This summer, we had the pleasure of hosting 14 interns on our Engineering and Product teams! We consider it a part of Viam’s mission to help train future engineers and create a world with lower barriers to entry for improving the world through accessible smart machine technology. Our interns worked alongside full-timers to work on interesting projects to help build Viam’s platform. Before they left, I spoke with a few of them to learn about their experience this summer.
Meet the Interns Interviewed:
Emily Egan: So, first things first, tell me a little bit about the team you worked on this summer.
Julie Krasnick: Our team creates software development kits (SDKs) that provide idiomatic language wrappers which allow people to interact with robots in the language of their choice. Our goal is to enable access to robot functionality across a range of languages (including Python, C++, TypeScript, and Flutter). Our team is also responsible for secure and reliable communication between the clients (ex: computer, raspberry pi, a phone) and the robot.
Joyce Jiang: This summer, I interned on the Product Design team, where we work really closely with all of Viam's teams in the office to understand heuristic analysis and pain points to develop design solutions. Specifically, we work more closely with product managers and engineers to develop low and high fidelity wireframes, as well as the information architecture of a certain feature in order to lessen the cognitive workload for users on our platform.
Alex Jiang: I had the pleasure of interning on the product team this summer, which is a cross-functional team consisting of program managers, product managers, and product designers. As a product management intern, my responsibilities were centered around deciding what features the company should prioritize in order to achieve product-market fit.
Matt Perez: I worked on the RDK (Robot Development Kit) team this summer! They’re responsible for writing and maintaining Viam’s hardware drivers and component software. The members I worked with closely are tasked with getting Viam working on microcontrollers. It’s been incredibly exciting working with hardware, right on the metal.
Vignesh Pandiarajan: I interned on the Computer Vision team this summer! The CV team takes input from various sensors and cameras and extracts useful information through services.
Emily Egan: Sounds fun! So, what was your favorite project or feature that you worked on?
Julie Krasnick: The Viam Mobile App! Basically it is a way to control a robot you built through a mobile application.
Joyce Jiang: My favorite feature that I worked on at Viam is rethinking the entire fragments experience at Viam to share configuration settings across multiple robots. The documentation that I worked on this summer thought through many edge cases and workflows that could possibly exist regarding fragments, from an individual creating, using, and modifying a fragment. Although this feature isn't as prioritized in Viam's features, the work that I've been doing really shows the potential that it can bring to the platform and it was really exciting that I was able to work on it.
Alex Jiang: My responsibilities included conducting market research, flagging usability issues, meeting with engineers and designers to gain alignment on projects, mapping out user flows, and scoping out new features. Projects I worked on involved software concepts that I had to learn about, such as databases, machine learning, and robot hardware. The most enjoyable part of my job was how people-oriented it was. I spent hours each week meeting with all different types of people in the company to inform my decisions on what features the company should prioritize.
Matt Perez: I worked on two projects this summer; adding webhook functionality and adding modular driver support to the Micro-RDK. The Micro-RDK is a lightweight version of Viam’s RDK that can run on microcontrollers such as Espressif’s ESP32. While the two projects are on opposite sides of the spectrum (external flexibility vs internal modularity), both are ultimately aimed at the same thing; empowering users to extend Viam’s capabilities to suit their needs.
Vignesh Pandiarajan: This summer I worked on Obstacle Detection Models. The obstacle detection models provide the user with a way to grab location information about the obstacles that may exist surrounding their robot. I experimented with 2D cameras, RGB-D cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and wrote code so that robots won't bump into you, even if you walk right in front of them.
Emily Egan: How has Viam provided mentorship to you this summer?
Julie Krasnick: My mentor has been incredibly welcoming and helpful during my time here. We meet weekly to discuss how my internship is going and how life in NYC is! He pushes me to challenge myself and is always available to help when I need it.
Joyce Jiang: The mentorship during the internship has been great - I've felt like a full-time member of the team since the beginning of my internship. I know that I'm able to ask any questions that I have without feeling looked down upon, and am comfortable with bringing up any issues that I have. I've also seen the growth in both my professional corporate career and product design specific skill sets from the mentorship of my manager and working at Viam this summer.
Alex Jiang: My mentorship has been great during my internship! My mentor taught me so much by working with me on projects, providing detailed feedback, and inviting me to her meetings with various teams. She checks in with me often to sync on my projects and provides me with opportunities to grow and learn hands-on through practice.
Matt Perez: My mentor was awesome. I've definitely learned a lot from him, not only in working with hardware and embedded systems but how to manage my time and attention better. I also feel that the others in the team played an active role in mentoring me throughout my time here and made the experience more enjoyable.
Vignesh Pandiarajan: My mentor is one of the smartest people I've ever met. Everyone on my team has been great, always willing to help and super knowledgeable about anything I might ask about. They're very encouraging and I can bounce ideas off of them whenever I'm not so sure about things.
Emily Egan: One of the cool parts about our company is that we are headquartered in New York City! What’s been your favorite part about interning in NYC so far?
Julie Krasnick: I love strolling through Central Park! It is a breath of fresh air from the busy city life and luckily very close to the office :)
Alex Jiang: Honestly everything! There's always so much to do here, and I've been able to try something new almost every week. The food scene is incredible, and I enjoy going to various events like comedy clubs, concerts, and pop ups. I've met some amazing people in the city and have been able to hang out with my college and intern friends on the weekends.
Matt Perez: I've really enjoyed having so many culinary options here. From Chinatown, Little Italy, and K-Town to Ethiopian, Thai, and Japanese.
Emily Egan: We have had a lot of fun as an intern group! What’s been your favorite activity so far?
Julie Krasnick: Scott’s Pizza Tour
Joyce Jiang: The escape room activity! It was really fun witnessing the initial miscommunication about missing puzzle pieces to all of us working together towards the end to figure out how to escape.
Alex Jiang: It's a tough decision, but I'd say the yacht ride across the Hudson. We passed by the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and various other landmarks. It was a great bonding experience for the interns, and the food was great!
Emily Egan: How would you describe the interview process to someone who may be interested in an internship with us next year?
Joyce Jiang: Personally, the interview process wasn't stressful at all and more just like a regular conversation. My (now) mentor and I talked about such a variety of things during my first interview that I almost forgot I was interviewing for an internship position. I had two initial phone screen calls with a recruiter and my potential mentor, a portfolio review with the broader design team, and a final interview with one of Viam's product managers.
Vignesh Pandiarajan: The interview process was very smooth. From the initial phone call to the final interviews, everyone was super professional and friendly. All my interviewers were not only helpful, but were willing to answer questions about the company and about what work would actually be like.
Emily Egan: How does this internship compare to others that you have had?
Julie Krasnick: Compared to other internships, Viam is focused on how they can help me grow into a better individual and software engineer, rather than just focusing on how I can help them as a company. People at the office are genuinely interested in getting to know you and make you feel comfortable at work.
Matt Perez: This has been the best internship (and general employment experience) that I've ever had. The people are intelligent and collaborative, and the problems and projects are interesting and exciting.
Interested in joining Viam’s Internship Program?
We have opened the Software Engineering Intern role for the summer of 2024! If you are interested in helping build the future of smart machine software, we encourage you to apply here.