Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Internship at MS...

While the memories are still fresh in mind, I wanted to share my summer internship experiences at Microsoft. I worked with MSN Search group, which is actually the hottest group in Microsoft at this time :) Well, I was kind of lucky to get into this group, but I'll save those stories for some other time.

I felt that the internship was very well organized, structured and well-paced. I did another internship the previous summer in a research group at Humana Inc., but that was totally different experience. It felt like an academic environment with the kind of work I did, even though I had to wear neck tie everyday (yeah, I know...). It was a very cheerful environment to work with though. But the experience at MS was completely different.

From the day I came, I was on my toes to keep up with the pace. Within the first week, I had to submit a goals and objectives statement outlining what I plan to do in the internship. There was a mid-point review to go over the progress of my work and there was a final review at the end of internship to see if I actually did any useful work to the company. In the interim, there were weekly status reports and weekly 1:1 meetings with my mentor, weekly team meetings and occasional meetings with my manager to get feedback about my work. Well, the MSN Search team itself is a fast-paced team with monthly releases keeping everybody in the team on their toes all the time.

Even though I was not working in the research group, they tried to give me stand-alone projects that match my interests. I worked on a performance related project in the first half of my internship and the most interesting work I did in the internship was in my second half of my internship. This was kind of a research project where I worked on a query rewriting tool that analyzes the affect of various rewriting methods on the relevance of search results. I was given complete freedom about the project and the whole team was very helpful and resourceful in making the tool useful to the rest of the team. The project was looking very good in the end and we got very interesting results. But we did not have enough time to complete additional experiments, but I hope the tool was useful the team and gave insights for further experimentation in this area. I was amazed by the sheer amount of data that was handled and by the number of machines to handle the processing of the data. It helped me to gain a practical perspective to the research problems that I am working towards my dissertation.

There were a lot of events to keep the interns busy during the summer. There were tech talks to keep us informed of the latest developments within several organizations within Microsoft. There were numerous fun events like puzzle hunt (where we tried to solve lot of puzzles, ran around MS campus for treasures..), company picnic, casino events, mount rainier trip, tech fest etc.. Although I couldn't everything, I still enjoyed it. Overall, I had lot of fun and it was a good learning experience.

No comments: