Internships at Precocity Part 2: The Interns’ Experience

Ali de Jong’s Experience:

I began the summer working with David Gillen on a big data project at a major retailer. During that project, we attempted to identify unique customers by grouping attributes recorded from interactions with the store. In the short 6-week span I was there, we were able to re-structure the graph of this data in a way that allowed us to transform the graph from around 2TB to approximately 11GB, which considerably sped up computations. We also worked on discerning a metric in order to tell how well our groupings modeled reality. This was especially difficult because we had no labeled data to compare our groupings. Prior to this position, I had never worked with big data. Through this project, I learned a lot about graph theory, distributed algorithms, patience when running operations on massive data sets, and using Apache Spark in Scala. The analysis and exploration I was able to do was incredible and it was a great experience to have access to, and work with, a large data-set.

I spent the second half of the summer on a project at an international tax and accounting firm. Yuriy and I worked closely with two other interns on an application, which allows users to submit semantic details about the tax form validation failure messages, in order to make them more readable. This application was a proof of concept that ended up in production. Our goal was to refactor this application to make it production ready. In order to refactor on that scale, we had to come to a deep understanding of how everything worked and how to improve upon it. Our main contributions consisted of making the application adhere to domain driven design principles and making the API more RESTful. I greatly deepened my knowledge of Java through the work with the back end that I worked on to re-structure classes, separate controllers and services, and write tests. In addition, I picked up AngularJS through my work with the front end, making calls to the more RESTful API. During our time at the tax firm, I also trained in how to run an agile team using Scrum practices. We self-managed our team by switching who served as scrum master, after each of our week-long sprints.

I would absolutely recommend this internship to a friend. I would tell them that if they are at all interested in tech consulting they ought to try it out. I was surprised by how different consulting is from working at a tech company, even when the projects are similar. I think the biggest surprise of this internship to me, was how different the culture between the two offices was. As a consultant, it is your job to flow with the company culture and, even in a short period, it was interesting to see how two different organizations behave. However, despite being spread across many clients, the community of Precocity is really astounding and I’m grateful to have met each one of you that I have. I love the willingness everyone displayed to support and help one another. Everyone at Precocity is willing to serve as a source for one another, and that only makes each one of us stronger.

Yuriy Minin’s Experience:

When I first met Jacob and Jonathan at HackDFW this past year, I never expected to be working with them over the summer. My time at Precocity was filled with exciting work in a couple of different areas of technology that I was completely new to. My job this summer was prototyping a micro-services platform for a major retailer, which was an amazing experience working with some of the newest design principles in the software industry. Then, I got to work with an existing team at an international tax and accounting firm on an internal logging tool. (It’s way cooler than it sounds I promise!)

I had to do a lot of stuff that was really new to me in a lot of ways and so I was asked to write this blog post about my experience here over the summer. For the longest time, I didn’t know what I was going to say, but I thought I would focus on the most important thing I think I learned during my time there: how to be a good engineer while working on a team. 

At the retailer, I worked with a pretty small group of people. I only interacted with three to four other engineers on my project team. It was a really close knit group of people and I’m glad that I got to work with such excellent engineers. Our work flow was very relaxed and casual. I would report daily to my mentor, Rajiv, and he would help me out whenever I was stuck on a tough problem (disappointingly often). From Rajiv, I learned how to stay cool in tough situations. I saw him be absolutely swamped with work from a huge project, and I could tell he was stressed out, but he still somehow found time to help me out with my own problems and he never once seemed like he wasn’t in total control. I learned how to be helpful to my coworkers and remain optimistic, even in the toughest of situations. However, my time at the retailer was an interesting comparison to the second half of the summer, when I was suddenly forced to join an existing team with strict planning practices.

During the second half of the summer, I ended up doing a lot more of what most people consider when they think of a “consultant.” Along with Ali, I was added to an existing team at the tax firm where we had to work with other interns on refactoring an old project that had somehow made it to production as a POC. We had to figure out how we were going to restructure the existing code to make it more readable and completely change the external endpoints to follow best practice design principles. Working with this team was so weird for me though! We suddenly had weekly sprint planning sessions, and followed strict scrum practices. (I even spent a week as a scrum master myself!) Here, I was also reunited with Jacob and Jonathan who were the first people we met from Precocity back at HackDFW! It was really cool to work with them again in a professional setting, instead of panicking trying to finish our hackathon project in time to demo. At the tax firm, I learned how valuable it is to work well with others in a formal environment, and that scrum can be your friend too!

I loved the time that I spent at Precocity. I found what made me happy about working with technology and I made some amazing friends. So thanks for a great summer Precocity!