A Summer Internship at Zugata

To be initiated at Zugata’s and be welcomed to the team, everyone has their butts on the line (which you draw and then post it on the board). That means everyone is responsible for the company’s success.

One thing I’ve learned at Zugata is that when you work at a fast paced startup, you are basically riding a roller coaster. In the morning you may be happy because the previous day you had solved a difficult problem. Then, by the afternoon another problem arises and you realize there’s no way around it, so you say to yourself “f*** what are we going to do?”. It seems like a disaster, you walk around the office, think hard about different options, pick the best one, and then you get back on the zone and try it out. On a good day your solution will work out, you’ll feel smart and go home satisfied with yourself, but other times that option will completely fail so all you can do is go home and do some more thinking in the shower so that next day you can solve the problem.

That was a normal day at Zugata this summer, but as crazy as it seems, I feel lucky to have lived that experience — I was always learning new things and never in my comfort zone. The general goal of my internship was to build Zugata’s infrastructure for a new feature related to data analysis. At first, we looked into different graph databases like TitanDB, IBM Bluemix graph, and Datastax. We ended up choosing Datastax mainly because of its new and growing community, great development tools, standard query language, and performance. After picking Datastax as our graph database I spent most of my time building a Java application that manages user data imports and learns from new information. Finally, in the last couple of weeks I had time to use AWS Lambda for data analysis. That was a very interesting technical challenge because I applied everything I had just learned in school for the last 4 years about distributed systems and machine learning. I can say that my experiences as Zugata, such as using many different new technologies, thinking about the big picture, and designing a new system, pushed me to grow as an engineer.

On top of a great technical growth experience, at Zugata I had the opportunity to work with amazing people on an inspiring vision while having fun at the same time.

Here are some things I learned from everyone:

  • SK: care about others “man”, and watch your language in professional settings
  • Philippe: smile, trust others by default, and never host your own infrastructure
  • Jessica: always have presentations that spark important discussions
  • Kevin: speak your mind
  • Barrett: be on time for standup
  • Ruiqi: make things happen
  • Candice: understand, then be understood
  • Trevor: don’t be afraid of challenges
  • Evan: speak calmly, and be detail oriented

Also here are some highlights and I’ll quickly tell you the stories (please read the captions):

Around week 2 SK took us out for ice cream
Eating a little bit of Nutella
With Philippe
Final presentation

Great summer, thanks everyone!

Learn more about Zugata at zugata.com