Andy Vo, Research Scientist/Engineer Intern, Adobe
Andy Vo (MIMS ’24) spent the summer as a Research Scientist/Engineer Intern at Adobe.
Describe a typical day at your internship.
As I arrive into the office and tap my badge through the gates, I am greeted by friendly faces across different business units and organizations of Adobe. Up to the 7th floor of Founders Tower, I grab a fresh yogurt parfait and nice Vietnamese iced coffee and head up to my desk on the 10th floor. Keyboard – out. Mouse – out. Laptop – out, and plugged into the monitor. I most likely pushed some code or opened up a pull request last night so let me check in on Outlook and the #andy-internship-2023 Slack channel with my mentors to see if there’s anything new to review. If not, I’m going to merge my code and start a new feature for my project.
By 11AM, I’m hopping into my project sprint check-in to update my mentors before heading down to lunch. We usually save the last twenty minutes to discuss the most important issue of the day: what’s for lunch? Queuing up early for lunch, we usually skip the long lines by noon. I won’t lie; eating lunch there reminded me of eating in dining halls and school cafeterias pre-COVID times. After lunch, my friends and I book a conference room in one of the buildings with an almost panoramic view. Over the next four to five hours, we focus on work; we make fun of each other; we try to make post-work plans; and we get our meetings done. Now, it’s onto some activities after work hours. However, I will always make sure to get a few more things done when I get back home! Onto the next day…
What was the most valuable thing you learned at your internship?
The most valuable thing I learned at my internship at Adobe was how important it is to really connect with people and build intentional relationships that last because we never know who we could run into in the future. Wherever life takes us, it is critical to not only expand our network and meet new people, but also to keep in touch with those who we want to learn more about and to learn more from. As interns, we are surrounded by the next generation of leaders and thinkers who are going to see each other again after the summer ends.
What was the biggest challenge?
Honestly, the biggest challenge this summer was the creative freedom I had on my project. Last summer, I contributed to Red Hat’s open source design library system, and through that, I was guided through a very robust pipeline of getting work done and learning industry best practices on building out component features and tests with React.js TypeScript. This summer, I’m implementing Adobe’s design library system into a new project with a significantly smaller team. For me, that meant being the only one in charge of the frontend development. My mentors were incredible resources, but I felt like I had so much more to learn to really handle everything here. I realized that I’ve been in this situation quite a bit before. Often, I’d find myself spearheading entire projects throughout all of my time in undergrad. My mentors trusted me with that task and as I kept building out new interfaces and logic, I grew more confident in my own ability.
How did your work at the I School prepare you for this role?
I really have to thank two courses, in particular Product Design Studio and Lean/Agile Product Management, for teaching me how to confidently present my design decisions and how to better understand business needs for future goal-setting and strategy planning. Working on a small team leading the frontend development of a project, I frequently found myself explaining my designs as I drafted them on Figma and the same as I built out the feature designs in Svelte.js TypeScript.
Any advice for next years MIMS students as they prepare for their internships?
My biggest advice is to coffee chat and connect early. Additionally, take the elective courses! Take the ones you are interested in! This graduate program has a unique benefit of being very focused on getting you the skills and mindset to jump into tech. While I did not take the frontend development course, I am sure it would be a great resource for anyone seeking a frontend position at a tech company, or honestly any company recruiting for the role.
Did your internship influence your career plans after graduation?
Yes! I learned the stark difference between research engineers and software engineers. While we possess similar skill sets and usage of tools, frameworks, models, and languages, I found that research engineering projects can be a much more isolating task. Adobe researchers are often doing their own research, whereas software engineers on the Photoshop or Premiere Pro team, for example, are working alongside numerous engineers and product managers to navigate their tasks.