the cards. As a result, benchmarking was abandoned and I moved on to continue implementing features of the Data Source V2 API with the little time I had left at Actian.
One of the most notable aspects of my internship was working not only remotely, but internationally—I’m on the east coast of the U.S., while my team was based in Germany. When I was starting my day, my team was just about to end theirs. This was a bit of a challenge, but also an opportunity for immense growth. Because of this challenge, my skills in researching and developing solutions to problems on my own were greatly sharpened. On top of that, I found it very valuable to be working for a company with such a diverse, global reach.
Towards the last few weeks of my internship, much attention was given to my capstone project presentation. This was a wonderful opportunity to present my work to the company and showcase my accomplishments. On top of that, it helped me to gain confidence in my presentation skills. Having this opportunity made it possible for me to complete my internship with a true sense of pride and accomplishment.
Overall, my experience as an intern at Actian has been one that I will always remember. I’ve gained knowledge, skills, and forged valuable connections. For these reasons and many more, Actian will always hold a special place in my heart!
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an intern for Actian, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will begin recruiting for the 2022 summer program soon, so we encourage you to send your resume today!
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