Life at Sentry: Meet Our 2018 Summer Interns

Jan Crisostomo /

In our appropriately named Life at Sentry series, we talk to Sentry employees about what life is like at Sentry (and how they ended up here). In this edition, we’re chatting with our 2018 summer interns: Elaine Yeung, Josh Li, and Ayesha Omarali.

Meet Elaine.

What was your path to Sentry?

In 2016, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a diversity scholarship from the Linux Foundation, which I used to attend Open Source Summit North America. On my first day there, I attended a women’s luncheon and introduced myself and my affiliation with Holberton School. One of the Holberton mentors, Ashlynn Polini, was also at the luncheon so she came over to introduce herself to me, and Chloe Condon (Sentry’s Developer Evangelist(a)) just happened to be with her. After exchanging niceties, I noticed that Chloe’s phone case was a Gudetama case. Being myself, I couldn’t help but comment,“I love your phone case.” After that, we became conference BFFs, which ultimately led to her internal referral at Sentry. 

Describe Sentry in one word.

#dogday

Elaine, Sentry Hack Week
First Hack Week ended with a win!

What advice would you give to future interns?

If you aren’t already, familiarize yourself with imposter syndrome. If you experience imposter syndrome (as I do), acknowledge that the feelings are there but don’t let it stop you from contributing. One thing that I’ve found helpful is to develop a strong support system, both in and outside of work. 

My previous experience as a manager also equipped me with the understanding of how to effectively manage up. For example, I requested twice-a-week 30 minute one-on-ones with my manager where we could set goals and review my progress toward goals. I often started our meetings by asking my manager if he had feedback for me. 

In general, a skill that I developed before working here is to check my assumptions in order to avoid climbing up the ladder of inference. We don’t have a formalized process at Sentry for peers to give feedback to each other (yet!), so sometimes it can come unexpectedly. Sometimes the feedback can be hard to hear; in those instances, I remind myself that the other party has to care enough to take time to give me feedback and that feedback is for future improvement. 

What is the most important thing you learned during your internship?

My first assignment at Sentry was to write a tool that monitored Google Cloud resource quotas and alerted us on Slack whenever our servers reached a specific threshold. On the web console for Google Cloud Platform (GCP), users can see and manage resources. Google also provides a command line tool (gcloud) that also allows users to interact with GCP APIs. My assignment was to create an internal tool that would use information from gcloud to calculate percentages that we would otherwise have to grab from the GCP console compute engine resource quotas.

Fortunately, I knew shell scripting! I wrote version 1 (pure Bash with lots of sed and grep) and version 2 (jq is a great utility for parsing JSON) but experienced frustration using binaries that varied on different platforms. Finally, it was time to reach for Python and use excellent stdlib modules like argparse, JSON, and subprocess to create a better tool. Through the process, I l gained some important insights about learning on the job in an engineering organization and the value of readable code.

On a broader level, during my time at Sentry I began to start actively attending SF Python meet ups. I have always wanted to try speaking at tech conferences and when I learned that they had an open Call for Proposals (CFP) I was interested in submitting one about this python scripting assignment. My manager James said I should go for it if I had an interest in it and encouraged me to ask our VP of Engineering, Ben, to review my CFP. It was accepted and I delivered the talk on August 19! Stay tuned for a link to the video.

Tell me a fun story from your internship.

My second week on the job the infrastructure team had a team building event and where we went to Outback Steakhouse and tried to spend over $800 in one meal. Despite missing our target by more than $200, it was a delicious night.

Elaine, missing her team
Ops team has a lot of inside jokes. One of them is that we refer to “team” as “meat”. 🤷🏽‍♀️ 🍖

Meet Josh.

How did you get into software engineering?

I made flash games in middle school for fun, which barely involved any coding, but were my first taste of programming nonetheless and led me to take more serious programming courses during high school. I would say those experiences served as more of an inspiration for me to take on computer science during college, where I started programming seriously (and got more and more into software).

What was your intern project, and why was it important?

Matt and I first decided that I would “optimize” the continuous integration (CI) pipeline (how sentry code is linted, tested, etc). This was a really vague and undefined goal, but I liked that since it gave me the freedom to explore. I immediately noticed how messy our build and CI configuration was, so I spent a painful week or two fixing that up, which ended up reducing CI times by 25%. Because passing CI is a prerequisite for merging a PR and deploying new features, we can ship even faster now. Developers don’t have to wait as long, which is always good.

Josh Li and Matt Robenolt
Josh, wearing his mentor Matt. We don’t ask questions here at Sentry

What is the most important thing you learned during your internship?

Software is utterly, insanely, and inevitably messy and complicated beyond comprehension. So if you try and update/refactor/upgrade something that already works at the present time, the first question you will be met with is “It already works, so why?” I used to happily think things like, “Oh, let’s just bump to the latest library x, y, and z.” But the reality is that nothing’s easy. Along your way down the rabbit hole, you will most definitely encounter reason after reason, in order of increasing unexpectedness, of why “this” currently doesn’t work with “that.”

What’s important about the problem that Sentry is solving?

Software engineers are working on a tremendous and ever-increasing level of abstraction. Most of us are really, really, really far removed from what the computer is actually doing at the processor level, let alone the kernel level and the variety of libc’s that wrap around syscalls, the various VM instructions built on top of all that stuff… the list goes on and on. Like, adding one line of code using some framework built on top of an interpreted language probably equates to billions of CPU clock cycles. That’s immense. So developers are always tip-toeing on really thin ice — this software stuff is stress-inducing and HARD. Sentry makes this stuff less like that, which is important and great for all us developers.

Josh Li and Chris Jennings
Our interns work on exciting technical challenges, like delivering a custom hot dog to a hungry co-founder.

Tell me a fun story from your internship.

Too many to count, but I remember one time I was talking tempura, and Maya (Sentry’s Office Operations Manager) was intrigued. She asked if I wanted to go to Chinatown with her to buy stuff to make it for our weekly happy hour. When we went, it was sort of a small culture shock for her. I would push through crowds of people (which is acceptable in Chinese culture), and she would lag behind because she didn’t know you could do that (and would instead wait for people to pass through). I don’t remember this, but according to Maya I apparently shot her a mixed look of humor and slight disapproval. It was pretty funny.

Meet Ayesha.

What was your favorite (or least favorite) project that you worked on during your internship?

I had a non-traditional internship. Instead of the typical intern project, I really wanted to learn what it was like to be a part of an engineering team and be a part of sprints. Thankfully, I was able to join the Applications team (the team that touches everything our users see) and help build a querybuilder! I loved working side-by-side with Lyn and having our CEO David as our project manager. 

The ultra-nerd part I love about my project is when I’m out with my engineering friends and they’re so stoked about what we’re building. Since they all use Sentry, they’re all asking to get on the beta trial for its release! 

What’s important about the problem that Sentry is solving?

When I first learned how to code a few years ago errors were the most frustrating thing. I distinctly remember the fleeting joy between homework assignments when no error messages would show up and I successfully finished. At first, I thought, “this will go away when I get better.”

Surprise! This doesn’t go away; the errors just get worse and just increases your swear word vocabulary!

When dealing with software, there are so many moving parts, layers, and dependencies which make debugging a stressful experience. Sentry helps you with that (meanwhile decreasing your swear word usages).

Ayesha, Sentry Hack Week
Ayesha cares so hard about Sentry plugins that she helped create an award-winning app to update them.

What advice would you give to future interns?

Stay hungry. In general, it’s hard to stay motivated — especially in engineering where imposter syndrome is so common. In the end, all you can control is the work you put in and the knowledge you gain. 

There are endless resources online, which can get a little overwhelming, but that is the best part about being in your early twenties! This is the best type of grind, where you’re building toward your future. So don’t get complacent, don’t procrastinate, but instead work as hard as you can and have a blast doing it. 

So, just keep swimming! 

What is the most important thing you learned during your internship?

At the beginning of my internship we had a womxn’s happy hour and Kelly, one of our support engineers, told me about one of her tattoos. On her hand, it says “say yes” — she explained that it’s a reminder to always push yourself to be uncomfortable, and always be down for (almost) anything. I took this to heart, and it’s amplified my experience so much. Whether it’s an invite to get my nails done for the first time or a bug fix, I’ll commit to it. This summer I’ve worked just as hard as the fun I’ve had. 

Ayesha, Sentry Scouts meetup
Living, laughing, learning at Sentry Scouts ⛺

Tell me a fun story from your internship.

My favorite thing about being at Sentry was constantly trying to make the most fun possible out of a professional situation. Regardless of what event (or regular work day) is going on, either me or someone else is rallying the gang together to hangout and do things like make tater tots and french fries in our kitchen, head to a local bar, play Beatsaber VR, or teach each other dance moves in the office after hours. The interns wreaked constant havoc at Sentry, but Sentry was always down to do it with us and that made it so awesome.


Looking for an inclusive, supportive workplace to intern(or work)? Look no further — we’d love to hear from you! Check out sentry.io/careers.