150 Hour Experience: Internship at Amazon

My experience was a summer internship at Amazon. I’m not sure how to describe what the company does at this point, because well, it does anything and everything. I was on the consumer side of things (generally the company is split between AWS and CDO, CDO standing for consumer, devices, and other). My team oversaw Seller Central, the website sellers go to post and manage the items they are selling on Amazon.com.

My role was a software development engineer internship, and I was responsible for executing a software project that catered towards the user’s use-cases and considered the broader team’s context. I was responsible for participating in team meetings such as standup, sprint planning, and also went to weekly meetings about operational excellence.

At Amazon, I was given a broad problem statement, but was given a lot of autonomy to innovate and find the best solution. My project was to lessen the burden of our team by enabling other teams to easily mock up and visualize how their information would look displayed on Seller Central. I was the owner of my project, which meant that I was fully in charge of the design, implementation, documentation, and overall execution of my project (with oversight). This gave me a lot of room to innovate, and I took advantage of the self service culture within the company by exploring various technologies, and ideas. I chose to use some of the cutting edge technologies within the company that were brand new, and not particularly well documented because I loved to see what boundaries these tools could push and how they could benefit my project in practice.

I chose this experience because previously I had interned at a tiny startup, and I wanted to see how innovation could still be possible in a giant company. I expected to encounter bureaucracy everywhere hindering innovation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that was rarely the case. Change is embraced at Amazon, unlike my friends who work at some other big companies where I hear “that’s how it’s always been done” is used as a regular excuse to not try new things. While I did find it a bit cult-like how into the leadership principles a few people were, they have 16 principles governing their work, and they are readily prevalent in the culture at the company. As it relates to I&E, I think having a bias for action was absolutely the most important leadership principle. During my internship, I found that waiting around for others to get back to me about how to do things was not usually effective. It took a while because their work life didn’t revolve around me, and sometimes in the meantime I found a better solution than what my team was used to doing and I could bring that back to them.

I also had to cater my design towards the customers of my project (in this case internal teams) and was encouraged every step of the way to think about the business side of my project as well as the technical side, considering use cases and implementation cost. I discussed with program managers as well as software experts about the user’s wants and needs and the pros/cons of various implementation strategies.

Overall, I was very glad I could experience the innovative culture at Amazon. It was far from the bureaucratic nightmare I thought working at a big company would be, and for better or for worse, their growth is absolutely staggering, probably due to the entrepreneurial and scrappy culture.

My learning objectives for this experience as it relates to I&E was to discover how innovation can exist at a big company compared to the tiny startup I had interned at for my 300 hour experience. I can safely say I achieved that by witnessing the vast amount of cutting edge projects, ventures, and more than Amazon is launching. For this company, it isn’t enough to just be at the top, it’s critically important to continue to expand and introduce new ideas to the market, and it shows in the company culture (on the corporate side, at least).

This experience relates to my pathway, technology and design, in that the role itself was completely centered on software. I saw first hand how the business side of software projects influenced decisions and market forces drove innovation within software. I had many insightful discussions with my manager about the business side of the role as well as discussions with some PMs. Through my coursework in I&E 352, we discussed a case study of Dropbox, which I thought this experience was really nice to have as a context of innovation in the tech sphere while learning and discussing the case.


150 hour experience

300 Hour experience: Internship at ANB Systems


This past summer, I interned at ANB systems, a startup that develops innovative workflow management solutions for the energy industry. This was an amazing opportunity to work in a startup environment, as the office was located in a WeWork, where I got to interact with employees and entrepreneurs from various startups in many different industries. Although I had a few smaller projects, I spent the majority of my time designing and implementing an indexing and search service to provide intelligent responses to customer queries and allow new, efficient ways to retrieve and gain insights on workflow data for clients. I was in charge of this from the initial brainstorming, to specifications, implementation, deployment, and testing. I chose this experience to fulfill my 300 hour requirement because I wanted to have the opportunity to experience the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation, and engineering.


For my project, I was faced with several problems that affected the design and constrained and eliminated some of the traditional solutions involving implementing search. One of the biggest considerations was the nature of the company’s platform was modular and based around configurability and as such, the data was asymmetrical. There was no pre-defined schema that the data could be indexed against, as the data formats were customer defined and dynamic. I worked around this by creating and deploying a service that intelligently creates models of information that work with ElasticSearch, the engine we chose.

Another innovative concept was creating an intelligent search experience that catered to various query forms from clients and worked with context to create the most relevant results possible. In the age of search engines such as Google being so ubiquitous, it was important to us that the search engine be able to match misspelled words, utilize synonyms, and search through various data types such as dates, and numbers from input strings. I worked towards these goals by carefully managing how the service generated the models and indexed data into the backend search service to enable such functionality, while being cognizant of resources and cost.

One specific failure I remember was getting the service I deployed to communicate with another service on our cloud platform. With the help of at least 3 other coworkers, we periodically worked on debugging this issue for almost a week, with no success. I was finally able to track down an obscure security setting that was preventing the network requests from going through. Through this, I learned and solidified my strategy for finding solutions to problems by learning to research tangentially relating topics and following up on clues that sounded similar to the main problem.

With regards to I&E, I think the most important things I learned through this experience was the considerations that are made when making decisions, whether it’s a business or product decision, or implementation detail in engineering. Keeping the client’s perspective in mind, and always being aware of the costs of resources and manpower were some of the things I learned through the various meetings, both formal and informal with both company members and other entrepreneurs at the WeWork we were located at.


Whitepaper about the service I worked on