Trisha Ballakur Talks About The Value of Making Connections During Your Internship

Trisha Ballakur

This year, we are doing Nasdaq’s annual internship program a little differently. As we navigate the novel COVID-19 pandemic, we have turned circumstance into a learning opportunity for interns joining us this year to participate in meaningful and long-term projects. Through the Nasdaq Futures Internship Program, we offer a variety of professional experiences for emerging talent through an immersive 10 to 12-week virtual internship program.

From Stockholm to the U.S., meet few of the bright minds joining us digitally from all around the world. They are playing integral, hands-on roles to help Nasdaq Rewrite Tomorrow.

Today, we speak with Trisha Ballakur a Global Information Services intern on the Nasdaq Cloud Data Services (NCDS) team and a rising junior majoring in computer science at Brown University.

Tell us a little bit more about your role at Nasdaq.

As a full-stack software engineering intern at the Machine Intelligence Lab, I work on building software systems to help customers access Nasdaq’s market data streams. I work with two other interns, and our focus is on designing, creating and maintaining a pipeline to feed data to a customer’s dashboard. Since we’re full-stack developers, we are gaining expertise in back-end tools (Kafka, accessing data, configuring the behind-the-scenes features) and front-end tools (JavaScript, client-handling the user interface that customers see). Further, our work involves thinking through the operations side of development -- scaling and deployment of our computer architecture using Kubernetes and Docker.

Why were you eager to do an internship at Nasdaq?

I’ve always been interested in business since high school, when a few friends and I won a global business plan competition. Since then, I’ve been itching to explore different sized companies and to understand their needs. Having interned at the bustling health-AI startup, Buoy Health, in 2019 and having worked on a few startup ideas myself since, I wanted to be part of a larger, established business this summer. Further, I knew that Nasdaq’s reputation as a global financial leader made it the ideal place for me to learn about economics and finance, the fields I have least exposure to. Moreover, I was excited to dive into software engineering work to support data science research, given that I am greatly involved in AI/Machine Learning at Brown.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about working here and on your team?

I’ve learned that working at Nasdaq allows software engineers to not be afraid to mess up. The ability of a larger corporation to fund projects has let my intern team and I mess around with lots of cloud space to build up our project with. Further, it’s given me a chance to actually try out unique and mature infrastructure like EC2 servers on AWS, Kubernetes pods, and Docker images and containers. These technologies are vital to scalable tech. Like Nate Sammons described to my team and I, being proficient in these skills will help a software engineer to be prepared for a cloud-focused future.

Tell us about the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far.

My team and I are creating a pipeline that funnels market data to a user's browser (such as Google Chrome). Currently, we are storing all of Nasdaq's market data in a system called Kafka, but this is difficult for customers to access. As such, we'd like to create a distributed system for our customers to access the 300,000 messages sent per second from Nasdaq's feeds. We are planning to accomplish this by using a reverse proxy server called Pushpin in conjunction with web frameworks (Django and Express) and a channel to send data to clients (SSE or WebSockets). Additionally, we will make a dynamic webpage that will display the incoming data using graphs and UI/UX.

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your time here?

I hope to be able to take any open source software, understand its pluses and minuses, and incorporate it into other systems to give it new life. I’ve been so lucky to have had an internship with a mentor (Jonathan Rivers) who has taught me that developers can also pull from one another. No one has to reinvent the wheel; but instead, they can modify it to enhance their own product.

Your advice for interns next year:

Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone! I was nervous about making connections coming into the internship, given that it would be entirely online. On the contrary, I have made such good friends with my two other intern teammates. Each day, it is a joy to come on zoom for over 5 hours every day with them. It always feels like we’re just a bunch of friends working on a fun project together. Also, employees and role models in many parts of the company and Machine Intelligence lab have been available and open to meet me and my team. I’ve been learning so much about industries such as finance, data science, indexes, and entrepreneurship from their advice and mentorship.

Lyanne Alfaro


Lyanne is a producer, host and social media strategist at Nasdaq. Her team helps reimage the way Nasdaq tells stories about Nasdaq’s role in the future of technology via video, podcasting and social content. You can find her on social media @LyanneAlfaro

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