Computer science students gain valuable experience with summer internships
Computer science students gain valuable experience with summer internships
As summer break winds down, we caught up with several computer science students—from undergraduates to doctoral students–to learn about their internships. From major companies to the Department of Energy, from Chicago to India, read on to see how some of University of Illinois Chicago computer science students spent their summer.
Ragib Ahsan, Anthem
Ahsan, a fourth year Ph.D. student at UIC, received his internship at Chicago-based Anthem through his advisor’s recommendation. He went through multiple, hours-long interviews, but said he received his offer quickly after completing the process. Ahsan works for Anthem’s artificial intelligence team, building cutting-edge AI-based solutions. He worked on a project building a medical knowledge graph for a specific medical condition, from information found in medical journals.
“Even though knowledge graph is a completely new domain for me, I managed to contribute in the whole pipeline from extracting and mining up to building the knowledge graph,” Ahsan said.
Ahsan appreciates the open and flexible work culture at the firm, and was surprised many of his fellow employees are UIC alumni, in both junior and senior roles. He said it “felt like home” to join the Anthem team. An international student from Bangladesh, Ahsan also enjoys the breathtaking views from Anthem’s office, located on the 37th floor of the Willis Tower. He will continue his internship on a part-time basis during the fall semester.
“It’s undoubtedly a great work place for UIC students. I highly recommend Anthem,” Ahsan said.
Aishwarya Chavali, Expedia
Chavali, a graduate student, applied online to Expedia, and is working for the travel giant on their multi-item packages team, in their Chicago office.
She learned to think about what a customer wants to see on a travel website, and was pleased Expedia.com allowed her to experiment with her ideas for a new feature she was working on, while helping her maintain a customer-centric mindset.
“It is surprising how the slightest changes to a product have a huge impact on the business,” Chavali said.
Chavali found that working on software development in a real-time environment was incredibly enjoyable. She was pleased to that the internship provided her an opportunity to learn not only about the industry, but about the technology work culture in the United States.
“I can’t wait to see my project as a new feature in Expedia.com in the next couple of months! All in all, it was an amazing experience full of learning and fun,” said Chavali.
Simran Jumani, Facebook
Jumani, a master of science student in the CS department, said her resume was selected off the Piazza Q&A forum by Facebook, and she was invited to a recruiting event held in Chicago. She interned in Facebook’s Menlo Park, California headquarters, working on machine learning models for the social media company.
“I was assigned to a manager who guided me throughout the internship, and helped me pick the projects that I was most interested in,” Jumani said. “The experience was all the more enriching since interns are treated on par with full-time employees, and work on projects that have a direct impact on Facebook’s products.”
Jumani enjoyed events organized for interns to mingle with one another and learn about each other’s projects. She also had the opportunity to work on different Facebook products during an intern hackathon, then showcase a prototype.
“This internship has been the most productive and fun three months of my life.” Jumani said of her experience, noting that she received a full-time job offer to join the social networking giant.
Cynthia Martinez, Allstate
Martinez, a senior, obtained her internship through the career fair at the 2018 Grace Hopper conference in Houston, Texas. She is working with the Allstate Information Security organization, on the Network Security Operations team. She has been learning about Allstate’s network infrastructure and the configuration and security policy implementation on the company’s firewalls.
“A big surprise for me was how big a role technology plays in an insurance company like Allstate. There is a big push for innovation,” said Martinez. “It’s been great to see and be a part of.”
Martinez, who was born and raised in Chicago, found it scary at first to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the internship, but has found the experience to be incredibly rewarding.
“The culture at Allstate is amazing. Everyone I have met is very welcoming. They want to see you succeed and everyone is there to help each other,” Martinez said. “There are a lot people at Allstate who have worked for more than 15 years. I think that says a lot about a company.”
Bharat Middha, Microsoft
Middha, a sophomore and president of the Association for Computing Machinery Student Chapter (ACM), is working as a software developer at Microsoft. He is working on Microsoft Office OneDrive SharePoint Team Sites. Middha found the internship online, and said he has learned a lot and grown as a software developer at the firm. Above all else, Middha values the culture at the firm.
“They treat me like a co-worker and respect and value my work. They have fulfilled every request I have made for things like extra monitors and computers,” said Middha.
Middha enjoys downtime with colleagues playing Nerf Tag, going paddle boarding, for picnics and barbeques, and to trampoline parks.
He would welcome an opportunity to return to the company.
Jack O’Donnell, Infosys
O’Donnell, a senior, traveled to Bangalore, India, to work at Infosys this summer. He said he learned about the internship in an email from the Engineering Career Center.
O’Donnell worked in strategic software, on a parking lot solution application.
“It was an existing application that had been worked on before. I worked closely with my mentors to completely overhaul the UI [user interface] and then add back end telemetry,” O’Donnell said.
The internship provided O’Donnell with friends for life, an appreciation for the company, and of India. He said the company provided free accommodations, lots of meals, and the opportunity to travel the country.
“India is one of the most diverse places on Earth. Diverse in the sense that like the U.S. there are so many things to see that are so different from each other. Infosys really takes care of the interns and makes sure they have time to see the real India. I would recommend this internship to anyone. It has truly changed my life for the better in multiple ways,” O’Donnell said.
Andres Tapia, Argonne National Laboratory
UIC Sophomore Andres Tapia found out about his internship at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago through an email sent to former participants of a high school coding camp held at the lab. He was thrilled to be accepted by the Department of Energy to return to Argonne.
Tapia worked in the Environmental Science Division, identifying, processing and synthesizing hundreds of millions of records of standard weather and air quality data for the Chicago area, in an effort to assess patterns that might trigger respiratory symptoms and other health effects in sensitive groups, information that can be integrated to help hospitals prepare for admission spikes.
Tapia said he was able to expand his knowledge on the Python library, Pandas, and plotting data more effectively. His biggest surprise of the summer? He was able to wear shorts to work.
“I had a really good mentor, Margaret MacDonell, who was knowledgeable, patient, and kind to all members of my team. She made me feel so welcome and included from day one,” Tapia said.
Tapia, who was part of four different abstracts, was offered a co-op appointment, and will be able to continue to work remotely for Argonne during the school year.
call to action
The Fall 2019 Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair will be held September 18-19, 2019 at the UIC Forum. Visit the Engineering Career Center for more information.