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SCSE Undergraduate’s Internship 2017

Published on: 28-Sep-2017

START, Beijing, China

Name of Student: Sing Swee Yang
UG Programme: Bachelor of Computer Science, Year 3
Place of Internship and country: START, Beijing, China

START is a peer-to-peer car sharing app that has over 2 million users. It acts as a middle-man that provides insurance and remote car monitoring for users who are renting out their own cars. During the internship, I stayed at the hostel of Tsinghua University, and it takes me about an hour to travel to START’s office at Marriot Hotel via the Beijing subway.

At START, I interned as a back-end software developer specializing in PHP and MySQL. However, the only prior experience I had with these languages was from the ‘Net-centric computing’ module that I took in the School of Computer Science and Engineering. But my mentor was really understanding and helpful. He worked with me on the first few projects until I was able to comfortably work on my own independently. At START, I contributed to various projects including the following:

- Linking the database of car information to the front-end API, allowing the product managers to edit the cars that are on promotion using JSON.
- Implementing a subscription feature that notifies users when their favorite car models becomes available in their area.
- Optimizing the user interface for the staff portal, implementing new search bar criteria and hiding redundant information.
- Implementing SMS notification for urgent matter and daily Wechat notification for pending activities for the sale managers.
- Implementing a voucher management system for automated voucher generation and distribution.
- Sampling users based on UID for A/B testing to test the effectiveness of new app features.

By working on these projects, I have learnt to communicate more efficiently with my product managers to come up with a feasible plan for the implementation of each features. The product managers are also very open-minded when it comes to feedback. The working environment is really conducive for the development of new ideas. There are no cubicles and employees are seated in an open area alongside their superiors. For example, I am seated beside the Technological Director. However, the atmosphere is really relaxed and fun. The workplace encourages productivity rather than just being busy. There is nothing wrong with leaving your desk to grab a quick bite or having an afternoon nap after lunch.

Like most Beijing start-ups, START hopes to foster a strong entrepreneurial mindset among its employees. Employees are encouraged to explore new ideas from other companies. START provides subsidies and days off for employees to attend seminars and networking events. While discipline is not very strict at the workplace, the company’s culture is all about taking our own initiative. Officially, work ends at 6pm but most developers will not leave the company before 8pm when a deadline is approaching. To support this, the company provides dinner and taxi fare for employees who are working overtime.

The main thing I have learnt is that it is important for every employee to feel as if they have a say and stake in the company. It is better to encourage productivity through individual motivation rather than to force it using disciplinary measures.

For my exchange at Tsinghua University, I studied Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The lessons are conducted in a mix of English and Mandarin. It was an honor to be learning alongside China’s best students. Seeing the local students’ level of work ethics has been an eye-opening experience for me. At Tsinghua, I noticed that students are attending classes that they are not even enrolled in. The students at Tsinghua taught me to treasure the opportunity I was given to learn at a world-class institution. The experience reminded me to be grateful for the abundance of academic resources that is available to me in NTU.

START, Beijing, China

Name of Student: Zhuo Yuezheng
UG Programme: Bachelor of Computer Science, Year 3
Place of Internship and country: Yi+, Beijing, China

As someone who aspires to be a technopreneur, I have always wanted to experience what it is like working in an early-stage start-up. I chanced upon Overseas Entrepreneurship Programme (OEP) and decided to give it a go. Killing two birds with one stone, I got the chance to do an exchange and an internship at the same time. I attended classes like Machine Learning and Algorithm Design at the prestigious Tsinghua University, joined the Artificial Intelligence club and participated in numerous networking events to build up overseas network.

I worked as an Algorithm Engineer with Yi+, an AI and Computer Vision start-up, and was very lucky to be mentored by my CTO who came from Alibaba and Baidu. My job scope includes working on facial recognition and image recognition technology, part of it also includes android development and product management.

My internship experience in a start-up reminds me of my commando training during National Service, we work in small teams, versatile and we work very hard together. Communication is key and we also encourage sharing. Everyone’s opinion is valued in a start-up. There was this occasion when I did a presentation to my colleagues who used to be top engineers from Google HQ, Baidu and Microsoft, and they were all there to listen and exchange ideas. There is so much to learn, from technical skills to soft skills to history and culture. The people whom I have met are those who have shaped and moulded me into a stronger person.

Joining OEP also got me started on building a business model, which we are required to submit when we are back from the programme. Selected ones will be able to receive funding from NTUitive. Another benefit about this programme is that we get to meet like-minded people. We often discuss ideas and join entrepreneurial events together. There are always one or two things that I can learn and pick up from people who are more experienced than me. There are also existing groups of Singaporeans in Beijing who are willing to guide and mentor young Singaporeans who wants to venture into China. It was really exciting to meet groups of Singaporeans especially when you are overseas.

Besides all these, I did not forget to enjoy travelling around China, and do sports like participating in a forest marathon with one of my peers from OEP. Joining OEP is one of the best choices I have ever made in my life. It is eye-opening and has broadened my horizon.

OEP currently offers destinations include Silicon Valley, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, London, Israel, and Germany. Not only that, they also offer 6 months and one-year programme. Who knows, you may meet life-long friends, or even your co-founder during this exchange. This could be the start of an exciting journey that could see you running a successful venture that would not only change people’s lives but that of yours too. So SCSE juniors, go for overseas exposure and join a start-up. You will only get this opportunity once in a lifetime. Pursue a different experience while you’re still in school, it will be as eye-opening for you like it did for me.

NS Solutions Corporation, Japan

Name of Student: Yeo Kai Yeat
UG Programme: Double Degree in Business and Computing, Year 4
Place of Internship and country: NS Solutions Corporation, Japan

I went on a 10-weeks internship with NS Solutions Corporation as a Research Intern in Japan for the period of May to July 2017. Although I am now currently in my final year, it is the first time I am actually doing an internship, lest to say an overseas one.

Friends and family asked me why would I want to choose an internship that is firstly, so far away from home, and secondly, paying much lesser than what my other internship offers were. It was because I wanted to try something new, to try something out of my own comfort zone, and at the same time, immerse myself in a different living and business culture.

I wanted to take the chance to be able to learn not just technicalities related to my course, but also be able to learn about things that are beyond said technicalities. I felt that it was a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone, learn more about others, and also very importantly, about myself.

Personally, I have had been to Japan a few times, both as a tourist and as an exchange student. This was the first time I am heading to Japan for an internship, and I must say I was pretty nervous about it. There were basically three things that worried me:

1) I have heard ‘horror’ stories of extensive overtime schedules in Japan,
2) The random drinking sessions that the people in the company has to go with one another almost every few nights,
3) Last but not least, their importance on the concept of seniority, where the junior must give the seniors their full respect and that “the seniors are always right”.

Maybe due to sheer luck and chance, I was assigned to an office where the above three points did not occur at all. (I need to emphasize here that I was told the above three do happen at standard Japanese companies). I was told that it was partially due to the culture of branch leader and direction that the standard Japanese company culture did not really happen there, which was interesting.

I worked till late on most of the days though, leaving the office at around ~7pm on average, and the latest being 10pm, But the main reason was because the accommodation that was arranged for me was too close to the office (walking distance of 10-15 minutes estimated), and that I really didn’t mind staying a little longer in the office if there was something that needed to be done.  It is also interesting to see that the original dock-off time is actually around ~5pm, but at that time, you practically do not see any one leaving the office, or to even mention, preparing to leave the office. I guess the Japanese really love working.

The office environment was very welcoming and adaptable, where the colleagues around me always offered assistance whenever I needed help (in Japanese though). I had a really huge desk too, which felt empty most of the time. The equipment I had were pretty new and up to standards, and I had no issues requesting for new items whenever I needed it. The best part was that I was allowed to test and use certain functionalities of Amazon Web Services without having the need to be worrying about the incurred costs, which is something that I had always worried about back in NTU as a student while doing my own projects. However, the living cost in this area has been sufficiently increased due to its location of being in the center of a tourism hotspot.

I was also assigned to a new research project that my team was working on. Due to it being a relatively new research project, company documents were either pretty lacking, or in Japanese. There was a lot of reliance on independence to find own sources, documents, or even testing and creating your own documents. There were also times when I was tasked to do a single job but ended up learning a lot about other related topics. It also involves the usage of a relatively new idea so there are actually a lot of issues during the research and development of the product. During the internship, I had an in depth exposure to learning a lot of different subjects, where I realized that whilst school try to teach us as much as possible, it is only through internship where we are exposed to a different level of intensity of information. For example, I learnt a new programming language, Node.js during my internship in Japan, a language which I can confidently say I am well-versed in.

To summarize, I have learnt quite a lot from this internship, and that is not just on the technical side. The things that I have learnt during this internship will definitely be beneficial to me in the future. In particular, the thinking, logical skills that I have learnt during the internship will play a big part in my future. 

SPF Institute of Solar Technology, Switzerland

Name of Student: Lim Chun Wei
UG Programme: Bachelor of Computer Science, Year 4
Place of Internship and country: SPF Institute of Solar Technology, Switzerland

The scenery outside the student hostel.

Through blessing, I was chosen to be attached to SPF Institute of Solar Technology, which is one of the 17 research bureaus under HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil, or The University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, from the beginning of the Winter season of 2017. This also happened to be my first time experiencing cultures outside of Southeast Asia. Besides the cultural experience that I fully embraced, I also gained an invaluable amount of technical knowledge from the internship.

A scenery of the Rapperswil-Hurden Wooden Bridge.

As a software developer intern, I was assigned to work under the supervision of Stefan Brunold, the institute deputy director, to develop a Microsoft Windows software in Python, based on an existing software written in Pascal. The software is used to process and analyse spectral data obtained from the spectroscopy. Python was chosen as the choice of programming language because of its vast scientific libraries, which aided me in implementing the software. The main challenge is to design and implement a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Prior to this, I have inadequate knowledge in programming a full-fledged software with GUI, event handling, file processing, settings state saving and so on. With the advice of my supervisors and colleagues, I was able to complete the tasks at hand.

A trekking trip to Hurden

Apart from the internship work, we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the unique and vibrant European culture. To start off, we indulged ourselves in the traditional Swiss dish, cheese fondue, with our buddies from HSR. Besides this, HSR also kindly organised a weekly German lesson for all interns. Even though Switzerland has four official languages, German is taught because the location of Rapperswil is in the German-speaking side of Switzerland. This helped us to better understand the culture. Furthermore, the International Relations Office of HSR has organised a Swiss chocolate factory visit. During the visit, we were able to understand the process of making chocolate delicacies and make our own chocolate. We even had the chance to watch Lin Dan in action in the 2017 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold, thanks to one of our friends from NTU. During most weekends, we also travelled to other parts of Switzerland and nearby European countries such as Liechtenstein, Amsterdam, and Germany.

Outside the Swiss Open tournament.

Overall, it was truly a mesmerising and fruitful experience bestowed upon me by NTU, SCSE and HSR. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me along the journey.

Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil, Switzerland

Name of Student: Khare Simran
UG Programme: Bachelor of Computer Science, Year 4
Place of Internship and country: Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil, Switzerland

My Industrial Attachment at the Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil (HSR), also known as the University of Applied Sciences was an enriching experience, both professionally and personally. I worked at HSR’s Institute for Software under the guidance of Prof. Stefan Keller, and was a part of his Geometa lab team. The team specializes in open source projects involving the management and processing of massive amounts of crowdsourced geodata to build innovative applications.

During my stint at the HSR, I was given the opportunity to contribute to open source projects like OSMNames that builds a gazetteer of place names from Open Street Map data, and QGIS, a geospatial data visualization application. I attended workshops on QGIS and PostgreSQL as initial training, as well as the Swiss Python Summit and Django Girls, which were hosted at the University. Prof. Stefan has been actively promoting such events to arouse interest in the field of computer science and technology. This also goes a long way in encouraging women, who are currently under-represented in technical fields, to pursue a career in technology.

The highlight of my internship was definitely my presentation at the GeoPython Conference in Basel. I conducted a workshop on programming QGIS with Python, in front of a highly accomplished audience comprising participants from over 25 countries. With an opportunity so incredible, my supervisor had placed immense trust on me and I was glad to have made him proud since the workshop was very well received and was overall a great success! Besides limitless possibilities to learn and grow professionally, spending twenty weeks in a country in the heart of Europe can be an unforgettable experience in itself. Switzerland has a lot to offer with its magnificent landscapes, rich culture and exquisite cuisine. Our attachment university ensured that we were warmly welcomed, provided with comfortable accommodation, and given opportunities to immerse ourselves in Swiss culture. We attended a workshop to learn the fine art of chocolate-making, enjoyed the classic cheese fondue and went skiing. Moreover, being in the German-speaking region of Switzerland, we took German lessons at the University as well. Another highlight of our stay was the Fasnacht, a Swiss carnival where people dressed in eerie costumes parade the streets. We also took a flight over the Swiss Alps where we saw some of the most breathtaking views we’d ever seen. The weekends and festive holidays were a great time to travel to other European countries like Italy, France and Germany, during which I also fostered some lasting friendships along the way.

The internship was a fruitful and memorable experience and I am immensely grateful to both the Nanyang Technological University as well as the HSR University of Applied Sciences for this excellent opportunity.

Sensor-enhanced Social Media (SeSaMe) Centre, National University of Singapore

Name of Student: Liu Siyuan
UG Programme: Bachelor of Computer Science, Year 4
Place of Internship and country: Sensor-enhanced Social Media (SeSaMe) Centre, National University of Singapore

I went for my professional internship in my third year at the Sensor-enhanced Social Media (SeSaMe) Centre, National University of Singapore. I self-sourced my internship as I felt it would provide more flexibility.

The work environment at SeSaMe Centre is very relaxed and my colleagues there were very friendly and professional. I was able to enjoy my work there and be very productive during the day. Besides work, there were also other activities. During the Chinese Lunar New Year period, the whole team had a large gathering and I was also invited to one of my co-worker’s house to celebrate the festival.

At SeSaMe Centre, I was tasked to assist the research team to develop and maintain software for research use. In particular, my job was to add distributed computing support for a GPU program as well as optimizing its performance. Although it was a demanding job, I was able to successfully accomplish the tasks assigned to me by applying what I had learnt from various courses at School of Computer Science and Engineering, such as Operating systems, Introduction to algorithm, and Parallel computing. I think the project was a great opportunity to actually apply my knowledge in real projects and gain a better understanding of those concepts.

Overall, I was very happy with my internship program. It allowed me to practice my skill and gain work experience, which would help in securing a full-time job after graduation.

JP Morgan, Singapore

Name of Student: Zhou Zhiyao
UG Programme: Double Degree in Business and Computing, Year 4
Place of Internship and country: JP Morgan, Singapore

I did an internship with J.P.Morgan this summer. The banking world pays more and more attention on the power of technology and J.P.Morgan is one of the leading banks investing in technology at large scale.

The summer internship program in J.P.Morgan is very structural. My batch of interns went through a series of trainings on banking, presentation skills and some senior managers’ career sharing. I would say most of the trainings are fantastic and it’s really a little bit guilty to be paid when we are simply studying in J.P.Morgan!

For the daily tasks, I was lucky to be in an exciting team working on machine learning, robotics and the merging blockchain technology. There were five interns in the team. On the first day of work, our manager listed the task options available in the team for us to pick. I was the only one choosing to work on blockchain and an amazing journey was started.

Blockchain is regarded as the next revolutionary technology by many enthusiasts. However, many ideas are still growing, innovating and testing in the industry. Only one year before, J.P.Morgan started to develop its own blockchain platform called Quorum. Quorum is a fork of Ethereum with additional support on private transaction to ensure privacy. During my internship, the phase two of Project Ubin, a blockchain project initiated by MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) is ongoing. J.P.Morgan’s Quorum is one of the blockchain solutions competing with IBM’s Hyperledger and R3’s Corda.

Although I was not working directly on Project Ubin, I had the chance to attend various workshops and meetings in MAS as one of the J.P.Morgan representatives. Back in the office, I was given two use cases to be implemented on Quorum. At the end of my internship, I successfully delivered the two Proof-of-Concept projects and was recommended to telepresent them during the banking technology department’s monthly meeting.

I really appreciate all the great learning opportunities that J.P.Morgan providing me this summer. I strongly recommend juniors to find a meaningful and fruitful summer internship in the future.


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