My Time as an Intern at DataStax | DataStax Academy: Free Cassandra Tutorials and Training

My name is Ryan Kelly, I study Computing at the University of Ulster, Coleraine and I was an intern in the EMEA technical support team at DataStax.

5thJune 2017 was my first day at DataStax.

Where do I begin…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Working at DataStax is nothing like what I expected, and over the past year I have gained experiences that I will never forget. I have met amazing people from all corners of the globe, accomplished experiences I could only dream off as an intern and most importantly, learnt valuable skills I’m not sure I would have learnt anywhere else.

I guess when I first started I was very impressed with my training. For the first month or two I spent my time completing DSE training which was well structured and full of detail. The training I have done as an intern was the exact same as all full-time employees, which is definitely different to a lot of other internships elsewhere – here, I felt useful!                                                                                                                                                                                  

For my first month I had a daily chat with the training coordinator to discuss the training and any issues I may have encountered.

Throughout DataStax they predominantly use Slack to collaborate across teams worldwide, either in your specific team group or other regions around the globe. All worldwide support engineers would use Slack for FTS handovers, asking for help on a ticket or socialising – this gave me a good insight into how worldwide organisations communicate and ensure work flows smoothly. FTS stands for follow the sun. We use FTS to handover high/urgent tickets to particular support teams in other countries. For example, at 4pm every day the EMEA team handover the tickets to the US East team.

The training gave me the basic concept and overview of the product; however, I feel my knowledge increased significantly once I started taking on customers’ real-world issues and working with them to resolve their problems.

As I said previously, I have learnt some valuable skills working for DataStax - working on customer tickets definitely falls into this category. This taught me that not all situations will be the same and you will feel out of your comfort zone at times, but this is when you grow not only as a professional but also an individual. A prime example of this is that before I started at DataStax I had minimal experience with Linux. Working on customer issues and investigating their diagnostics on Linux has helped me develop my knowledge and skills further. 

With a lot of companies, working in a support role will be the customers’ first line interaction – then more complex issues will get passed to the second and third line teams, which mainly include developers. In my opinion, as a DataStax support engineer, you tend to go much further, being the customers’ first, second and third line of support because you triage the ticket, you analyse the diagnostics and you are the one to give the customer the fix to their issue. I believe this is what makes my internship different to many other internships. I was not given simplistic tasks, rather mentored through some very challenging issues and encouraged to push myself further technically, while at the same time knowing I had peers that could help me out.

I may have made it sound like once you have a ticket you are on your own and you need to solve the issue yourself… but this is not the case! The technology is quite diverse so no one person can be a subject matter expert, therefore teamwork and sharing knowledge is something that is promoted extensively.

It’s funny, when I ask for help I tend to have my own first, second and third line support. My first line support would be my colleagues I’m sitting with in the office. If they are not sure on the answer I will ask in the Slack group which holds all support engineers. If, after that, the answer is still not clear I will reach out to development which is my third line support. The communication between teams and the willingness to help others in need is what makes this company great to work for.

During my year at DataStax I assisted many new employees who were having difficulties with the onboarding. Seeing as I completed the onboarding myself, I found this very rewarding and it kept the training up-to-date and fresh in my head.

DataStax isn’t just a great place to work because of the actual work you are doing, the people and the social perks of the job are second to none. In the Windsor office there are around 20 people in the office each day and everyone gets on very well with each other. This makes the work environment very enjoyable and relaxed which in turn, in my opinion, makes me more productive.A great perk in the office is every Thursday when we have a meal from a nearby restaurant in the office, funny enough the office is definitely busier this day!

There are many other perks to working for DataStax but the best by far was going to California for the DataStax Support Summit. This was a week-long team building, training and socialising event with all support engineers across all continents. Before the support summit a few of us went skiing for a couple of days then at the summit we went whale watching with the Australian team, had a team building ropes course with colleagues who didn’t mind the heights…! We also had presentations, training and talks including senior executives throughout the week and socialised in the evenings. It was great to actually meet the people who I work with online on a daily basis. I believe this event helped me build connections throughout the company and get to know everyone better, on a personal level.

Throughout this year I have significantly developed my personal skills, along with my technical skills. I have greatly improved my working knowledge of Linux, navigating through diagnostic files and learning new and existing features, along with an undeniably deep knowledge & understanding of DSE and Cassandra.

There are far too many people to thank for my internship at DataStax and I hope someday I have the opportunity to come back to work here full-time.

Below are some of my key memories from my year at DataStax.