Simon is helping computers learn. He is already fully engaged in a machine learning project that will allow previous data to be used in order to produce more and more accurate results for our users. It’s an impressive task, but what is Simon most excited about? Working and collaborating with a team. As an AfterCollege intern, Simon is able to teach computers (a task that would take my full attention), while still maintaining a social presence in the workspace.
Where did you go to school?
University of Rochester. I graduated in May 2013.
What did you major in?
Computer Science with a minor in Music.
How did you hear about this internship?
I heard through colleague Jessica who also happens to be interning at AfterCollege this summer. She heard from her family friend Teresa who is the VP of Product here.
What are you most excited about doing during your internship?
I am most excited about working with other developers. I have done a lot of programming in college, but not as much working on a project with a (relatively) large team. The collaboration and socializing are the most exciting.
Have you had other internships in the past? If so, what are some differences between this internship and your last one?
Yes, I had an internship last summer in Chicago, also with programming. The main difference is that the previous internship did not include much of a team of developers. There was one lead developer (who was also CEO) and another programming intern. I mainly kept to myself during the programming projects except when I needed help.
What do you hope to get out of this internship?
I hope to gain more practical experience in the software development industry and a stronger idea of what it’s like working on software that is delivered as a product to clients (compared to my college projects that were only for the teacher to grade). Although I have studied many computer science disciplines already, I hope to gain valuable experience with the application of these concepts in the real world. Plus, there are always new concepts, languages, and frameworks to learn.
What sort of projects are you working on?
I am working on a Machine Learning project that involves devising algorithms to more smartly categorize and suggest jobs to users. This means that we use data from user activity on the site and user feedback to analyze which jobs are more suitable for a particular user. The idea of learning from previous data and producing better results for the users is the idea behind Machine Learning.
What is a typical day like as an AfterCollege intern in your department?
When I arrive, I immediately begin work on the programming projects. The typical day involves talking with the fellow developers and gaining an understanding of what needs to be accomplished in the short-term, all while coding away on our computers. We are constantly collaborating and writing/testing code. Occasionally, there is an issue with the system, and depending on the severity, a number of us work together to fix the bug as soon as possible.
Is there any advice that you would give another college student or recent grad about entering into an internship in your field?
The single most important piece of advice I would give is: Be open to learning. More so than programming skills and computer science knowledge, learning is the most important skill to have, and is highly important during an internship. As long as a student or recent grad has the solid foundation of computer science, he/she should not be intimidated by the requirements listed in an internship posting. Companies do not strictly require those skills, and as long as the potential candidates have some familiarity with the concepts, much of the skills can be acquired on the job.
Simon is teaching computers how to learn, but that doesn’t mean that he is above doing so himself. Although he has experience in computer science, both with schooling and a past internship, he is still open to receiving new information. No matter what he encounters, whether it’s fixing a new bug in the system, or learning to collaborate with other people (who, unfortunately, are not always as logical as computers), Simon is up for the challenge.
Homework time! Simon is open to learning; are you? Demonstrate your willingness to learn by signing up for an online class, or heading down to the library and picking out a book that challenges you, or by staying after class to ask your professor to elaborate on something.
P.S. We’d love to hear how you think internships compare/contrast to school. What were some differences you came across when working on a project for a client as opposed to a teacher? How did your work conditions differ between the two environments?