Twelve weeks. California weather. Uber credits for rides. Welcome to interning at the technology company that’s disrupted the transportation industry. What’s it like to intern at Uber? Uber intern Kate Park spoke with other interns about where they’re from, the projects they worked on, and their most memorable moments of last summer.

 

Nevil George, Driver Team

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in India and moved to Mozambique when I was two. I grew up in South Africa and went to boarding school in Swaziland. I came to the US for college. My parents are still in Mozambique. I speak four languages.

How did you get into computer science?

My high school didn’t offer computer science as a course. My mom is a math teacher and I knew I liked the sciences. My freshman year I took a mandatory programming class in MATLAB; I thought I might study computer engineering. After my freshman year I went back to Mozambique and thought I would learn how to code. I really enjoyed it. I went back, switched to a CS major, and love it.

How did you end up at Uber?

I worked at a small startup in Mountain View and met with the CEO. He said before you join a company, you should think really hard about where you want to be. At that time, I wanted to experience a big company because I had only seen a startup. He said that joining a big company is fun, but there’s no risk; the best is to join a high-growth company, and the first company he mentioned was Uber. I had used the app once, so I watched a lot of videos on Uber Engineering and presentations Uber engineers had given. I found the technical problems super interesting. When I got the offer, I knew I wanted to be at Uber.

What drives you?

I like solving a big problem that impacts a lot of people. I like the idea of helping other people. I love how Uber is solving a huge problem. The problem I’m solving and the people I’m solving it for are super important to me.

 

Emilee Urbanek, Uber for Business Team

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How did you end up at Uber?

Two alums from the University of Chicago who work at Uber came to recruit. Tech companies don’t usually come to the U of C, since we’re a liberal arts school. I started coding in high school with AP. I thought it was easy, and then I got to college and found out it was a lot more interesting. I went backwards: knowing only Java, I started with intro to operating systems. Turned out I needed C, so I learned that too.

What’s the biggest difference between school and work?

At school, it’s more about learning how to learn, like implementing a natural join. It’s been fun to apply problem-solving skills to concrete problems.

What do you remember most about your work at Uber?

There’s a post-it note I wrote to myself that says, “don’t be afraid to break things,” to discourage me from second-guessing myself, to help me learn from my code reviewers while I develop an intuition.

What drives you?

Pure stubbornness to not give up. I love being at the face of a challenge. In tech, something that is challenging can make a huge impact on the way the world works. I like to create things you could have only dreamed of. That’s what drives me.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

One day, I’d like to get into computer-human interfacing. I’m passionate about the brain and synaptic transmission.

 

Michael Shum, Data Science Team

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How did you get into computer science?

I took a CS class in high school and got hooked. I had a really good teacher who inspired me to do CS and showed me how awesome it was. I did a high school intern program at Microsoft and had a great mentor who let me work on interesting things with Microsoft Research and Bing. It was cool because I got to show people what I did, and I liked the idea that lots of people could see stuff I was working on. That still sticks with me. I want to make things a lot of people use.

What makes Uber stand out in your mind?

The fast pace. Everyone’s looking to get as much as they can done. I enjoy seeing everyone working super hard together. It’s a different kind of pressure to hit a deadline and then continue ownership and make sure your contributions scale super well.

What was your favorite moment?

When I pushed my first serious commit—those go out to so many people.

How did you feel?

Proud, excited, nervous—what if it doesn’t work?—but mostly excited. I’m sure something will go wrong, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we deal with it.

 

James Mishra, Developer Platform Team

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How did you get into CS?

My dad was a software engineer, and I always wanted to know what he did for work. I wanted to make things and see how stuff in my computer happened. I started with HTML, building cute little web pages on GeoCities. I was nine. My brother started when he was six.

You said you were building websites. Then what?

I wanted to make websites cooler and cooler and got into PHP, then Python, then Java, and spreading into concepts like algorithms and data structures.

Did you have any internships before Uber?

I worked at labs in my university before Uber: three government research labs almost back to back. They were technical, in machine learning and systems engineering. The experience was amazing. I think everyone should do at least one internship in government to see the challenges that people face when the scale is the whole planet, to serve your country, and give back to the community.

Any tips on networking as an intern?

It matters a whole lot to network horizontally. I think interns are always concerned about impressing their manager and meeting other interns, but it’s really important to communicate with engineers on other teams. Any big feature is going to need the coordination of many teams.

What makes Uber stand out from other places you’ve worked?

People own what they do. No one does a feature or a project because their manager asks them. Everyone’s project is their passion project; it’s something they want to see changed in the world. Everyone on external API wants to give a powerful new tool to the developers in the world; people on the growth team want to create thousands of earning opportunities every day.

James Mishra is now a software engineer on the Developer Platform team for Uber’s external API.

 

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Check out our prior intern articles:

Making an Impact for Drivers as an Uber Engineering Intern

My Uber Engineering Intern Experience on the Supply Engineering Team

Kate Park is a former Uber intern and an undergraduate studying computer science at Stanford University.

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