Jason Rand
Jason Rand
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In a few weeks, we’re kicking off the quarter by welcoming our Summer 2011 class of engineering interns to Ning HQ. Hailing from colleges across the US, our interns spend their summers coding, working on projects of interest and enjoying life out in the San Francisco Bay Area. They’ll have the chance to dive into Ning’s production code and we’re looking forward to seeing the things they ship to our nearly 100,000 customers using the Ning Platform and their millions of members! In the meantime, Cole Ott, a senior from Dartmouth College has been with us for the past few weeks and we wanted to highlight his experiences thus far interning at Ning!

Intern Spotlight! Cole OttName: Cole Ott
College & graduation year: Dartmouth College, 2012
Majors: Computer Science, Mathematics
Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA
Hobbies & fun facts: I do a fair amount of digital art and cartooning (see self-portrait). I also like film, concert-going, and friendly banter.

What drew you to Ning and its internship program?
I wanted a small, lightweight company where I, as an intern, would get to work with large-scale problems, and Ning fit that bill. Plus social networking’s an interesting space, and I wanted to try Northern California on for size, since in this industry it’s pretty likely I’ll end up in the area.

What’s been your initial experience at the company so far and what’s an example of something you’re working on?
I’m having a great time. I’ve already learned a ton, and I’m getting to work on interesting projects—not some totally quarantined intern playground.

I’ve been primarily working on the data pipeline. My mentor, Pierre, wrote a post last year explaining how the analytics team has been using Scribe for their event collector. Well, I’m actually moving the collectors away from Scribe and the Thrift protocol, as well as adding a handful of other improvements for speed and scalability. The bulk of what I’m doing is actually open-source, so if you have an appetite for code you can take a look at my github to see part of what I’ve been doing here.

What’s it like living and working in Silicon Valley and California?
Having restlessly spent the last few years in Middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire, I was itching for something urban and a little worried that Silicon Valley would feel too sleepy. Luckily I was wrong. I’m loving Palo Alto and haven’t had a boring week here yet. Plus San Francisco’s more accessible than I anticipated. I’m really hoping to wind up in the area again after graduation next year.

What’s something you enjoy about being at Ning?
It’s big enough that there seems to be a lot going on, but small enough that everyone gets exposure to what the other groups are doing. This is particularly great for someone like me, who isn’t quite sure what types of problems they want to work on a few years down the line. Plus the people and location are both great, and the tasty, free food doesn’t hurt.

What advice can you give to other interns starting soon?
Ask questions. In my first week I was entirely intimidated by all the new technologies I was working with and didn’t ask nearly enough questions. I’ve learned my lesson, and now I’m a question-asking machine.

You can also see the pulse of our engineering team on our Ning Operations and Engineering blog. We also just announced that we’re looking for an Awesome Design Intern for the summer to join our Marketing and Communications team. Interested in being part of the action and joining us? Check out join.ning.com, apply and be a part of what’s next. We look forward to hearing from you!