Blog #1: Getting Started at PingThings

Today I am wrapping up my second week at PingThings. Although it has just been two weeks, a lot has happened...

Our first day was quite busy. I started my internship at PingThings on June 1st along with three other fellow Cal Energy Corps interns. In addition to us four, we had another intern who was from the East coast. We woke up early in the morning to meet with Julia, who runs operations at PingThings. We all introduced ourselves to one another with some ice breakers. Shortly after, we joined the daily Stand Up meeting where we got to meet the rest of the team. During the daily Stand Up meeting each team member informs the rest of the team the tasks they are currently working on and if they have any blockers preventing them from finishing their task. After the daily Stand Up, we got to meet the CEO of the company, Sean, who gave us a warm welcome. Sean gave us a big picture overview of PingThings and their goals. He also clarified any questions we had. The talk with Sean proved to be invaluable, since it allowed us to understand how all the different operations at PingThings fit together. We concluded our first day with Laurel, who furthered on Sean’s explanation, focusing on future developments for the company.

The second day was much calmer. Like on Monday, we attended the daily Stand Up meeting with the team. On the second day, some of my first tasks also came. As my first assignment, I had to read up on the database powering PingThings called BTrDB. This new data structure was developed at Berkeley in order to rapidly handle large sensor data. In addition to the BTrDB data structure research paper, I had another paper about DISTIL, which is the framework that manages BTrDB and its surrounding systems. Both of these papers were quite dense with a lot of new vocabulary. Still, I found them to be quite interesting, and I learned a lot through the process. I was particularly interested in the BTrDB data structure. Having taken the data structures computer science course at Berkeley, I was interested to know what a real world application of the ideas we learned in class would look like. At its core, the BTrDB data structure consists of a binary tree, where each layer represents finer streams of data. The rest of the week went by quite fast. On Friday, we had our last introductory meeting with Chelsea. Chelsea gave us an introduction into different team management tools and philosophies. In her meeting, we learned about terms like kanban, agile, and scrum. Chelsea also gave us an overview of Clubhouse which is a tool used to manage workflow and tasks. In it, users can create tickets for their different tasks and estimate the amount of time a set of tasks will take. Chelsea’s introduction is particularly useful for me since I will be working with the data science team which regularly interacts with Clubhouse to manage their tasks. That Friday also marked the end of the two week development cycle (sprint) for the team.

The second week went by quite quickly. One of the highlights of the week was our talk with Will Franzen, one of the front-end developers. Will started working at PingThings full-time early this May. Before, he was an intern just like us, which made our conversation all the more valuable. Will is also a rising senior, so he was able to provide us with helpful tips about managing our time and productivity. As the internship progresses, we will have the ability to meet many of the team members at PingThings, which I am really looking forward to doing. Lastly, on Friday we had an activity with the team called Lean Coffee. During Lean Coffee, people would post questions or topics to talk about. Then, everyone would get three upvotes to vote on the topics they liked the most. Once the voting was done, we would go down having the option to continue talking about a certain topic or move on to a different topic. Although simple, I really enjoyed this activity. It was a fun and engaging way to get to know more about everybody.

Overall, my first two weeks at PingThings have been great. Not only have I learned a lot of new vocabulary and concepts, but I also have been able to get to know the team and better understand the workflow in industry. At the start of this internship, I mentioned how this is my first time working in industry. Consequently, one of the highlights of these past two weeks was the introduction given to us by Chelsea on the different project development philosophies. I cannot wait to start my third week at PingThings!