Unexpected, by Jacquelyn Zehner

It’s mid-way through the semester and my internship is not what I expected.
At school I am studying Computational Neuroscience and Economics. However, I have a background that heavily favors the lab-science end of my major. Naturally I expected my internship to fall somewhere within the realm of biotech.
Instead, I’m sitting on the first floor of a converted warehouse in downtown San Francisco learning about database warehousing. I couldn’t ask for a better internship. I am part of the Business Platform Analytics and Integration team at Atlassian Software Systems. ‘Business Platform’ roughly translates to ‘IT department’ and ‘Analytics and Integration’ means that we are responsible for debugging and refining Atlassian’s internal database warehouses to ensure quality data. We also monitor data for abnormalities, and create and deploy new data models when needed.
Initially, I was skeptical. An internship in IT? I thought, ‘That’s not what I was looking for. I don’t want to answer phones, what a dull semester’. In reality, I have spent the two months learning how software infrastructure functions (or, maybe more accurately, what parts of the infrastructure are most liable to break, and how to fix them).

Last week I learned how to develop a tool to visualize client account data for customer analysts. I first had to pull the data from our database, then piece together the code needed to display it in a browser. I had to create new tables in different database schemas, join the tables so the information was universally accessible, and write a script to update the table every day. The end result was a webpage full of easy-to-read graphs and charts that can be changed to reflect different parameters with toggles at the top of the page.

I love what I’m doing. 3 months ago, I would not have guessed that I would spend large chunks of my day building web pages and writing SQL queries. But now that I have some experience in the software world, I think it will change my career.

Jacquelyn Zehner Intern, Atlassian
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015