Second Year Summers

This week the current second-year students gave a series of quick presentations detailing their summers with a mild focus on computer-science related happenings.

Costin began the presentations. He attended the TechChallenge Summer Camp; he met with students in Romania over seven weeks, with two sessions per week, to attempt to implement some of what he had learned the year before. He said that the Cambridge course had given him great theoretical knowledge but through this camp, he improved his technical knowledge as well.

Next up, Alice told us about her internship at Softwire. She had depressingly long two-hour commute both ways, but in spite of this loved it! She worked at a site with 120 staff and 30 interns and was allocated to a group of six interns with an accompanying full-time employee and tasked with a project for the ten weeks she worked there. In her retelling, she stressed how much she enjoyed her time there. From morale events such as sword fighting and a trip to see Incredibles 2 to free food, snacks and access to a gym, she felt valued as an intern. She also enjoyed finally understanding git, “Git is terrifying, but now I understand it!”


Alice presenting her summer

Mukul was next to tell us about his internship at the cyber-security startup Jazz Networks. They mostly deal with internal threats (for example when a company’s employees attempt sabotage). He was involved with the Machine Learning team, which is something he is intensely passionate about. His job was to take process file event data to cluster with unsupervised machine learning techniques for the purpose of detecting patterns to identify potential threats. He said that he really enjoyed the communal culture; that everyone ate in the same place and he felt free to go play table tennis when he felt stuck. At the end of his internship, he was taken by the company on a trip to Mallorca where he stayed in a villa owned by one of the investors for the company. The trip was to celebrate the launch of the product. He particularly enjoyed swimming in the sea from the investor’s private yacht! In his spare time, he wrote a blog to intuitively teach the basics of deep learning.

Zeb was next. His presentation discussed the balance between working and enjoying the summer. He detailed how, when thinking about internships, he was looking for something shorter so that he could have time during the summer to relax and pursue some of his other passions. He worked for five weeks at Diffblue, an Oxford spin-out company. Their main product is an automated test generator, which Zeb worked on in the team attempting to increase coverage of their product. He told us how it was nice to apply knowledge from the course in the industry. He enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the academic background of the company, alongside the free lunches Delivero’d from local restaurants twice a week. In the rest of his summer, Zeb travelled to Paris, Marseilles, Austria and Amsterdam. Throughout the summer he also worked on creating videos for his YouTube channel. In his last three weeks he “finally fully relaxed” and he recounted the films and Netflix shows he enjoyed watching. He thoroughly enjoyed his summer and told the first-year students that they shouldn’t feel pressured to commit to a long internship for their next summer.

Pavol worked in Edinburgh for a 12-week internship. He’d never been to Scotland before and really enjoyed the city. The company was called Skyscanner, a much larger company with offices around the world which was convenient because it allowed him to travel to London and Glasgow for different experiences. The company attempts to be the most trusted and most used online travel brand in the world: the ultimate travel engine. He found it very interesting because he saw how every team in the company worked towards this same vision. The office integrated fun elements such as airplane seats and he showed us a picture of how his offer arrived in a cute little suitcase. He worked in a team of 50 people, in a sub-team of 10 people. He managed the financial data of the company, such as calculating the profit of the company based on web traffic from their sites in order to calculate the profit daily rather than monthly. He invented a machine learning model there and managed to publish an article in the company blog so that they could use his research once he’d left. During his summer he also travelled around Scotland, going to Glasgow, the Highland Lakes, the sea and the fringe festival. He’d go on weekend trips regularly and went to Mallorca for 4 days, sleeping in a car rather than a villa as he drove around the whole island. He also went to Venice for a week with his family and Porto with some friends. (He doesn’t recommend the waves for surfing: too big!) At the end of his internship, he went home to the countryside. His personal project throughout the summer was to cook 30 different dishes, which he succeeded in doing. His favourite part of the internship was the people he met, some of whom he went on trips with. He also liked generally chatting with people in the office and enjoyed the team building events such as a barbecue and a treasure hunt.


Pavol showing off his cooking skills


Alice, Mukul and Pali were asked about the interview process for these internships and so they detailed the process for the sake of the first years, including how they found out about the opportunities and the number of interviews they had. When asked about whether he would return, Mukul said he loved the startup culture but is keen to try working for a bigger company. Both Alice and Pali were given return offers. Overall the internships were presented as a very positive experience and a great use of their summer. Alastair ended the session with a reminder that a careers fair was occurring at the Computer Lab in a month; a great opportunity to find internships and generally get a feel for the companies that are interested in hiring students from Cambridge.