From Intern to Software Engineer with Kenny Jue
March 5, 2021Grace Friedman People & Culture
Landing an internship in today’s uber-competitive job market can be a challenge, especially for those who want to work with the most advanced technologies, distributed systems and data at scale. Kenny Jue, a graduate of University of California, Irvine, saw a path into the high-tech world with an internship at CrowdStrike. He joins us here to talk about his journey to becoming a full-time software engineer, what he’s learned so far at CrowdStrike and how others can jumpstart their tech career in the cybersecurity industry.
Q. How did you come to CrowdStrike, and what do you do here? Were you always interested in cybersecurity?
To be honest, no. I didn’t know much about CrowdStrike when I was applying. I saw the posting at my university, so that’s how I found out about the company and the position. I applied, did an online assessment and a virtual interview, and got the internship, which eventually led to me staying on board full-time.
As a member of the cloud team, my job is mainly to make sure that all of the data flowing into our cloud is working correctly and efficiently. It doesn’t have much to do with what people typically think “cybersecurity” is. The CrowdStrike Falcon® platform is complex and requires many different skill sets to maintain and develop. Many people on the cloud team don’t have a security background, so that’s not necessarily a requirement for succeeding here.
Q. What have you learned so far?
That’s an endless list. One of the things that interested me the most about coming to CrowdStrike is learning about how the entire cloud architecture works. Our cloud handles so many messages and events daily from many customers. So I had questions like: How do we build a service in a scalable way? How is the architecture set up? I think there’s a lot to be learned from that. It’s something that I’ve tried to put into practice too. Sometimes outside of work, when I’m doing a personal project, for fun or for my own development, I think about how to architect the project the way I would at CrowdStrike.
I like that I learn new things every day. As a software engineer, I enjoy the coding side. I personally work on a cloud service that’s related to automated alert handling. Whenever something in the cloud breaks or performs at a degraded state, we have alerts that trigger so that someone on the team can respond. So I’m building a service that’s going to help automate a lot of those recurring, routine tasks from some of these alerts and hopefully free up time for our team so we can tackle other critical stuff.
Q. Are there any notable differences between being an intern and being a full-time employee?
Yes and no. When you join as an intern, you’re working in a more closed-off ecosystem so that you can really focus on learning and training. You’re still using all of the technology that CrowdStrike engineers use, but there are areas that you aren’t able to access — like anything related to real customer data. But you’re definitely part of that core team, doing real work and building valuable experience. As far as internships go, CrowdStrike is a really good place to start because the contribution that interns can make is recognized, and the program is structured in a way that allows everyone to do their best work.
Since going full-time, I’ve been able to delve into a lot of areas in our code base, which has been super interesting. The variety of work that I perform has increased, and I’ve had many more opportunities to make meaningful contributions.
Q. What advice do you have for recent grads who are starting the job search?
Even if you feel like you don’t meet the exact requirements for the internship, you should apply anyway. There is a technical assessment that candidates go through as part of the internship and that’s where the team is able to tell if you have those foundational skills that you’ll need for the job. If you have those core capabilities, then you can learn the rest on the job.
If you don’t have the right experience under your belt and you want to pick up some before applying, I think that working on a personal project is a really great way to do so. That’s where you’ll figure out if the work is something you want to do and if it’s been done before. Even if it’s been done before, there’s value in doing it anyway because you’ll pick up a lot of knowledge and also maybe even come up with new ideas.
When working on a personal project, I think that one of the most difficult problems is not knowing where to start. Maybe you have too many ideas and don’t know which to tackle first. What I like to do is to create a small prototype or a proof of concept. I might even draw a small diagram of the different components and how they relate to each other. These pieces will ground the project and help organize my thinking.
Q. What do you do for fun outside of work?
I love building stuff. Most recently, I’ve gotten into custom mechanical keyboards. Since the nature of my work means that I’m typically on my keyboard bashing out code, I decided it would be a good idea to experiment with different part combinations to improve the look and feel of my home workspace setup and perfect it.
When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time playing Minecraft, and I would work on creative projects with other talented people. That was before I picked up programming. Those projects were seen by hundreds of thousands of people, and that’s not an exaggeration! It was a relatively niche community, but we still had an impact on an area of internet culture. There’s actually a Rolling Stone article featuring some of these groups that I’ve been part of, which I think makes for a pretty interesting read.
Want to learn more about working at CrowdStrike? Check out https://www.crowdstrike.com/careers/university-interns/ to browse our job listings.