This summer, we interviewed a number of Olin students who were interning at various companies around the country. Senior Ryan Louie was an intern at Uber, working in Advanced Tech in Pittsburgh, PA.
What was a typical day like?
I would get to work around 9:00 AM. I worked in software engineering, so most of the morning was getting through a checklist of code I needed to work on. I worked in Advanced Technology, on the self-driving car support system. Lunch was provided at the office, so the interns often had scheduled lunches with people higher-up at Uber. After that I would meet with a mentor or my team and test the day’s work done on the vehicle. I usually stayed until six or seven in the evening.
How did you get the internship?
Uber came over to Olin at the career fair last fall, and I had relevant experience, got through the resume check and then through a technical phone interview with an Uber engineer. Actually, it was Andrew Heine, another Olin alum. I got the internship because I went to Olin!
What have you learned?
This internship has helped me gain the ability to navigate a larger company. I’ve never worked at a company with more than twenty people, so I’ve learned to make a big company feel small by reaching out to people. I learned how to learn and got much more comfortable asking a lot of questions. My biggest successes at Uber did not revolve around coding, it was about connecting the dots on things other people worked out. For example, they told us the first day: “Don’t be a hero. In other words don't waste your time trying to figure out something on your own, when you can easily ask for guidance from a more experienced co-worker who’s been there before.”I think the internship also taught me a lot about what most interests me in both a project and a work environment. It’s so cool to be on a project where everyone’s trying to move the ball forward. That kind of attitude really affects the community in a positive way.
What was your biggest frustration?
One thing that is frustrating is “reorganization”, which is when you get put on different projects and the stuff you were working on before becomes less relevant to the grand scope of things. There were so many cool things to do, and so many talented people there, that I just wanted to work on the things they worked on. I was also surprised by how much I liked the system aspect of what I was doing. At first I thought I really wanted to be working on the autonomous algorithms (which the PhD interns were working on), yet I eventually learned that every part of the project was exciting. Together with another Oliner, we had full responsibility of architecture decisions. Because the nature of the project spanned many different components of the system, we had a unique opportunity to see the details of how all the infrastructure worked; and because our work was new and visually catchy, there was a lot of excitement from many coworkers we talked to.