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Welcome to the second in a series of blogs about intern opportunities with LexisNexis. This blog focusses on the HPCC Systems intern program. 

Every year, HPCC Systems publishes a list of projects which are designed to be completed by students during our summer intern program. These projects cover a wide range of areas from Web Interfaces, Machine Learning, JAVA programming, Internet of Things, Compiler related projects and more. So any would be software developers or data scientists should go and take a look at the list and the details of previously completed projects to see what being an HPCC Systems Intern involves.

We supply enough information for students to be able to make a judgement about whether the project is in an area of interest and evaluate any prerequisite skills required. Students then submit a proposal which scopes out the tasks required to complete the project including a timeline showing what will be completed when. Our developers assess each proposal, awarding an internship to students who submit the best proposals according to the number of places we have available. We generally award around 4-6 internships every year to a mixture of undergraduates, masters and PhD students. Although in 2018, we awarded a record 10 internships.

Successful students are generally high achievers. They have a high grade point average and their proposals usually show that they are interested and motivated beyond their studies. Typically, students who apply for an HPCC Systems Internship are studying computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics, information technology, engineering etc. All these subjects generally involve studying software development including programming skills, which are necessary for students to be able to successfully complete one of our projects.

Students can also suggest their own project but it must be something that is relevant to and provides obvious benefits to the HPCC Systems open source project and community. For example, previously, one of our returning students implemented machine learning algorithms which he suggested in our Machine Learning Library as part of his PhD.

During the internship, students work alongside a mentor who is an experienced developer on the HPCC Systems platform team. Some students are also co-mentored by their university professor. All interns work in the same way as our developers, using the same tools, checking in code and going through the same code review process.

It’s a really great opportunity to work directly with knowledgeable and experienced software developers and architects while being exposed to what it’s like to work in a real world development environment. In fact, what actually happens is that you basically join the HPCC Systems platform development team as a developer for 12 weeks.

The requirement to submit a proposal makes certain that both student and mentor have a good idea of what needs to be achieved during the internship. Supplying a timeline means that when the internship starts, students already know what the first tasks should be. So their finger is right on the pulse from the very beginning.

Now we’re talking research and development here, so sometimes the nature of a project can change based on what is discovered along the way. But this isn’t a problem. Mentors work closely with students and can spot this happening, working with interns to revise the plan and helping to keep the project moving forward. Obviously, communication is key, so regular contact between students and mentors is crucial and weekly status reports help everyone to stay in the loop.

In 2017, we had two students working in the office alongside their mentors, but it's not necessary to physically be in an office. In 2018, 5 students were office based and 5 worked remotely from their home or university office. We are used to remote working because our own development team is dispersed across the USA, UK and Ireland with people working together across a number of different time zones. The wonderful thing about supporting remote working is that we can cast the net wide when it comes to taking on interns. We can just as easily accept an intern from Europe or Asia as we can from the USA. We can also be flexible to accommodate the differences in semester duration which vary around the world.

I’ve been asked in the past whether allowing students to work remotely is potentially concerning in terms of getting projects successfully completed. All I can say, is that it hasn’t been an issue so far and it’s something that I don’t worry too much about. Why?

Well, if you are applying for the HPCC Systems intern program you have to be extremely able and dedicated. Students have to jump through a fairly big hoop to get accepted. The projects are challenging and it’s no mean feat to prepare a well thought out and detailed proposal. We don’t necessarily expect students to have all the answers in their proposal, but we do need to see evidence of ability, genuine interest and understanding of the project and its potential challenges. While working on their proposal, students are advised to strike up a conversation with the project mentor who can answer questions and offer guidance to help students improve their proposal and make sure they have thought about potential compatibility or connectivity considerations where relevant. A good quality proposal gives us clues about a student's suitability for what is really a masterclass intern program and any student who successfully navigates this process is obviously commited to working hard and really wants the opportunity to complete an internship with us.

A number of our students every year are already known to us having interned with us in the past. Not only is this an indicator of how seriously we take our investment in our student contributors, but it also illustrates the value students place on the experience.

As an intern with HPCC Systems, students will work with a mentor, contributing to a thriving open source project alongside an experienced development team. But it doesn’t haven’t stop there. There is always the potential of a great future with HPCC Systems and LexisNexis waiting after graduation. Two students from our 2018 program have since been onboarded as LexisNexis employees.

The proposal period for the 2019 HPCC Systems Intern Program opens at the start of October and will close at the end of March 2019. We do award internships before the closing date to students who submit an excellent proposal we know we want to accept.

Notes

  1. Find out more about the our 2018 interns and their projects.
  2. Take a look at our list of available projects.
  3. Questions or just want to talk it through? Email Lorraine Chapman.
  4. Take a look at the HPCC Systems developer wiki. Download the latest version of the software or the source code.
  5. New to HPCC Systems? Find out about us and how HPCC Systems works.
  6. Join our open source community
  7. Read about our expectations of students during the summer internship program.
  8. Find out about our mentors. Read their testimonials.
  9. Really keen to intern with us? Here's how to stand out from the crowd.
  10. See the first blog in this series for more information about the LexisNexis summer intern program.