This summer, we welcomed a number of interns into every Watson office around the world. This is an interview with one of our software engineering interns, Samved Divekar.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Where do you go to school, and what are you studying?
My name is Samved. This summer, I am located in the IBM Pittsburgh office as an intern software engineer. I am a graduate student at the University at Buffalo (SUNY UB) studying Computer Science. I have completed one year of my program. During this year, I studied and worked on various interesting subjects and projects including Operating Systems, Analysis of Algorithms, Modern Information Retrieval, and Database Systems.
How did you find out about the Watson internship program?
For this summer, I was looking for a an opportunity to gain some quality work experience. A friend of mine, who worked as an intern at Watson last year, suggested that I look into this internship. So I visited the IBM internship programs portal, and I read though the available opportunities. I realized that the technical internship opportunities at Watson were perfectly aligned with my areas of interest. Moreover, I also have some good hands-on experience in related programming languages. So, I decided to apply for this position.
What was the application process like?
The application process was fairly straight forward. I applied, and I heard back from a HR recruiter within two weeks. My recruiter sent me a coding challenge through Codeview. The coding challenge involved coding questions, as well as technical theoretical questions for which I had to record video responses. Within three days of successfully completing the code challenge, I received communication from my recruiter about the next step in the interview process. My interview was two parts and over video chat: one and a half hour long technical interview with an engineer on the team, and a half hour long behavioral interview with a manager. The technical questions that my interviewer asked required me to apply real life applications to theoretical concepts that I learned in school.
What was the first day like?
On the first day, we were greeted by the whole office and we introduced ourselves in front of the office-wide stand up meeting. We also met our mentors. We were given some IBM Watson goodies and logo gear as well. In the afternoon we had some sessions where we met each other, our mentors, and we learned about the history of Watson to kick start the internship program. It was a great first day to the internship.
What project are you working on?
I worked with my mentors on the task of measuring, analyzing and improving the performance of an upcoming IBM Watson Developer Cloud service that is being released this fall. I had to set up various baselines for the performance measurements of this cloud service, as well as identify the bottlenecks and re-factor them in order to improve overall performance. During this project, I had to learn various JVM based languages like Scala and Groovy, build process automation technologies like Gradle, and also continuous integration technologies like Jenkins. In my final presentation in New York City, I will be presenting a few of my interesting finds, along with some statistics and optimization that I did. [All Watson interns will spend the final few days of their internship at the Watson headquarters at 51 Astor Place in NYC. They will have the opportunity to present their final projects to their peers, Watson engineers and executives.]
What’s been your favorite part about the summer so far?
I consider two things to be the coolest lessons out of my internship experience: First is the introduction to agile practices in a start-up like environment. In my opinion, this workplace is a perfect blend of a start-up culture and a well established tech giant culture. The second lesson is the License Report plugin that I contributed to. This is the first time that I’ve contributed to a project that is based on an open source technology. I learned a lot about Groovy and Gradle through this task, which was completely unfamiliar to me.
What has been the most challenging part about the summer?
The most challenging part of the summer for me is learning new programming languages, especially Scala. I’m much more familiar with Java. Java can be a bit verbose at times. On the contrary, Scala is a very powerful yet concise programming language. Shifting that gear was a challenging task for me.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
IBM Watson Pittsburgh is THE place to intern: I got exposure to a lot of cultural diversity, I had excellent mentors, and I got the opportunity to work on next generation technologies on a real project that is going to be released as a product.