This series of interviews asks UT iSchoolers about their internships and work experiences. Ji Won Min is a second year iSchooler who is enrolled in the B.S. Computer Science / M.S. Information Studies five year integrated program where she is focusing her area of study on Human Computer Interaction (HCI).
Where is your internship and what do you do?
- My current internship is at Pinterest Inc. in San Francisco, California. My role is Software Engineering Intern specifically on the Sales Tools team. Some of my tasks this summer include building an auditing API to keep track of campaign changes and implementing a search function for a tool used by the sales team at Pinterest.
What drew you to this internship?
- Having had prior experience at large tech companies and a very early phase startup with only a handful of people, I wanted a small to mid-sized company to be able to fully cover the wide range of experiences at tech companies before graduation. Pinterest is currently producing innovative technology at the rate of large companies while still maintaining a startup-like culture, which is a nice sweet spot. I also use Pinterest as a product, which is always a personal plus as an engineer.
What have you enjoyed most about your internship?
- Thanks to my flexible manager, I’ve had opportunities to try out a variety of new technology stacks I had never been exposed to before. Being able to switch from a very technical data pipeline to designing the UI for a new feature for the sales team is quite fun. I’ve also enjoyed my time at a company where transparency is not only encouraged, but a part of the core values. We have a weekly meeting with co-founders of the company every Friday, where everyone (even interns!) is encouraged to demo their work and ask questions directly to the top of the company.
What have you learned from your internship?
- I have learned to be comfortable with Python as a language, on top of being exposed to AngularJS. Besides programming languages, I’ve learned new workflow tools such as JIRA, Phabricator, and have become a master at having meaningful one-on-one meetings, which are key for meeting expectations and continually improving at your job.
What skills, knowledge or experience did you develop in a class that you have used at this internship?
- My undergrad classes taught me my programming skills and other software engineering technical abilities, but my more recent iSchool classes have taught me to think about the user in everything I do. This skill in particular lines up with our core value to think of the users of Pinterest to drive every decision we make, even as an individual contributor.
How did you find this internship position? What resources did you use?
- A16z is a venture capital firm and one of the companies in attendance at the College of Natural Sciences career fair in the fall. Rather than taking interns of their own, they take resumes and match them with their portfolio companies. I was matched with Pinterest, whose recruiter remembered me from having set up tech talks and other events with school organizations.
When did you begin searching for an internship and how long did it take to find this position?
- I began searching for internships around the end of August of 2015, and officially signed with Pinterest for the summer in mid-October. The more competitive the internship, the earlier the spots fill up!
Is there a class that you’d recommend to students interested in developing the skills needed to work in a similar internship/position?
- I would definitely recommend taking as many technical classes as possible, both in and outside of the iSchool. Because technology moves fast, having at least one technical class per semester will keep your skills sharp as long as you have a solid foundation.
What advice would you give other students searching for an internship or work opportunity?
- Don’t underestimate the power of networking. I don’t mean having a large LinkedIn network, but making genuine, individual connections with people at career fairs, tech events, and meetups can definitely go a long way.
Great advice! Thanks for participating, Ji Won!