Danfei Xu ’14
Major(s): Computer Science, Physics
Internship Site: Syn Touch, LLC - Los Angeles, CA
I found this opportunity by searching internships related to robotics online. I emailed Syn Touch a cover letter and my resume. My enthusiasm in robotics in addition to my research and internship experiences convinced them that I was a good candidate for this position.
I worked on a scientific research project funded by DARPA. It was my favorite project since I started studying computer science. This project is closely related to robotics/programming, and gave me a huge sense of achievement when I finished it.
This project was the first real scientific project I worked on. The challenges came from independent learning: learning professional research methodology, tons of statistics equations, and new robot operating system and programming languages. I learned that the capability of fast independent learning and problem solving is the key to adapting to a new project and to a new team.
My career goal is to work on research and development projects related to robotics in a company or a laboratory. Independently finishing a DARPA-funded project as an undergraduate student was a great accomplishment, so it will be a huge aid to finding a job in this field or applying to graduate school. In addition, Syn Touch is a small company but has very broad networks in robotics industry, so I can easily get personalized recommendations/references to other robotics company.
Tips from Danfei:
1. Before you start looking for internships, narrow down the type of jobs you want. Instead of thinking “I want an internship related to computer science,” have a more specific target such as “an internship related to a database project,” or “mobile application development.” This would not only increase your efficiency in searching for internships, but also make you look more professional in interviews and when talking with real professionals in this field.
2. An email saying, “we have enough interns for this summer, please contact us earlier next year” is not the end of the story. A polite and moderate, but enthusiastic, response showing your interest in this position may give you another chance to compete for this position. Definitely try this when you are applying for an internship position in a small company. Small companies tend to be very flexible in hiring interns and pay more attention to candidates’ personalities. That’s exactly how I got my internship.
*To find out more about how to get an internship, make an appointment with a career counselor. Just call the Career Center at 717-245-1740 or stop by Biddle House.