Last Monday marked the beginning of summer here on the LiveRamp engineering team. The first three of our ten summer interns arrived eager to get started working alongside our full-time engineers on challenging problems of distributed computing, machine learning, data visualization, and more.
We’ve been operating an engineering intern program since the creation of the company. While it requires a substantial investment of time and energy, it’s been remarkably successful achieving its two primarily, interrelated goals: first, to provide every one of our interns with an excellent experience learning, making meaningful contributions, and having lots of fun; and second, to help us identify and recruit top university talent to our team.
How successful has the program been? These two metrics each exceed our wildest aspirations:
- Over 3,000 students across the country applied for ten slots in our 2014 summer intern class.
- Just over half the members of our 23-person engineering team began with us as interns sometime over the past eight years.
Recruiting the class
Fundamentally, we are seeking interns with the same attributes we look for in full-time applicants: technical capability, excellent communication skills, and a constructive, team-oriented attitude. We recruit from top universities across the country, and applicants move through a process of a written interview, two phone screens, and a coding exercise. Each step filters out between 50 and 90 percent of candidates. (I conduct the second phone screen and I have personally interviewed every intern candidate who receives an offer.) We aspire to give every candidate a respectful and responsive experience throughout the entire process.
Our ultimate hope, of course, is to attract a full class of students who each have a high likelihood of being successful members of our team.
Running the program
We expect every intern to learn a tremendous amount, to make meaningful contributions to our systems, and to have a ton of fun over the course of their internship. In addition to receiving a week-long orientation, every intern is paired one-on-one with a full-time engineer who acts as their mentor and manager. The intern and mentor are in close contact throughout the day, and meet more formally every week. All of us at LiveRamp look for feedback on our performance to help us learn to improve, and our interns are no exception. In addition to regular feedback, interns receive a written review halfway through their experience so that they have a substantive opportunity to focus on their areas for improvement.
Interns work alongside their mentors and the other full-time members of their team, contributing to the same set of projects and priorities. Interns are treated as full-fledged members of the engineering team, and as they become familiar with our code base and demonstrate their capability, they will find no limit to the opportunity to take on ever-larger projects and responsibilities.
While we have had many spectacular interns in the past, I believe the class of 2014 is our strongest ever, and I am tremendously excited for this summer.
Meanwhile, we are constantly recruiting. Although most interns join us for the summer, we welcome interns any time of year as long as they can join us full-time for a minimum of ten weeks.
And before long we will begin recruiting for the summer intern class of 2015!