The Life and Times of an Intern at UDig

Most people believe interns’ only job is to fetch coffee and watch from the sidelines. That’s honestly what I thought my bread and butter would be during my short tenure at UDig this summer. As a student with just a year of general engineering education under his belt, an automatic coffee machine had more marketable business skills than I did.

I came to learn that UDig is different. Here I was given a chance to try my hand at some real work. I was given the opportunity to struggle my way through a problem that I barely even understood, and that made my work here not only interesting but also kind of fun.

UDig has a Cisco phone system that records call data and puts it in a Call detail record (CDR). Each CDR is a plain text file that has the name of each column on the first line, the data type on the second, and the actual call data on the third. Each of these files contains over a hundred fields and needed to be parsed to gather important information in the right place.

After several weeks of guidance from a Senior Consultant and a whole lot of googling, I was finally able to build something that actually worked! I built a Java program that runs through an AWS Lambda function that pulls data from an AWS S3 bucket and sends that data to a MySQL database. To be frank, I had never heard of three out of those four things I just wrote a few weeks ago.

In addition, learning about Amazon Web Services (AWS) was a huge part of my process and something I could never access in an academic setting. I was able to build a Lambda function, which runs based on set triggers for the amount of time the function takes to run, saving the company from having to pay for server time by the hour. The Lambda function is triggered by a CDR file being put into an AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket, and then pulls key information about that file to be used in the actual Java code.

While my specific experience with these technologies is something I am very proud of and am thankful I was able to do, it is not the main point I want to make with this blog. My personal experiences as a UDig intern demonstrate that the way to make an internship beneficial, both for the intern and the company, is to throw him into the proverbial deep-end. By allowing me to sink or swim on this project, it gave me real world experience with technologies and problem solving in a business environment. While most of the benefit of the internship lands on me, UDig has also come away from this with a fully functional system that allows for the analysis of important business data.

Granting interns the opportunity to figure things out on their own, or even just entrusting them with impactful work, I realize, is rare. This internship has taught me, honestly, many more things than I ever thought and I’ll be sad to go. But hey, I’m only a rising sophomore, there’s always next year!

By Spencer Hamilton