Our Hybrid and Collaborative Summer time @ Slack’s Knowledge Eng

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


Whereas we’re all on the identical pillar, Knowledge Engineering, we had been every on completely different groups throughout the pillar, with separate mentors and managers. Thus, we had barely completely different experiences throughout onboarding. Nonetheless, the Knowledge Lineage venture that we tackled this summer time was collaborative and spanned all three groups that we had been on. As such, it was a collaborative venture between us, our mentors, and our managers. As a way to ramp as much as this venture, 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 had been finished just about, the organizers created an surroundings of collaboration, the place we felt supported and empowered. We had been additionally inspired to affix scrum conferences with our respective groups, the place we had been just about 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 bought to talk with members of our prolonged Knowledge Engineering pillar. We discovered that whereas many people had been becoming a member of remotely from vastly completely different geographic places, we may nonetheless discover commonalities and are available collectively as a group. This made us interns really feel welcome and excited to be at Slack.

The venture

Halfway by means of our second week, we started to familiarize ourselves with our venture. The venture itself focuses on information lineage. If you happen to’re questioning what information lineage is, we had been asking ourselves the identical factor only some months in the past. Right here is an instance situation to elucidate the idea:

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

In the future, you understand that the dataset you had 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 methods to discover that upstream dataset with out information lineage.

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

  • A SQL parser was used to search out information lineage data. The group tasked with sustaining it had extra pressing priorities.
    • Shifting the possession from a single group may enable extra groups to get probably the most protection with minimal effort and likewise makes it extra maintainable. 
  • The parser would get lineage solely from sure kinds of specialised queries.
    • Shifting to manually annotating lineage may enhance protection.
  • There was no visible element of the info lineage system, apart from a notification from an inner device that notifies downstream customers of a desk through Slack.
    • This notification device additionally solely prolonged one stage downstream to a desk.

After studying related sources and assembly with the group, we promptly set to work! Fortunately for us, our group had equipped us with paperwork that may define the targets of the frontend and backend parts of our intern venture. Beginning with our first dash, we had been tasked with familiarizing ourselves with these paperwork. Extra importantly, nonetheless, that is the dash the place the interns began working collectively.


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

To start with of the internship, we every met with our mentors individually greater than we labored collectively, and felt that we had been too remoted consequently. Due to this fact, we began scheduling common work blocks along with the entire mentors. In every work block, we’d 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 venture 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 throughout the DE group can current what they’re engaged on, and we had the privilege of presenting at each the start and the top of our internships. Exhibiting how our venture progressed all through time was fascinating and harbored some pleasure in us. We additionally bought to current our venture across the midpoint of our internships to the bigger CoreDev org for Slack, roughly 200 folks. By these, we had been in a position to garner a greater collective understanding of our venture 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 venture necessities was taking the time to have enjoyable with the group. Whereas we thought working collectively was enjoyable, our group took it one other step additional. On high of our common conferences, our managers put collectively a recreation session the place we bought to fulfill the members of our prolonged groups and reply questions from a immediate. It sounds fairly easy, however we bought to go deep — particularly upon assembly for the primary time. At this level, we felt like we knew the folks we had been working with on a deeper stage. It was nice to know that not solely would we be working with good and gifted folks, but additionally individuals who we get together with as effectively. Aside from our common conferences and digital get-togethers, we really bought to fulfill the group once we went to group lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf. We shared some dishes, chatted about how bizarre it’s not to be seeing one another by means of a Zoom display screen, and took some footage.

Other than the group 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 Collection, and performed ping pong at Spin SF. This gave us the chance to bond with an enormous group of interns outdoors of Slack. Making pals was simple this summer time, due to a few of these Salesforce occasions. After years of being caught inside, it was refreshing to make these pals so simply.

Ultimate ideas

Hannah’s ideas – I’ve by no means had an internship the place I labored with different interns carefully on the identical venture, 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 group in the identical spot as me meant that we’d advocate for one another and work collectively. By a mixture of experiences, from being the scrum result in working collectively on backend tickets, I bought to be a pacesetter and study from others on the similar time. Outdoors of the venture, I’ve met individuals who have made an unbelievable constructive impression on me, who I’ll bear in mind for the remainder of my profession.

Fenil’s ideas – This explicit setting of a cross-functional group the place we had mentors belonging to completely 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 study quite a lot of issues, which is crucial takeaway of mine from the internship. I bought to accumulate information about frontend, backend, information engineering, containerization and deployment, agile methodology, and model management! This was solely attainable as a result of our venture spanned all these completely different areas, and we had superb mentors — consultants within the subject who supplied their unparalleled help and helped us develop.

Other than all of the work, I had an incredible time working and collaborating with the interns and our venture. We had a lot enjoyable collectively. I additionally bought to fulfill some superb Armenian early-stage startup founders who had been invited to the Salesforce tower to get to know extra in regards to the firm.

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

Derek’s ideas – Given that each one of my prior internships had 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 stay in San Francisco was an unbelievable time, and rather more fulfilling than being dwelling all summer time. (I’d positively suggest taking walks across the metropolis and exploring as a lot as attainable to future interns!) Lastly, with the ability to work on a collaborative venture with Hannah and Fenil was rather more enjoyable than I used to be anticipating. Usually, group initiatives trigger plenty of anxiousness surrounding work load balances, however attending to work with different devoted interns has been superb. Having entry to one another’s mentors has allowed the venture 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 group in particular person and work collectively.
  • As cliche because it sounds, having a group to rely 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 group is simply as essential because the precise venture itself. It adjustments the complete expertise and day-to-day life.

Working at Slack and on the Knowledge Engineering group has afforded us a beautiful 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 group 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 choice has afforded us the flexibility to develop professionally in any work setting we could encounter. We recognize the chance to be a part of Knowledge Engineering at Slack this summer time!

Particular thanks

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

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