Lessons Learned from Our Engineering Internships Program: Part 1

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In 2019, InfluxData hired its largest-ever class of interns in the engineering department, with a total of 5 hires into our storage and query language teams. This series of blog posts discusses our experience gained from building this program.

In Part 1 of this blog series, we share the “why” of our internships program.

Why we hire interns

Historically, InfluxData has always had 1 or 2 interns, most of whom came to us as a direct referral from a full-time team member. Last year, we decided to grow our internship hiring into a larger program with the hope of developing an entry-level hiring pipeline. This was a large undertaking with many expected outcomes. As with many important decisions we make at Influx, we were guided by our core values:

  • We value each other: We value the presence of interns at our company, for how they help us enhance the team. Hiring a large number of interns infuses energy and new ideas into our teams. It creates a culture of mentorship that helps us to develop new leaders and help engineers reach new career levels.
  • We get stuff done: We hire our interns to work on our products. With patience, training and mentorship, we've seen 100% of our interns successfully merge pull requests into production.
  • We believe humility drives learning: As stated above, we value the opportunity for mentorship that an internship program creates. Our engineers can learn much about working with others, but also more deeply about their software craftwork, by teaching it to interns. We also value that interns can join our teams and be immersed in learning agile software development principles as integrated team members.
  • We embrace failure: Put simply, we expect interns to gain experience by trying things out on their own, and sometimes failing. They learn that this is an acceptable use of time, so long as they learn from the experience and show improvement.
  • We are committed to open source: During on-boarding, interns must, if they haven't already, create a personal GitHub ID that is not directly affiliated with Influx. They will work on well-groomed issues in our open source products and ultimately merge them back via pull request review. This experience benefits the interns, most of whom have never contributed to an open source project. It also benefits the company, as we get first-hand knowledge of how easy/hard/productive it is for community members to make contributions to the code base.

Internship outcomes

Overall, we have found that our 2019 internship class exceeded our expectations based on our core values. Our full-time engineers gained valuable mentoring experience and our interns learned many new skills while pushing many commits into production. As proof, look at all of the open source contributions made by interns in 2019 — ewendai, roshie548, sauren-khosla, adamperlin, and maxunt.