How Two Local Internship Programs Help Participants Jumpstart Their Careers
Every year, students, young adults and career changers flock to the Bay Area to take on internships as a step toward building a career in tech. But it can be challenging to know which internships will provide the best baseline for future opportunities.
For Aaryan Gupta, a software engineering internship at Chime is helping him develop the skills he will need to thrive in his chosen career while helping him understand the paths he can choose to pursue in the future.
“This internship has allowed me to inculcate professional values that will carry forward into my long-term career,” Gupta said. “The organizational skills and soft skills I have developed at Chime will help me adjust to many professional conditions and roles.”
According to Juliet Rodriguez, intern program manager at Cisco Meraki, integrating opportunities to build real skills is an intentional and integral part of any internship program that will help participants with ongoing development.
At Meraki, structured pathways help interns engage in meaningful work with low barriers to progress.
“As a Meraki intern, you won’t be expected to just sit on the sidelines and watch others, you’ll be part of the team,” Rodriguez said. “The Meraki internship program allows interns to own a project from start to finish and present their work to a large audience of Merakians.”
Built In SF heard from Gupta and Rodriguez to get an inside look at two internship programs offering real growth opportunities for participants.
Tell us a bit about the internship program you’re participating in or participated in. What made you decide Chime was the right place to do your internship?
I’m participating in the spring internship program at Chime, where I have been working as a software engineering intern with the machine learning platform team. My team is responsible for the development of scalable platform infrastructure for all machine learning use cases at Chime. Over the course of my three-month internship, I hope to deliver impactful work and learn about the culture and processes at Chime.
Back when I was considering various internships, I knew right away that Chime would be the perfect place for my internship. I was motivated by Chime’s mission to enable everyday people to achieve financial peace of mind, which I connected with a lot as an international student. Moreover, my specific role was perfectly aligned with my academic trajectory and career aspirations, providing me with the opportunity to work right at the intersection of software engineering and machine learning.
What’s the coolest project you've worked on in your role as an intern? What skills did that project help you develop?
I have worked on some cool production-ready projects, while collaborating and networking with many awesome Chimers. One of the projects that I’m really proud of is developing observability for batch data ingestion in the ML feature store. This was a fairly tricky project given that the feature store has been laid out in a very scalable and distributed manner, and interacts closely with data engineering teams as well.
This project allowed me to communicate with cross-functional teams and provided me the flexibility to design my own solution for the given problem. The most interesting part of this project, and the part where I learned the most, was designing this system and documenting it in a very detailed technical document, citing appropriate reasons for my design decisions. I was able to enhance my technical skills, specifically in AWS cloud services, relational databases and distributed systems. I also learned how to design a roadmap for a project and how to establish effective communication with stakeholders.
This project provided me the flexibility to design my own solution for the given problem.”
How has your internship helped you grow professionally, and how will you carry the lessons you've learned forward into your career?
This internship has played a foundational role in my professional development. As a student, one generally interacts with academic colleagues and professors but often misses out on interacting with industry professionals. Chime has provided me with an amazing work environment, where all Chimers reflect the company’s core values in their work ethic. I have made several significant professional connections, and have understood the true potential of teamwork in a talented organization. I have been able to develop a more practical and broader outlook on problems. I have learned how to ask the right questions, and how to work with constant feedback. I will follow the core values of Chime, especially “make it happen,” “be human” and “be bold,” everywhere in my career path.
Tell us a little bit about the internship programs at Meraki. What opportunities exist and what kind of experience can interns expect?
We have three internship terms here at Meraki — winter, summer and fall — that run between 12 and 15 weeks each. Our robust internship experience fully immerses our #MerakiTerns into the world of Meraki, where they have the opportunity to network and engage with business leaders and understand the Meraki culture. Each intern has a designated mentor, which is a key factor in the success of our internship program. We host weekly events, including leadership chats, panel presentations with past interns and social activities. We even organize fun activities for each cohort, like volunteer opportunities and chocolate-making classes, which allow time for everyone to unplug and come together. My goal is to immerse our interns into Meraki as much as possible so they truly understand what the #MerakiMagic is all about. Our interns’ opinions and ideas are sought out and heard, which makes them a key driver of business outcomes.
My goal is to immerse our interns into Meraki as much as possible so they truly understand what the #MerakiMagic is all about.”
What are some of the coolest projects your interns have gotten to participate in?
Last fall, our network support interns focused on identifying one of the most pressing issues that network support engineers and customers come across — VPN issues. The interns created a mechanism that would save logs when a VPN shut down to help NSEs be more effective at troubleshooting intermittent and sporadic VPN issues.This mechanism streamline the process for our NSEs and help create an improved experience for our Meraki customers. With the improved process, cases could be resolved more easily via phone or email.
In addition, one of our previous software interns worked on a script that was able to detect when a customer’s video footage was missing in their archive, and they also created an internal dashboard that would help their team monitor and flag major outages before they affected the customer. Their entire goal was to help improve our consumers’ confidence in the cloud archive and increase transparency.
How have your internship programs helped your interns grow professionally and kickstart successful careers?
Our internship program has helped our interns grow professionally and kickstart successful careers by giving them a platform to share and expand upon their skills. For instance, a couple of terms back, one of our interns was a veteran who joined us as an NSE, but he also had an interest in software. When it came time for the final group project, he led a team that wrote code that configured networks with voice, helping our support teams become more inclusive and efficient. Everyone was so impressed with his skills and confidence that he was offered an opportunity to rejoin us as a software engineer intern the following term. It was great to see him hone in on his software skills during the internship, and now he is thriving as a full-time Meraki employee. Our emerging talent recruitment team recently invited him to join us at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers conference, and it was such a pleasure to have him represent Meraki. He’s accomplished so much during his time here and is so passionate about what he does.