Summer internships: meet the class of 2019

7th October, 2019

Every summer for the last 6 years, we’ve welcomed interns to our team. And without fail, we’re blown away by how smart and enthusiastic they are. The class of 2019 was no exception.

We sat down with three* of them for some reassuringly unhealthy pastries and Mario Kart, to find out what they’ve been up to and whether they’ve enjoyed their summer with us.

Simon, Michael and Peter

* A familiar face joined us again this year. Toby had such a great time last summer that he came back. We’ll share a 2019 update from him in a later post.

Simon Beal - coder extraordinaire

Simon Beal – coder extraordinaire

“I’ve found myself at my desk saying ‘I’m getting paid for this, and I’m enjoying myself’ – that must be a good sign.”

I’ve just finished the second year of my Computer Science degree at the University of Warwick. I’ve been writing code ever since I can remember, and it’s something I like to do in my spare time, so it made sense to take an internship in a development team.

Last summer I worked at a non-profit, but this time I wanted to see the inside of a commercial company. It’s been a very different experience, but a really enjoyable one.

My main project has been working with the customer demos on the KeyLines SDK site. Taking some of our older demos and updating them to use the modern JavaScript standards our customers would expect. It was quite a journey to see how the language has changed, and how quickly.

I didn’t really like JavaScript when I used it at home, years ago, but now I’ve had the chance to use the latest web standards, I’ve discovered how much I enjoy using the language. It’s opened my eyes to how much you can do with it.

One of the best things about my time here (apart from our never-ending Chess contest) has been our Friday projects. I’ve loved the freedom to try new things. For the first few weeks, I threw interesting datasets into KeyLines charts to see what I could find. I also tried some experiments with the time bar – some of which might make it into the product later in the year.

I also spent some time profiling Python scripts, finally resolving a problem that had blocked me for several weeks in a personal coding project. It’s just one of the many uses of graph visualization I’ve discovered during my time here.

Simon's Friday Project
One of my Friday projects – I’ve been able to use KeyLines to visualize data from my own projects

As the summer comes to an end, I’m happy that I chose to spend it at Cambridge Intelligence. It was my first role in a commercial environment, and I didn’t know what to expect. But there were points during my time here where I’ve found myself at my desk saying ‘I’m getting paid for this, and I’m enjoying myself’ – that must be a good sign.

Peter Semrau-Boughton: a crash course in JavaScript

Peter Semrau-Boughton: a crash course in JavaScript

“The standards here are high, which means I’ve been learning from the highest-quality code. I have a solid grounding in the whole web development environment now. My time here has really widened my career options.”

As a mathematician, I enjoy finding new and unexpected real-world applications for maths, especially in art and engineering. Cambridge Intelligence’s work sits at the intersection of those two – building tools to make data insightful and beautiful, so it seemed like an interesting way to spend a summer.

The challenge for me was that I had relatively little JavaScript experience. I’d programmed lots in other languages, and covered the basics of Web Development at GCSE and A level, then at a test engineering internship last summer, but the rest I’ve been learning on the job here.

The team has been really supportive. At the start of the summer, we had a series of tutorials led by other JavaScript developers, and they were invaluable. Along with the support of my ‘buddy’ I’ve learned a lot, very quickly. If I ever have a problem, there’s always someone to ask.

The standards here are high, which means I’ve been learning from the highest-quality code. I have a solid grounding in the whole web development environment now. My time here has really widened my career options.

One unexpected challenge was joining the support rota. Our customers’ support queries get sent directly to the core development team, which means they get fast and authoritative answers, but also means they have very high expectations! It’s not easy, picking apart other people’s code to understand what’s gone wrong, and how they expect our code to behave. But I enjoyed it.

playing mariokart
There’s always time for a game of Mario Kart…

A particular highlight has been the social events. Whether it’s team outings for lunch, punting trips, visits to the Shakespeare festival, or games of Mario Kart at lunch, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my colleagues.

Peter shares the highlights of his summer with us

Michael Barlow: exposure to the commercial world

Michael Barlow: exposure to the commercial world

“Everybody here is so involved in the trajectory of the business. From the CEO down, everyone’s completely open about the company’s future plans and understands the role they play. That isn’t something you can get from most other internships.”

I’m about to start my final year at university, so this summer I wanted to get as much experience of work as I could.

Last year I was an intern at ARM, the microchip design giant based in Cambridge. It was a great experience, but you can only expect to see a tiny part of a 6000-person company as a summer intern. You’re unlikely to get a beer with the CEO there!

For me, that has been the best thing about my time here: I’ve been able to see the workings of the whole company, from the inside. Everybody here is so involved in the trajectory of the business. From the CEO down, everyone’s completely open about the company’s future plans and understands the role they play. That isn’t something you can get from most other internships.

As a pre-sales engineering intern, I’m a software developer embedded in the sales team. I attend their stand-ups and sprint planning sessions and have joined my sales colleagues on calls with customers and prospects. My main role is to create proof of concept visualizations with potential customers’ datasets, to help them see the power of our toolkits, prior to purchasing a full license. In between, I take on technical projects and work alongside colleagues in the development team. It’s been a completely new experience.

One of the projects I worked on was designing a proof of concept Customer 360 application for a prospect in the banking sector. They gave us the challenge of designing a way to visualize connections between customers based on the products they’ve bought. It was fascinating to see the whole pre-sales process – from the first engagement with a customer, through to the presentation of an application.

Michael's Friday Project
A simple game I made with the KeyLines SDK, as a Friday project

The work I’m most proud of, though, has to be my Bitcoin investigations. Before this summer, I didn’t know anything about Bitcoin or blockchain, but now I have a deep understanding and appreciation of how they work and the maths behind it all. I’ve summarized some of the new things I’ve learned in some blog posts and a presentation to the rest of the team. I’m even thinking of writing my thesis on the topic when I get back to Bristol.

Bitcoin visualization
A screenshot of a Bitcoin exploration tool I built with KeyLines

My summer at Cambridge Intelligence has been great, and I’ve been able to learn a lot.

Michael’s summer at Cambridge Intelligence

Want to join us in 2020?

Applications are now open for our 2020 summer internship program. It’s a great opportunity to work with an awesome team, learn real-world coding and business skills and get some excellent experience. What are you waiting for?

Apply now

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