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Ashwin Bhat is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering.
Adobe Internship Experience
Hi, I am Ashwin Bhat, from the Electrical Engineering department. I am a Dual Degree student (specialisation – Microelectronics) about to go into my 4th year at IIT-B. I secured a Summer Internship at Adobe Systems, Bangalore in the Research division. I have tried to jot down some important pointers based on my experience till now. I hope the reader finds them useful…
I had always wanted to work in an established firm to have a first-hand experience of how corporate life would be. Adobe is a well-known company because of its products like Photoshop and Acrobat Reader which we all use. While browsing Quora once, I came across a question regarding internship experiences at various software companies. Most answers regarding Adobe were quite favorable in the sense that their internship program is very structured and has evolved over the years. I had interned at a start-up in my 2nd year. I wanted a different experience this time. Not having much non-core enthu, I was left with two choices : either a research intern in a university or a company intern. Adobe provides a combination of both. It is a research oriented internship in a big company. Research oriented work does not tend to become monotonous. After discussing with seniors, I came to know that Adobe allowed interns to choose their own problem statement in a broad area which is assigned to them. Also, they aggressively try to secure patents for the work done by interns over the summer. The possibility of having my name as a contributor on a patent was enough to excite me about the internship. Also, Machine Learning and Big Data are trending research areas as of now and the Big-Data lab at Adobe, Bangalore has a good reputation for its work in these areas.
The Interview and the Selection Process
The selection process had three levels of screening. First of all, only those students with a CPI above 8.5 were allowed to sign the IAF. The shortlisted students were then supposed to attempt an online test which was hosted on HackerRank. It was an hour long test and the questions tested concepts of probability, data structures and general logic. After this, we had a telephonic interview. The interviewer asked me about my interests and then proceeded to ask a few technical questions. The questions were again based on probability and data structures & algorithms. Although it was telephonic, I got sufficient time to work out the problems. The interviewer shared a Google Doc with me and asked me to code for a particular problem. The emphasis was not on the syntax but on the thought process. Overall, it was quite a chill interview.
At the end of the interview, I had asked the interviewer a bit about the internship. Based on his description, it was clear to me that most of the projects would involve Machine Learning. Being from Electrical Engineering department, I had not formally studied the topic. Thus I had planned to do an online course on ML but could not manage to complete it. Now having completed just over a month of my internship, I feel it would be advisable to have some exposure to ML and Data Analytics before joining in order to have a smooth start.
The flight tickets were arranged by the company itself. They took into account the dates of our end-semester examinations before booking the tickets. Accommodation was provided for the initial two weeks at a nearby Hotel. It was a 3-star rated hotel and the stay was comfortable. Buses were arranged for our travel to and from the hotel to the office. Our mentors suggested some PGs to us for our stay for the remaining period. There are quite a few PGs close to the office. Many of them were newly constructed buildings and hence quite clean. The cost is very reasonable. I am currently staying with 4 other co-interns from IIT-B itself in a flat which is meant to house 7 people. It is at a walking distance from the office and hence travelling is not an issue. Lunch and dinner is provided free of cost in the office itself. Although the menu is quite repetitive, the taste is decent. Breakfast and snacks are available at subsidized rates. In addition to this, there is a pantry on every floor which is stacked with biscuits, beverages, fruits etc.
The project is to be done in groups of three. We are allotted a mentor and given a rough timeline. The broad area assigned to my group is ‘Sales Enablement using Marketing Data’. Sales enablement is a very recent, upcoming and trending topic in the marketing world which aims at bridging the marketing-sales gap to enhance sales productivity. The problem statement which we chose involves summarizing the ‘Customer Decision Journey’ and using data to prioritize the leads a Sales Representative is dealing with. The initial few weeks involve brainstorming in the broad area to look at various domains in which we can work to contribute to that field. After choosing a problem we also need to defend the problem in front of other members of the Big Data Lab. The defense involves conveying why we think our problem is hard, interesting & research worthy and what work is already going on in that area and what additional improvement would we bring about. After a successful defense, we move on to thinking of various solution alternatives. We look at prior art in both academia as well as industry. My group is currently at this stage. On the technical side the work involves a lot of Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning & Data Analytics. We are expected to provide a demo of our work by the end of our internship. The patent filing process usually begins after the demo.
The most interesting thing about the internship is that it gives a good insight into the various aspects of research work. Some of the perks I can think of include :-
- No fixed working hours – people generally work late because dinner is available for free
- Recreation room – foosball, TT, carrom, chess, pool table, carrom board and a gym. In addition to this there is a basketball court, cricket turf and rock-climbing on the rooftop.
- No dress code in the office
- Chill work environment & mentors are more like friends – in the problem defense I enacted Rocket Singh because our project was to aid salesmen!
- Mentor Treat & Intern Outing – After the problem defense, our mentor took us out for a lavish treat. Also, an outing is arranged for all the interns. This year we were taken to XLR8 indoor stadium. That too on a working day!
- What do we say to free pizza in Adobe ? EVERY SUNDAY! Its an incentive to work on sundays but most of us take unfair advantage out of it.
- If you are a travel buff, Adobe provides a list of places to visit and that too in a very unusual way. The meeting rooms on each floor are named after tourist destinations in Karnataka. Each floor has names starting with a particular alphabet, for example the tenth floor has places which begin with the letter ‘S’.