Recent interns of our undergraduate and graduate programs answer some questions about recent internships and share valuable insights.

Student/Intern major/degree internship title & Employer semester
Osama Khalid PhD - Computer Science Software Engineer - Google Summer 2023
Shihui Song PhD - Computer Science Research Aid - Argonne National Laboratory Summer 2023
Benjamin Wilson-Langman 4th Year - Data Science Software Engineer - Walmart Global Tech Summer 2023

Quoc Vu

3rd Year - Computer Science BA Service Engineer - Collins Aerospace Summer 2023
Madison Krohn 2nd Year - Computer Science BS Software Engineer - Northwestern Mutual Summer 2023
Patrick Foster 4th Year - Computer Science BA | BAIS BBA Software Engineer Intern - GoDaddy | JP Morgan Summer 2023 | 2022
What's New... with you? We’d love to hear from you! You may use this form to notify CS staff and chair of awards for research work; notable publications (e.g., "Best Paper"); and other academic, career, or research-related achievements. 
Osama Khalid, pictured at a trail marker - at intersection of Bay Area Peak and Ridge Trails - submitted

Osama Khalid

Major(s): PhD - Computer Science
Advisor: Padmini Srinivasan
Q&A date: Fall 2023

What did a typical day look like as a Software Engineering Intern at Google?

I think my daily routine was quite typical of the tech industry in general. I would go to work at 9am, grab a coffee by 9:30, have a daily check-in with my intern host, work till 1pm, have lunch till 2, go back to work till 5. And after 5, completely disconnect from work, which is a luxury I can't afford in my regular grad life.

How did you navigate securing multiple internships within the same company?

For the first internship, I applied! (This is very critical, see response to question 4). And gave 2-3 tech interviews. After that I was assigned a recruiter and put in the team-matching pool. I wasn't particularly happy with the teams my recruiter was trying to match me to, so I started reaching out to various people at Google, whose work I liked to see if they were looking for interns. Once I got a positive response, that was it.

By the second internship, I was more familiar with the process, so it was easier, Additionally, because of my performance during the first internship, I didn't have to give the tech interviews. The rest of the process was the same as the first time.

How has your experience aided you since returning to study at the University of Iowa?

During my internship, I honed the tools and skillset that I have been using in my research work. This is not just limited to the technical skills I acquired, but also at a broader level, my understanding of the implication and impact of my work.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

I think the most important skill I developed during both my internships was handling Natural Language Processing (NLP) problems at Google's scale. My research generally has focused on problems at a much smaller scale. Adapting my skillset to deal with problems at that scale was quite an interesting technical challenge.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

I think the most important thing to do is to apply. Personally, I think one of the main reasons I didn't interview for internships during the first couple of years of my PhD was that I was too caught up in the idea that the tech interviews are hard, complicated and require a lot of preparation and I should only apply once I am fully prepared. Yes! the interviews do require some preparation, and you can prepare as much as you want, but the preparation is of no use if you don't actually apply!

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

I loved the free food. I am quite embarrassed to admit that I managed to gain quite a few pounds over the summer because of the amazing food they had. The Google campus in California is quite close to the Sierra Nevadas. I spent almost every weekend hiking through the mountains of California, trying to burn some of those extra pounds off.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Google?

Definitely. Even though I like academia, I think what I actually love is working on problems that have real-world impact. At least in NLP, the work being done in the industry at that scale is far more exciting for me.

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Shihui Song portrait - submitted

Shihui Song

Major(s): PhD - Computer Science
Advisor: Peng Jiang
Q&A date: Fall 2023

What did a typical day look like as a Research Aid at Argonne National Laboratory?

As a Research Aid at Argonne National Laboratory, my typical day was quite dynamic. I primarily focused on researching Cerebras, an advanced AI chip. This involved a combination of tasks such as running simulations, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and collaborating with fellow researchers.

How did you navigate securing multiple internships within the same company?

Securing multiple internships at the same company, such as Argonne National Laboratory, requires effective communication, networking, and demonstrating consistent dedication to your work. I maintained open communication with my supervisors and expressed my strong interest in returning for another summer. I also kept my skills and knowledge up to date, which helped me prove my value to the team.

How has your experience aided you since returning to study at the University of Iowa?

My experience at Argonne National Laboratory has been incredibly valuable in my academic pursuits at the University of Iowa. I gained a deep understanding of cutting-edge technology in the field of AI chips and advanced computational methods. This has significantly enhanced my coursework and research capabilities, allowing me to apply real-world knowledge to my studies. Additionally, I developed effective time management, problem-solving, and communication skills during my internship, which have proven highly beneficial in my university studies.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

During my internship at Argonne National Laboratory, I honed various technical and soft skills. Some of the skills I developed or enhanced include:

  1. Advanced Computational Skills: Working with a supercomputer helped me improve my computational skills for data analysis and simulations.
  2. Research Methodologies: I learned how to design, conduct, and document research experiments effectively.
  3. Data Analysis: I gained proficiency in processing and analyzing large datasets.
  4. Teamwork and Collaboration: I enhanced my ability to work in interdisciplinary teams and communicate complex ideas effectively.
  5. Time Management: Balancing research tasks, experiments, and analysis improved my time management skills.
  6. Critical Thinking: My work required me to think critically and solve complex problems efficiently.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

Begin your internship search well in advance to secure opportunities at top organizations. Tailor your resume to highlight relevant skills and experiences for the specific internship you're applying for. Practice answering common interview questions and be ready to discuss your skills and interests.

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my internship at Argonne National Laboratory was the opportunity to work on innovative AI chip technology and contribute to groundbreaking research. I also appreciated the collaborative and intellectually stimulating environment, where I could exchange ideas with accomplished researchers. This made every day exciting and fulfilling.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Argonne National Laboratory?

The experiences and knowledge I've gained during my internships have deepened my interest in the work they do. Argonne's commitment to cutting-edge research aligns with my long-term career goals, and I hope to contribute to their ongoing advancements in the field. I look forward to exploring opportunities for continued collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory.

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Benjamin Wilson-Langman

Major(s): 4th Year - Data Science
Q&A date: Fall 2023

What did a typical day look like as a Software Engineer Intern at Walmart?

My average day began at around 9am: I'd grab a coffee from the lobby or cafeteria, get settled at my desk, and catch up on emails and team chats until standup at around 9:45. If you're unfamiliar; "standup" is a short meeting, 15 minutes for my team, in which we'd share the progress we made in the last workday and get any input we needed from teammates. After that, the day was pretty unstructured. Generally, I'd work on my given task or project for a few hours, occasionally discussing problems I'd run into with a senior developer, and then grab lunch for about an hour in the early afternoon. After that, sometimes I'd have an intern event, and then it was right back to meetings or my task. I'd generally be done for the day at around 4pm, which gave me plenty of time to pursue errands or recreational activities for the rest of the day.

How did you navigate securing this internship?

After applying mid-Fall, I had three separate interviews before receiving an offer. The first interview, behavioral, was mostly simple problem-solving and psych questions to give the recruiter a basic understanding of myself. I then had a take-home coding test, in which I had about an hour to solve two coding problems and a few multiple-choice questions. Seemingly satisfied with my performance so far, I received an invite to my final interview about a week later; a live coding interview. This was fairly similar to the take-home, but this time I just had one problem to solve while a software engineer at Walmart watched and discussed my approach as I answered the problem. I think it's important to note that I was by no means a perfect programmer throughout these last two interviews; I made my fair share of mistakes, but I managed to address these by explaining to the interviewer why I got stuck, and how I think I could address it given more time. A good deal of time after my offer, about March/April, I got placed with a team and manager, and started preparing for the upcoming summer.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

I think the most important skill I learned during my internship was communication. With how many different levels of accountability there are at large companies like Walmart, from coworkers to directors, it was important to communicate my ideas and progress clearly and concisely with everyone. This also helped me deal with problems quickly as they popped up, as I already had ongoing conversations with most of the people I would have needed to reach out to.

I also had many opportunities to improve upon software development skills I learned in my studies at Iowa, as well as learn new ones. With my internship work mostly focusing on cloud processes and backend server apps, this meant that I was mostly focused on improving upon my Java fluency, as well as learning and using Spring Boot, Kafka, and bash scripting.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

Sell yourself well! Your resume and application are typically what get you your first interview. Make sure you highlight specific technologies and services you're experienced with on your resume, especially if it's relevant to the job opening! Application screening is often done by a computer, and it's looking for keywords in your resume that match whatever the recruiters are looking for. Even if you don't have a particular project or work experience to highlight these experiences, a "skills" list can provide a way to bring attention to other programming languages or other software engineering skills you're familiar with.

Besides that, get familiar with coding assessments like HackerRank or CodeSignal. Like ACTs/SATs, these are used by companies as a standardized way to compare candidates' aptitude. However, also like ACTs/SATs, they often rely more on your test-taking ability than actual aptitude. As such, it's important to get a good grasp on what kind of problems you need to solve for these assessments, and how you can go about completing them well in the time allotted.

At the end of the day, though, there's always an element of luck. Try not to get discouraged if you only get one interview for every 10, 20, 50 applications. Just keep applying and learn from your successes so you can improve on the process over time.

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

My favorite part about my internship at Walmart [Global Tech] was my team. My fellow interns, full-time coworkers, and managers were all incredibly welcoming and always lent a helping hand whenever I was stuck or confused.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Walmart?

Sure! Walmart is a big company, with plenty of opportunities to grow and progress in a tech career. My team (that I'd likely return to) was lovely, and the compensation/benefits are more than reasonable.

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Quoc Vu portrait - submitted

Quoc Vu

Major(s): 3rd Year - Computer Science BA
Q&A date: Fall 2023

What was a typical day as a Service Engineering co-op at Collins Aerospace?

My team was mostly remote. There was really only one or two other people that showed up to the office—my day consisted of 2-3 meetings and some work. That work would consist of an ongoing project and some other daily routine work offloaded by some senior engineers. It wasn’t non-stop work, however, I did take quick breaks here and there to talk to other departments and my other co-workers to see what they were working on.

How did you secure multiple internships within the same company?

I attended last year’s career fair, where I met my manager. She told me I stood out from the rest of the candidates because I knew how to hold a conversation, was confident, and had unorthodox experience in developing my soft skills. The only professional experience I had up to that point was six years of stocking at Fareway, a grocery store. She found how I was able to use that experience in my current field unique.

My manager stated that an internship or a co-op is basically a test to see if they want to keep you as a full-time employee. She was satisfied with my performance and offered me to stay on her team and is helping me secure an internship at a different department in our Cedar Rapids location.

How has your experience aided you since returning to the University of Iowa?

Honestly, it hasn’t. Maybe if it was a software engineering co-op, it might have. But I loved every bit of working in Service Engineering and working full time. My co-op gave me a little taste of what freedom tasted like, and now that I’m back to being a student, I hate being in college even more.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

Using resources to get coding projects done, communicating, and asking questions.

What tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

If you feel like you’re behind your peers, it’s okay! I felt like I saw all my classmates having much more experience than me—Leetcode solutions every day, coding since high school, and straight A’s. That’s not me, and I was terrified! However, I learned that most of those guys might be smarter than me, but they might not know how to hold a conversation or function within a team. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and make yourself stand out as a candidate by having a personality.

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

I just enjoyed having a very consistent routine and not being in college. My team was very lovely and enjoyable to talk to. We met outside of work for events and such. It was my first time being on my own and feeling like an adult. It was awesome.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Collins Aerospace?

Absolutely, I can. My team and I did a lot of talking about different careers available within the company and I enjoy being part of it.

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 Madison Krohn

Madison Krohn portrait - submitted

Major(s): 2nd Year - Computer Science BS
Q&A date: Fall 2023

What did a typical day look like as a Software Engineer at Northwestern Mutual?

My team was required to go into the office every Tuesday and the rest of the week we would either work from home or go into the office. Regardless of if we were in the office or working from home, we would start the day with stand-up. In the stand-up meetings, we would share what we worked on the day before and what we planned to work on that day. We would also share if there were any important meetings coming up that others might want to join in on and if we needed help with anything as well. After stand-up, we would work on our own things. During my internship, I was tasked with creating this microapp for their tax configuration in the New York Metro Area and most of my day was spent working on finishing the app. I would usually take lunch at 11, and if I was in the office, I would either get lunch with my team or fellow college interns as well.

How did you navigate securing multiple internships within the same company?

When I was in high school, I was a part of a program called Girls Who Code and we learned about different coding skills for 11 weeks during the winter. The program then shared that they had this opportunity for a “Hi, Tech” minicamp over the summer at Northwestern Mutual. During the minicamp, I met other high school juniors and seniors that had a passion for coding and wanted to see what their future could look like in the technology field. We learned many coding skills such as how to use CSS, HTML, and JavaScript to build mini projects to help us understand the languages better. Towards the end of the minicamp, everyone had the chance to have mock interviews and we all got placed in a team for a mini-internship and got to work on our own without the minicamp team. I was placed on a cyber security team and worked with testing their forms that users would use to report if they were traveling

for the company and their reason. My senior year of high school I had the chance to have an internship block every other day and I reached out to my coordinator from Northwestern Mutual during the minicamp, and she helped me secure an internship on one of the teams that my instructor from the minicamp worked on. During that time when I was working, I mostly was learning how to apply my skills I knew to programs that helped the team. Even though it was mini tasks to do, I improved many skills both involving coding and personal skills such as communication and teamwork. I was offered to work that summer of my senior year and continued to work on the same team and even got the chance to come into the office to work. Last summer I reached out to my boss from the last internship and asked if I could come back from the summer as a college intern and he connected me to the university relations team that handled all the college internships. During my summer at NM, it was more based around building our professional skills and skills relating to our roles as well. I met many fellow interns and listened to different speakers relating to the technology field that were at the company. I think with my internship at a corporate company, I got to see what a job in the technology field would look like in this big aspect. I would recommend the college internship to anyone that wants to see how their major would fit at a big company such as Northwestern Mutual.

How has your experience aided you since returning to study at the University of Iowa?

During my internships at Northwestern Mutual, I felt like I learned many professional skills that have helped me become a better public speaker and taught me how to communicate better with others. By working with a team, together and one-on-one, I have learned how to work proficiently to all reach our target goals for our various projects we had going on. Transitioning back to Iowa I feel like the communication skills I learned have helped me be able to speak up in class and work well with others on projects overall.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern?

Overall, I feel like I learned many communication skills as well as further improved my coding knowledge. By working alongside other employees, I learned about collaborating and sharing ideas/constructive criticism with them as well.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships?

I think that it is never too early to apply for internships. Even if you do not end up getting the position, it is a great way to improve your interview skills and get connected with people in the field. I would say to create a LinkedIn profile that can help you look for jobs and show off your skills and achievements to employers. Also, looking at Handshake can be helpful to find openings as people are always reaching out and looking for students to fill their internship opportunities.

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

My favorite aspect of my internship was meeting fellow interns from all over the country and from different schools. At the end of the internship this year, we had an intern showcase where we presented what we did over the summer to co-workers, and it was like a science fair-type set-up. When I was not presenting on my day, I went and listened to the other interns talk and it was cool to learn what they had been doing with their time at Northwestern Mutual.

Can you see yourself in a future career with Northwestern Mutual?

I do think I could see myself with a future career with Northwestern Mutual or a similar company. I am glad that I had the chance to be able to come back to such a great company for multiple opportunities and could grow my professional career as well.

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Patrick Foster

Major(s): 4th Year - Computer Science BA | BAIS BBA
Q&A date: Fall 2023

Tell us about yourself and how you got into Computer Science.

I came to the University of Iowa as a Business Major. I was always interested in building software; however, I viewed that as just a hobby. During my freshman year, I started pursuing this hobby by taking an online web development course in my free time. I soon became engulfed in the programming world, building websites left and right. One day, I decided to apply for an SWE internship at JPMorgan on a whim. When I landed the job, I decided to go full-time on computer science and promptly switched my major.

Since my freshman year, programming has only become more prevalent in my life. I’ve done Hackathons, built 15+ full-stack websites, worked for GoDaddy in Seattle, and will work for Netflix when I graduate this year.

What did a typical day look like as an intern at GoDaddy/JP Morgan?

It’s your classic 9-5 job. I usually code for a few hours in the morning, then attend meetings, and finish the day by coding some more. I take frequent breaks throughout the day by socializing with the other interns and playing foosball.

How has your experience aided you since returning to study at the University of Iowa? 

Having real-world experience helps to place my class material into the context of the real world. For example, learning about Agile methodologies in my software development class was much more intuitive as I’ve already worked on a team using Agile.

What skills did you develop or enhance during your time as an intern? 

To land all three positions, I had to ace my technical interviews by effectively solving data structures and algorithm questions. These questions could include derivations of Dijkstra’s algorithm or finding the largest subsequence of a list of numbers. Given how few interviews I got each year, I knew this skill set had to be flawless. I estimate I’ve spent around 200 hours practicing Leetcode-styled questions.

Additionally, this independent study of algorithms made my coursework at Iowa more intuitive. Classes such as Programming Language Concepts, Software Development, Data Structures, or Algorithms became easier as I had the skillset to solve complex problems using code.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing you learned during your time as an intern? 

Last summer, I was placed on one of GoDaddy’s most senior teams. Given their seniority, it was intimidating to suggest counterarguments to their decisions. Furthermore, my team intuitively knew how something should be built, meaning their specifications for my projects were ambiguous. To be able to communicate effectively, I had to be both to be assertive, confident, and thorough. Without effective communication, I would’ve done something wrong, and my superiors would’ve watered down my opinions.

What helpful tips do you have for current students seeking internships? 

Use these resources religiously:

What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

I’ve interned in both Seattle and Chicago these last two summers. These experiences allowed me to travel the country and meet other programmers with diverse backgrounds. Getting such a breadth of viewpoints on the world and its technology has been eye-opening.

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