October 4, 2023

An internship at Slack is an thrilling alternative to be taught new expertise, meet different engineers, and construct cool stuff. This was the truth for 3 interns on the Knowledge Engineering staff this summer time. All through our time on this flex-work surroundings, we received to expertise each the extensive attain of the digital surroundings and the advantages of in-person work. As knowledge engineering interns, we received to contribute to Slack’s mission by our mission which tackles Knowledge Lineage at Slack.


Whereas we’re all on the identical pillar, Knowledge Engineering, we have been every on totally different groups inside the pillar, with separate mentors and managers. Thus, we had barely totally different experiences throughout onboarding. Nonetheless, the Knowledge Lineage mission that we tackled this summer time was collaborative and spanned all three groups that we have been on. As such, it was a collaborative mission between us, our mentors, and our managers. With a view to ramp as much as this mission, we needed to attend Onboarding at Slack conferences, which allowed us to fulfill new hires, present engineers, and different interns. Whereas many of the onboarding classes have been accomplished nearly, the organizers created an surroundings of collaboration, the place we felt supported and empowered. We have been additionally inspired to affix scrum conferences with our respective groups, the place we have been nearly welcomed with open arms, even when we weren’t accustomed to all the brand new phrases and instruments talked about. We additionally joined a digital icebreaker session, the place we received to talk with members of our prolonged Knowledge Engineering pillar. We discovered that whereas many people have been becoming a member of remotely from vastly totally different geographic places, we might nonetheless discover commonalities and are available collectively as a staff. This made us interns really feel welcome and excited to be at Slack.

The mission

Halfway by our second week, we started to familiarize ourselves with our mission. The mission itself focuses on knowledge lineage. When you’re questioning what knowledge lineage is, we have been asking ourselves the identical factor just a few months in the past. Right here is an instance state of affairs to elucidate the idea:

Think about you’re an engineer who makes use of dashboards when speaking with different Slack staff (e.g. to point out how your staff has made an affect on a metric). You want to make use of dashboards as a result of they permit your staff to trace metrics precisely and visually. 

At some point, you understand that the dataset you have been pulling from has a bug in it. That’s as a result of the dataset that your dataset was derived from additionally has a bug in it. You don’t know easy methods to discover that upstream dataset with out knowledge lineage.

Basically, it’s a type of annotating knowledge to explain the place it’s coming from and the place it’s going. The info lineage system predated our time at Slack (Knowledge Lineage at Slack), nevertheless, there have been some shortcomings of this present system that we addressed:

  • A SQL parser was used to search out knowledge lineage info. The staff tasked with sustaining it had extra pressing priorities.
    • Shifting the possession from a single staff might permit extra groups to get essentially the most protection with minimal effort and likewise makes it extra maintainable. 
  • The parser would get lineage solely from sure varieties of specialised queries.
    • Shifting to manually annotating lineage might improve protection.
  • There was no visible element of the info lineage system, apart from a notification from an inside instrument that notifies downstream customers of a desk through Slack.
    • This notification instrument additionally solely prolonged one degree downstream to a desk.

After studying related assets and assembly with the staff, we promptly started working! Fortunately for us, our staff had equipped us with paperwork that might define the targets of the frontend and backend parts of our intern mission. Beginning with our first dash, we have been tasked with familiarizing ourselves with these paperwork. Extra importantly, nevertheless, that is the dash the place the interns began working collectively.


The way in which we managed our mission was by the agile improvement cycle, the place we’d arrange duties for ourselves for a two-week dash. In the course of the dash, the three of us every had the possibility to be scrum grasp. We have been guided by the mentors and managers, who helped us decide the time our duties would take to finish and easy methods to cut up up our Jira tickets. By working with the bigger staff while practising management by being the scrum grasp, we might observe our progress and milestones successfully. One other a part of the agile cycle was the retrospective conferences, the place the staff would vote on subjects to speak about and have a good time the wins whereas recognizing the place there’s room for enchancment.

At first of the internship, we every met with our mentors individually greater than we labored collectively, and felt that we have been too remoted in consequence. Subsequently, we began scheduling common work blocks along with all the mentors. In every work block, we might work collectively on a selected process, leveraging this time to make progress. We additionally allotted time to replace one another on our progress and make sure that everybody was on the identical web page.

One other distinctive portion of our work as interns was presenting our mission to different Slack people throughout a number of levels of our internship. Knowledge Engineering Lightning Talks are a month-to-month assembly the place anybody inside the DE group can current what they’re engaged on, and we had the privilege of presenting at each the start and the tip of our internships. Exhibiting how our mission progressed all through time was fascinating and harbored some pleasure in us. We additionally received to current our mission across the midpoint of our internships to the bigger CoreDev org for Slack, roughly 200 folks. By way of these, we have been in a position to garner a greater collective understanding of our mission whereas sharpening our public-speaking expertise. All in all, we gained higher collaboration, presentation, and technical expertise throughout our time on DE at Slack!


One factor that was not written within the mission necessities was taking the time to have enjoyable with the staff. Whereas we thought working collectively was enjoyable, our staff took it one other step additional. On high of our common conferences, our managers put collectively a recreation session the place we received to fulfill the members of our prolonged groups and reply questions from a immediate. It sounds fairly easy, however we received to go deep — particularly upon assembly for the primary time. At this level, we felt like we knew the folks we have been working with on a deeper degree. It was nice to know that not solely would we be working with sensible and gifted folks, but additionally individuals who we get together with as effectively. Apart from our common conferences and digital get-togethers, we truly received to fulfill the staff after we went to staff lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf. We shared some dishes, chatted about how bizarre it’s not to be seeing one another by a Zoom display screen, and took some footage.

Aside from the staff occasions, we additionally had occasions organized by  Futureforce, Salesforce’s college recruiting program. We went to Spark social, volunteered to work at McLaren’s park in San Francisco, interacted with leaders at Slack and Salesforce through Speaker Sequence, and performed ping pong at Spin SF. This gave us the chance to bond with an enormous group of interns outdoors of Slack. Making associates was simple this summer time, because of a few of these Salesforce occasions. After years of being caught inside, it was refreshing to make these associates so simply.

Last ideas

Hannah’s ideas – I’ve by no means had an internship the place I labored with different interns intently on the identical mission, so I used to be curious to see if I would love it or not. To my shock, I loved it a lot! Having others on my staff in the identical spot as me meant that we might advocate for one another and work collectively. By way of a mixture of experiences, from being the scrum result in working collectively on backend tickets, I received to be a pacesetter and be taught from others on the similar time. Outdoors of the mission, I’ve met individuals who have made an unbelievable optimistic affect on me, who I’ll bear in mind for the remainder of my profession.

Fenil’s ideas – This explicit setting of a cross-functional staff the place we had mentors belonging to totally different groups labored out effectively for me. It meant that I used to be by no means blocked, as a result of some mentor would all the time pop in to unstuck me. It additionally helped me to be taught quite a lot of issues, which is an important takeaway of mine from the internship. I received to amass data about frontend, backend, knowledge engineering, containerization and deployment, agile methodology, and model management! This was solely potential as a result of our mission spanned all these totally different areas, and we had wonderful mentors — consultants within the discipline who supplied their unparalleled assist and helped us develop.

Aside from all of the work, I had an incredible time working and collaborating with the interns and our mission. We had a lot enjoyable collectively. I additionally received to fulfill some wonderful Armenian early-stage startup founders who have been invited to the Salesforce tower to get to know extra in regards to the firm.

All these experiences gave me super pleasure and I couldn’t have requested for any higher technique to spend my summer time.

Derek’s ideas – Given that each one of my prior internships have been absolutely distant, having a hybrid one was an incredible expertise. I used to be in a position to meet so many cool interns, engineers, managers, and execs, in addition to make significant connections with them! Additionally, with the ability to reside in San Francisco was an unbelievable time, and rather more satisfying than being dwelling all summer time. (I’d positively advocate taking walks across the metropolis and exploring as a lot as potential to future interns!) Lastly, with the ability to work on a collaborative mission with Hannah and Fenil was rather more enjoyable than I used to be anticipating. Usually, group tasks trigger a whole lot of anxiousness surrounding work load balances, however attending to work with different devoted interns has been wonderful. Having entry to one another’s mentors has allowed the mission to progress rather more easily than I anticipated.

Reflection and takeaways

Some key takeaways:

  • Whereas distant work has its advantages, we actually appreciated the possibility to fulfill the staff in particular person and work collectively.
  • As cliche because it sounds, having a staff to depend on is so rewarding. We win collectively and lose collectively, however we all the time have every others’ backs.
  • Having enjoyable and connecting along with your staff is simply as vital because the precise mission itself. It adjustments the complete expertise and day-to-day life.

Working at Slack and on the Knowledge Engineering staff has afforded us an exquisite expertise of getting again into the workplace in particular person whereas additionally having the pliability of distant work. From assembly one another, our mentors and staff members, we’ve totally skilled the advantages of working collectively, whether or not it’s from dwelling or in the identical room. Having the hybrid possibility has afforded us the power to develop professionally in any work setting we could encounter. We admire the chance to be a part of Knowledge Engineering at Slack this summer time!

Particular thanks

Large because of our managers Suzanna Khatchatrian, Lakshmi Mohan, and Johnny Cao for overseeing our work and supporting us all the way in which. An additional particular because of our mentors Joey Thaidigsman, Tom Liao, Shreya Shetty, and Shrushti Patel for constantly serving to with the mission and ensuring we additionally had enjoyable!

Are you able to assist Slack resolve powerful issues and be a part of our rising staff? Apply now