Summer Spotlight - MacREU

This week we are talking with Mina about her experience so far at MacREU

Aaroh Mankad


Hello! I'm Carmina Jean delos Santos, but people just call me Mina. I'm an incoming second year Computer Engineering major. My technical interests include VLSI and embedded systems. This summer, I have been working as a microelectronics research fellow, under the Materials Connection Research Experience for Undergraduate Students (MacREU) program. The program funds my project, which revolves around chip optimization.

Interview Process

I have been working in Dr. Bartels’s research lab since Winter Quarter, and he recommended me to the program.

Culture & Work Life

The program itself is very initiative-based; there is no determined schedule. MacREU aims to emulate life as a graduate student, conducting your own experiment and obtaining results for your own project. At the end of the program, we are to present our findings at a research symposium.


My project is “Transition Metal Dichalcogenide (TMD) Integrated Waveguides for Optical On-Chip and Inter-Chip Communication.

To preface, TMDs are 2D semiconductors. They are widely studied as a replacement for Silicon, which is no longer semiconducting at a certain width. The integration of TMDs in microelectronics would allow us to go even smaller with our computing hardware.

Instead of transmitting data using copper wires, we want to use optical waveguides lined with a TMD. Think of it as fiber optics on the nanoscale.

Using TMD integrated waveguides instead of copper wires, we escape a lot of copper wire’s flaws, which involve data loss and the inability go smaller. Additionally, because light has different wavelengths/a larger bandwidth, this opens up to a future of quantum computing, should.


MacREU is hosted on the UCR campus, and my lab is in Pierce Hall. Even though it’s a little too familiar of a place to be, especially during summer, I like that I run into a lot of my friends taking summer courses or working in the area.

I primarily work in Pierce Hall and in the Cleanroom.

Summer Spotlight - Informatica

This week we are talking with Will and Patrick about their experiences so far at Informatica.

Informatica is a world leader in Enterprise Cloud Data Management. Informatica develops various products related in Big Data, Cloud Services, and all things Data (Integration, Quality, Security, and Management). Its products are used by all of the Fortune 10 companies and 85 of the Fortune 100.


William: My name is William Shiao and I am a computer science major about to start my third year this fall. My interests within computer science are in machine learning, algorithms, security and web development. I am interning as a Software Engineering Intern on the Secure@Source team, whose product helps companies find and secure their sensitive data.

Patrick: Hi! My name is Patrick Le and I am an incoming senior majoring in Computer Science. My interest lies in full stack web development and product management. At Informatica, I am a Software Engineer for their Cloud Services division.

Interview Process

William: I applied for the position through LinkedIn at the end of November and received a HackerRank test. I then did a technical phone interview with a software engineer on the team followed by a behavioral interview with the team’s manager. I received the offer in February.

Patrick: I applied for the Software Engineer Intern position in early January. Here is the timeline…

Mid January

Received a Coding Test

Early February

  • Recruiter reached out to me for my availability. You interviewing per a team’s request. In my case, Cloud Services interviewed me.
  • 1st Interview - Technical
    • Interviewed by a Senior Dev from Cloud Services
    • CS14 questions in regards to data structures and algorithms
    • Questions about my front end experiences *2nd Interview - Behavioral
    • Interviewed by Senior Software Manager
    • What is your experiences in Full Stack Development?
    • Experiences in React.JS
    • Do you enjoy UI engineering?
    • What do you expect to gain from this internship?

Late February

  • Offer was extended.

Culture & Work Life William: I like the culture at Informatica—the people are very helpful and friendly. The atmosphere is also fairly relaxed and the hours are flexible, with many employees working from home on Fridays.

The company’s values are DATA, which stands for “Do Good, Act as One Team, Think Customer-First, and Aspire For The Future”. The values are repeated often and provides a good idea of what the company is about.

There are also several events for the interns, like going to a Giants game and volunteering at Habitat For Humanity. The company also has some cool events, like an annual trip to Lake Tahoe in early September.

Imgur Will's Desk at Informatica

Patrick: There is always something to do at Informatica. The company sponsors several outing events such as intercompany sporting competitions, volunteering events, and team-based socials. We have team meetings and one-on-ones with our manager once every week. Everyone is really smart and will provide you with a lot of feedback/advice.

The company as a whole cares deeply about their employees. Informatica is a privately traded company, but the leadership is very transparent about our quarterly earnings and product roadmap. There are two exits for Informatica. Either get acquired or go public.

In terms of amenities, all employees receives free gym passes at Pacific Shores and reimbursed work travel (limited to public transit). We also have free drinks (soda, sparkling water, etc) and snacks (beef jerky, chips, etc). Fun fact, I have drank 157 Diet Cokes, 26 Dr. Peppers and 13 Brisk since the start of my internship to this spotlight.

Overall, I am enjoying my time at Informatica and making the most out of it!

Btw, we all get an adjustable standing desk :)

Imgur Patrick's Desk at Informatica


William: During the first week, my team was busy with internal planning meetings so I was given a task to improve the performance of a specific feature.

Then, I was assigned my first project, which was creating a plan and proof-of-concept for a microservice deployment of part of my team’s product—first on AWS, and then on our internal platform, IICS (Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services). I learned a lot about the various offerings of AWS, as well as how to architect and deploy a microservice-based application.

After that, I was given a project to create an internal application for my team. I got to learn a lot about the field of NLP (Natural Language Processing) and apply many of the the techniques I learned from CS 235 (Data Mining) on a real project. I also got the chance to use my technologies of choice, like Node.js and Python.

I plan to finish that project soon and will be able to start a third project, which is still to be decided.

Patrick: Unfortunately, my project is confidential, but the project will soon be in production.


William: We are interning at Informatica’s Redwood City location, which is in the Pacific Shores Center. It has a great view of the bay, as well as a softball field, beach volleyball court, basketball court, and gym. The office itself is also very nice, with plenty of free drinks and snacks.

Informatica provided housing, so Patrick and I are staying near downtown Redwood city. The weather is awesome and there is plenty to do at night with a lot of restaurants and a movie theater within a ten minute walk. We are also staying within walking distance of a Caltrain station, which allows us to conveniently travel around the Bay Area

Patrick: I work at Informatica’s headquarters in Redwood City. Pacific Shores is a community of companies on the outskirts of Redwood City. We own two large buildings at Pacific Shores. The community is very picturesque and peaceful. I often walk around the campus during my free time.

The buildings are amazing. There are Game/Lounge rooms, cafes, and LOTS of meeting rooms (with whiteboards).

Imgur A view of the Pacific Shores campus from the 3rd floor of Informatica

Imgur A picture of the main Informatica building

Imgur Some Informatica meeting rooms

Imgur Our apartment in Redwood City

Imgur A picture of the shoreline from Pacific Shores

Summer Spotlight - Esri

This week we are talking with Patrick, Sid, and Elijah about their experiences so far at Esri.

Esri is the global market leader in GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Esri develops ArcGIS, the most popular mapping and spatial analytics software.

Cafeteria Stairs


Patrick Patrick - I’m Patrick Tumbucon, and I’m an incoming senior majoring in Computer Engineering. My technical passion is front end web development, but I also enjoy back end development and web design. At Esri, I’m interning with the Search Engine Optimization team.

Sid Sid - My name is Siddharth Menon. I am a Computer Science major, entering my senior year in the fall. My interests lie in machine learning, computer vision, and computer graphics. At ESRI, I am interning with the team at the Applications Prototype Lab (APL).

Elijah - My name is Elijah Cain, and I’m pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science. I’m a capable full stack developer with emphasis on backend development. I am on the ArcGIS Enterprise software development team.

Interview Process

Patrick - I was contacted by two teams: The SEO team and the JavaScript API team. I followed through both interview processes concurrently. Each one started with a behavioral/conversational phone call, then the SEO interviewer (who is now my awesome mentor) asked a few basic technical SEO questions. I received an offer from the SEO team about a week later. I was offered an onsite interview with the JavaScript API team, but I declined due to my heavy workload at the time, among other things.

Sid - I was interviewed twice. The first time was by an HR representative. A few weeks later, I got an official phone interview with the APL team. I was asked about the projects I had worked on, my technical interests, as well as my experience using different frameworks and languages.

Elijah - I had an initial HR screen where I talked about my development interests and skills. I then had a 1-hour technical interview with my current team mentor. We used a shared online coding editor and he asked me basic data structure and algorithms questions as well as some C++ specific questions.

Work Life

Work Station Hackathon Presentation Patrick - Search engine optimization falls within marketing, so my desk was placed along with the social media team (who are all very fun and animated people!). My mentor is fully aware of my developer background, so she encourages me to work on the more technical parts of search engine optimization. For example, I’m currently spearheading a project that implements JSON-LD structured data across our thousands of web pages. This will help boost our search rankings and populate the SERP with rich search snippets.

Working in the marketing department as a developer has been more fulfilling than I ever thought it would be. Not only can I create a product, but I can polish it in such a way that makes it attractive to use. This proved to be a very useful skill for the intern hackathon, where I led my team to earn 2nd place.

The intern coordinators take their job seriously, and they have made the intern experience very enjoyable. The highlight of the intern events was 100% the intern hackathon.

Esri is a unique company in many different ways:

  • There is a very flat hierarchy in the context of leadership, and I haven’t met anyone with a sliver of an ego. I would schedule meetings with people like the head of branding, the VP of marketing, and the front end development team lead just to have casual conversations about our passions and experiences. Heck, even the CEO eats in the same cafe as every other employee.
  • Every employee gets paid hourly. This can be a good or bad thing.
  • Esri is privately owned, so the company can freely develop their products without having to listen to shareholders.

2018 Interns Sid - While I can’t speak about the details surrounding the project I’m working on, I can say that many of the skills that I have developed through hackathons and my previous courses (like CS 171/170/130/etc.) have come in handy to get things done. I have been working with machine learning/deep learning frameworks (such as Tensorflow and MxNet) and the team has been actively working with me to get the project done.

Additionally, the internship coordinators always have some fun activities planned for the interns throughout the summer. The biggest highlight so far has definitely been the intern hackathon.

Elijah - I’m doing server-side development for the ArcGIS Enterprise software platform. More specifically, I’m working on export tools that allow users to export different types of services that are supported by ArcGIS. I’m also using JUnit to write regression tests in Java to make sure my code does not disturb any of the surrounding functionality.

I participated in the Esri hackathon and was on one of the finalist teams. There are a lot of intern activities and career workshops. The work environment is very laid back and collaborative.


Laptop Outside Patrick - It’s hot. It’s pretty much Riverside weather, to be honest. But there are some awesome food places in the surrounding area, such as Eureka Burger and the Gourmet Pizza Shoppe. I commute from Riverside with other interns, so it’s a bit harder to hang out with the interns who live in Redlands, but we make it work.

Sid - Downtown Redlands, a 20-minute walk from the ESRI campus, is definitely a cool place to go to with some really good food to look forward to.

Elijah - The Esri campus is very unique and Redlands has some cool spots too.

Final Remarks

Plants Patrick - Esri is the unsung hero of tech. I can’t immediately name a tech company that has such a positive, global impact on the world like Esri does. Esri powers the real-time maps of 911 first responders and continually makes breakthroughs in education, conservation, and sustainability of the environment. If you want to make a difference in the world, Esri is the place to be.

Esri looks for excited and passionate candidates who are eternal students (figuratively, not literally). If you’re interested in working here, please don’t hesitate to contact me at and I can help you out.

Sid - Being a part of the Applications Prototype Lab has allowed me to be able to play around with some cool new technologies and the overall experience so far has been great!

Elijah - Esri is a fantastic company to work for. Leadership has a great vision for the company and it trickles down to all of the employees. The developers are high caliber, but very down to earth and collaborative.

Summer Spotlight - AT&T & GitHub

This week we are talking with John about his experiences so far at AT&T & GitHub.

For this weeks summer spotlight, we will be focusing on John Pham who is working at AT&T and GitHub.

Imgur Imgur


My name is John Pham. I’m a 4th year computer science major. My background is in UI/UX design, web development, and data science. During this summer, I am is working with AT&T on the Advanced Analytics Team and with GitHub on the Education Team.

Interview Process


I applied for the position in early November online. Below is a timeline:

  • Early-January: A recruiter reached out and conducted a behavioral interview over the phone
    • Talk about your previous experiences
    • Why did you pick your major?
  • Late-January: Another recruiter reached out for another behavioral interview over the phone
    • What’s your experience with big data technologies?
    • Design a data system that can handle streaming data from multiple clients
  • Early-February: An engineer and a data scientist (my manager) reached out for a technical interview
    • What’s your technical background?
    • Tell us about your experience with streaming data
    • Paired programming
    • Brainstorming for solutions to determine user experience on the platform
  • Late-February: An offer was extended


I applied for the position in mid-August online. Below is a timeline:

  • Mid-August - Late-September: Did training:
    • Community management
    • Public speaking
    • Workshop development
    • Fundraising Running an organization
  • October: Had a video interview with the manager, shortly after got extended the position

Memorable Experience


AT&T had a day call “Intern Day of Impact” for interns across the world. For the El Segundo interns, we volunteered at the Los Angeles Food Shelter for a day. By the end of the day, we helped prepare 8,645 lbs of food for people with food insecurities.




GitHub supports events all across the world. One event I got to help out was Battle Snake 2018 which is an AI competition for over 450 people to build AIs for the game snake. This year’s competition was hosted in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Sponsors of the events create Challenge Snakes which then the participant’s snakes have to challenge. For GitHub, I built a snake using Python and a full-time engineer built one using Ruby. Our challenge for participants was a 2 vs 2 but it would be our 2 different snakes with different heuristics vs 2 copies of the participant’s snake.



Imgur I can’t say much about my project without revealing the secret sauce. I can say however that taking CS171 (Data Mining & Machine Learning) before my internship helped out a ton. I am working with big data systems (Apache Kafka, Apache Hive, Hadoop) and using machine learning (XGBoost, Tensorflow). This isn’t the typical “give an intern something to do” project as the direct report for it is the CTO with over 40 full time staff working on it.



Imgur AT&T is located in El Segundo, CA with housing provided in Playa Del Rey. It’s an amazing location by being a part of Los Angeles and being right at the beach. There’s tons of things to do from beach-going, hikes, and eating amazing food. Imgur The work environment is one of my favorite parts. It’s an open space layout so inter and intra-team interactions is always happening. We also have the occasional ping pong tournament happening.

Summer Spotlight - Amazon

This week we are talking with Kennen and Jerry about their experiences so far at Amazon.

Amazon Summer Spotlight


For the Amazon summer spotlight, we will be focusing on two Amazon interns: Jerry Jiang and Kennen DeRenard.

Jerry is interning at Amazon Japan on the Amazon Points team and Kennen is interning at Amazon in Santa Monica, on the Amazon Studios / Prime Video Mixed Reality (VR) team.

The Interview Process

Jerry: I interviewed 3 times on Amazon Chime, which is a different process from the U.S. Amazon interview process.

Kennen: “The interview process was really quick compared to some other companies. There were 3 parts. The first part was an online assessment that tested code debugging skills, as well as logical reasoning (similar to an IQ test). The second part was another online assessment that focused on interview-style coding questions, with automated testing. The last part of my process was a phone interview with an SDE (software development engineer). It was 45 minutes, with 1 coding question and a few conceptual questions. My decision came back fairly quick as well, within a couple business days.”

Memorable Experiences

Jerry: “I walked outside and the sky was leaking. My mentor explained that this was ‘rain’.”

Kennen: “Definitely hard to have memorable experiences in a couple weeks, but the overall experience has been amazing. I already know that the time I’ve spent designing my project, playing VR games, and having interactions with my team members will be memories for years to come.”

Amazon’s Culture

Jerry: “The Amazon principles are actually real. They define the culture here and the mindsets of Amazonians very well.

Customer obsession, ownership, frugality, fun problems of massive scale, high standards, …[and] lots of cake”

Also the work-life balance is actually pretty alright, times are very flexible and you can work from home on a regular basis if you really wanted to do that.

Kennen: “The culture at Amazon, especially my team, seems really unique. The environment is really relaxed, yet everyone is always doing their best work. My team focuses a lot on independence, and we have a lot of freedom with when and how we work. But still, everyone trusts each other to get the work assigned to them done. The leadership principles are definitely also important, especially being customer oriented. Every design decision we make is focused on making things the best it can be for our customers.”


Jerry: “On top secret points team project, maybe two. Definitely not given useless throwaway projects here.”

Kennen: “Unfortunately my project is confidential outside of Amazon (at the moment), but I’m definitely using skills I’ve learned from many classes I’ve taken.”


Jerry: “The Japan branch is an extremely culturally diverse office - nobody on my team is from the same country, and we have a very sizable team. Almost all developers are foreigners here, so it’s interesting to talk about our home countries and backgrounds all the time.

We own most of two massive towers (less than Seattle), lots of whiteboards, not open floor, free employee vending machine with sparkling grape juice, coffee, tea, soup, soda, etc. Elevators are Amazon boxes, amazing view from office, and employee cafeteria with nice cheap Japanese food. There is also a rock climbing wall, a massage room, and a ton of great cheap lunch places (1250 yen lunch galbi + brisket yakiniku with salad, rice and soup buffet!) near the office.

Japan is great, get to work hard on weekdays and play hard on weekends. I am studying so I hopefully can speak Japanese by the end of this internship.”

Rock Climbing Wall

Kennen: “Santa Monica is a unique Amazon location. My team is located in the Water Garden (with a beautiful view of LA), which is a group of buildings with a few other companies (Hulu, Oracle, etc). There’s definitely many interactions between companies as we go to lunch and do other activities. Also, my team is located in Amazon Studios, so there’s always a few celebrities each week.”

Downtown Tokoyo