What I Did Last Summer

Jon Ford Customer Care, Developer, Healthcare Leave a Comment

(Or, Why You Should Hire Interns and Give Them Hard Work!)

It was a busy summer at nVoq. The last four months have been a blur – in a good way. The continued push for higher speed, greater accuracy, fantastic user experience, integration with our awesome ISV’s, and the addition of four interns kept us busy in engineering. While the direct product improvement was exciting, even more so were the fresh ideas, cool research projects, and product prototypes created by our interns.

Summers past have brought interns from Georgia Tech, The University of Minnesota, and other great schools around the country.

About the Author
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Jon Ford

VP Engineering

We are fortunate here in Boulder to have some great schools nearby. The graduate programs in engineering, computer science, and linguistics are some of the best in the world. This year, two interns joined us from The Colorado School of Mines in Golden and two from The University of Colorado here in Boulder. All graduate students in computer science or computational linguistics, they brought with them a drive to test new ideas, learn new technologies, and solve hard problems.

The summer was split roughly in half. The first half was dedicated to problem definition and potential solution research. During this time, we explored areas of opportunity for improvement in our products and services. Our interns read research papers and evaluated existing tools and the potential to construct new ones. Experiments were conducted and the results documented to create a framework for the realization of their ideas.

From mid-summer on, work turned to creating tangible implementations of these research ideas developed over the previous weeks. Prototypes were built, thrown away, rebuilt, refactored and refined. Some worked and some didn’t. But, the team persisted. Months of reading the latest research, fighting with the tools, fighting over GPU’s, and trying to distill it all down to a few working prototypes finally produced results. And, they were outstanding. Each of the interns finished the summer with a prototype that showed concrete results on real data. These prototypes provide a solid starting point for our engineering team as we move to quickly productize the implementations that were only ideas in May.

For those of you still concerned about the Millennial generation, don’t be. I can assure you there are smart, hardworking young people moving through our great colleges and universities. Four of them spent their summer with us at nVoq. It was more than learning agile software processes, how to work on a team, or how to use the latest machine learning libraries. We worked hard and we had fun. We all learned about facing failure, pushing through, and succeeding on the other side. nVoq received a head start on some cool new features and our interns head back to school with the experience of turning the latest research into real product improvements.

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