Picture: May 2013. Fog ever-present on the San Francisco skyline. College students sweating through their finals.
And then, a light in the distance. Green, like the light hovering out past Gatsby’s dock. But this green is actually the Ancestry.com leaf, representing the new family that awaits four eager UC Berkeley students once they embark on their technical summer internships at the San Francisco office of Ancestry.com.
Throughout their summer, many trials and tribulations met them along their journey to Agile enlightenment (aka, figuring out how to get to all the conference rooms in the office). Here are a few highlights from their experience:
For FedEx Day, the SF interns joined to form a team and develop an application named “AnTESTry” in which Ancestry users’ knowledge could be tested about their own family trees. They were able to stay up collectively for over 24 hours in order to make the deadline and showcase their project in front of both the San Francisco and Provo offices. Though they did not win, they learned a lot, including MySQL, JSP, and CSS3 transitions.
One exciting event that took place outside of the office included a visit to Google for the monthly AngularJS Meetup. Two of the interns accompanied some full-time employees and had a blast eating free food, learning about AngularFire, and asking questions to get t-shirts.
Towards the end of the summer, the SF interns organized a back-to-school charity event and ordered school supplies for 160 sixth grade students at Visitacion Valley Middle School. They also invited the office to join in a packaging party to write personalized notes to the students and assemble the packages. Over 30 employees attended and a great time was had by all.
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…introducing THE WINTERNS:
Tiffany Hwu was a part of the Data Services team. Over the summer, she worked on use cases for different sources of data, and investigated RHadoop. She is currently entering her senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, double majoring in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. In her spare time, she plays piano and folds origami.
Tiffany! (THE OTHER TIFFANY)
Tiffany Ng was an intern for the Dispatch team. After learning a ton of new frameworks and languages such as C#, ASP.NET, AngularJS, and many others, she was able to help the team build an Admin User Interface for the new internal targeting service that Dispatch was in the midst of creating. In addition to helping with the UI, she wrote unit tests for the C# code and researched the Jasmine testing framework. Tiffany will be going into her fourth year at UC Berkeley, majoring in Computer Science. When she’s not coding, she likes to have fun food adventures and discover new music.
Alex Greenspan was an intern for the Guidance team. She created a prototype for an easier way to explore record hints on the All Hints page, which will be implemented on the live Ancestry.com site. Among her other roles, she worked on unit tests and automation tests, as well as conducted research into the algorithm of the relationship calculator that can be seen on the upcoming side panel feature for Trees. Alex is going to be a third-year Computer Science and Cognitive Science double major at UC Berkeley in the fall. She’s taking baby steps toward saving the world. This involves a lot of photography and “creative brainstorming,” aka, post-it notes.
Jake Lerner was an intern for the DNA-Backend team. Rather than working on a specific “intern project,” Jake worked as a normal member of the team, improving the efficiency and logging capabilities of Ancestry’s DNA-processing pipeline. He’s going into his third year at the University of California, Berkeley where he is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Political Science. When he’s not having a great time at Ancestry, he does research on the Political Economy of the Asia Pacific, cooks, reads science fiction, and climbs the occasional tree.
Overall, these four interns would unanimously agree that Ancestry.com is a great place for an internship. The atmosphere is friendly, the projects are interesting and challenging, the catered lunches on Mondays are delicious, and the surprises (such as ice cream trucks and bingo night) never cease to feel rewarding after a long week of work. If you know of anyone looking for an internship, point them to Ancestry.com…and not just to the website in their browser. But that too, because we’re sure their family history is worth discovering.