I recently finished a 3 month internship for Last.fm in the data junkie department. Officially I was a Java intern. That means turning coffee into code. In between thoughts of “why am in a country where it’s cold even during summer?!”, I spent time thinking “how the hell did I end up here doing stuff I like?”
I’ve been instructed to write something about it. It all started on a dark and stormy night in 1981… I’ll just skip to the end. On my first day I was given a computer and told to install whatever I wanted on it. Ubuntu away!! I was very happy.
After that moment of glee however, it wasn’t all beer and ball pits. I also had to learn stuff.
Luckily I was given interesting, challenging problems and the trust to work on them with my own brain. It’s perfect for someone excited about all things open source as Last.fm uses open source tools everywhere. That helps give a warm fuzzy feeling throughout the day, even more so when I was able to make some contributions back. I submitted a couple of patches to HBase, the open source Bigtable-like implementation.
There was much digesting to be done. Researching and playing with things like Map/Reduce, Hadoop and HBase was a great way to learn about the future of scalability. It’s safe to say I learned far more than I would have crammed into lectures.
Of course, Last.fm is more than just a great learning environment. There’s also being a part of producing something that people really love. People care a lot about what they do at Last.fm and it’s infectious… beware.
I’d like to note that there are also certain things that have conspired against me during my internship. Good places in the area to go for lunch made me spend way too much money, a pretty decent coffee machine forced me to make many typos, and getting distracted discovering new music on the Last.fm website caused me to forget what I was thinking more than once.
All in all, the whole things was a positive experience that ended in a hug.