Carnegie Mellon University

interns at Visa

October 11, 2016

CMU-SV students land summer internships at top Bay Area companies

Silicon Valley is a fusion of technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. So it makes sense that Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus (CMU-SV) is where sunshine and sand meet technological strides and student success.

In summer 2016, many master’s students from CMU-SV landed internships at top companies in the Bay Area—companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Visa, Apple, and Uber. Four students in particular found their internship experiences, coupled with their time at CMU-SV, to be a story worth sharing. 


Lifei Chen is a master’s student in electrical and computer engineering. He spent his summer as an intern at Facebook, applying his technical skill set to projects that merged into real production and had an impact on Facebook’s 1.7 billion users. Aside from learning new technical tools and writing code in multiple languages, Chen learned to work quickly without being afraid to break things.

“Facebook emphasizes the idea of ‘moving fast’, so every intern needed to move quickly during their 12-week internship,” said Chen. “They also encourage interns to break things, offering opportunities like intern hackathons, where we had the chance to demonstrate our final projects to CEO Mark Zuckerberg directly.”

With his particular interest in machine learning, Chen worked on an algorithm that recognizes celebrities in live videos, and then uses the recognition results to provide users with video recommendations. He credits the Cloud Computing course he took at CMU-SV for giving him the practical experience of learning new technical skills in a limited amount of time and finishing projects one by one under high pressure—similar to the status in real industry.


Fan Luo, who will graduate from CMU-SV’s Software Engineering master’s program in December, was interested in Twitter because of its reputable technical stack and its impacts on open-source techniques. After five rounds of interviews and some help from his mentor and from Career Services, he landed the extremely competitive position.

Luo’s project at Twitter impacted actual customers. He worked on accelerating a function on Twitter’s site that delivers historical data to users. Because of the original backend design, the more data the function received as time went on, the slower the feature responded. To make improvements, Luo redesigned the database schema, refactored the back and front ends of the system, migrated data, and deployed the system—the same workload of a full-stack engineer.

“What I enjoy most about living, working, and going to school in Silicon Valley is how close my life is to the cutting-edge IT industry,” said Luo. “No matter where we are, school or company, my peers are always brilliant and diligent, and I feel that we can achieve any ideas with each other’s support.”


Kevin Ramdass came specifically to CMU-SV to pursue a master’s degree in Software Engineering. He quickly learned that being located in Silicon Valley is a unique circumstance—innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities are all around.

Ramdass interned at Google on the AdSpam team during the summer, which is the team responsible for catching fraudulent parties trying to “game” the advertising ecosystem for financial gain. He credits the Android course and the Software Validation Verification and Testing course at CMU-SV for preparing him for the internship. Interacting with the network of alumni and students who previously worked or interned at Google also helped Ramdass get a feel for what the internship would be like.

“What I really enjoy about Silicon Valley is the startup culture and how it is part of everyday life. For example, restaurants in the area are not afraid to try out a new payment system that is being developed by the startup down the street,” said Ramdass. “In general, everyone in the Bay Area sees the value technology can bring and are really welcoming to innovation.”


Ishwari Aghav’s summer internship at Visa helped her realize the impact that both Visa and technology as a whole have on the world. Currently enrolled in the electrical and computer engineering master’s program, she wishes to pursue a career in data engineering after she graduates.

Ishwari was a member of Visa’s Data Provisioning team, which handles the large amount of incoming transaction data on a day-to-day basis. She worked with their data warehouse and other projects involving making additions and changes to the existing data architecture.

“Silicon Valley is a melting pot of people, ideas, and cultures,” said Ishwari. “There are many events happening around the valley, and being able to participate in hackathons and conferences helps us interact with the industry professionals and experts. Subsequently, this helps us get a bird’s-eye view of the current happenings and gives us a better idea of what we want to pursue while studying, as well as after graduation.” 


Chen, Luo, Ramdass, and Ishwari are just four of the many CMU-SV students who have taken advantage of internship and other opportunities present at Carnegie Mellon in Silicon Valley. And all four agree that by living, working, and studying so close to the Bay Area, they get to witness and foster the impact technology can have. 

Story originally published here.