The Quantcast Engineering Internship Program is a hands-on learning experience focused on projects that impact the company and our clients. Interns work closely with engineers and managers to design and develop products in collaboration, and also have the opportunity to own projects from start to finish.
We’re highlighting one of our stellar summer interns, Lu Esteban, to get the inside scoop on her experience in our San Francisco office. Lu is a rising junior at Princeton University, majoring in Computer Science with minors in Linguistics and Asian American Studies. In this interview, she tells us about the most exciting challenges she faced, what she most enjoyed about the program, and what advice she’d offer to other students seeking an internship.
How did you become interested in engineering?
I enjoyed math and physics in high school and originally entered uni intending to study civil engineering as a natural progression of those interests. I had very little exposure to computer science, so in my first semester I enrolled in an introductory algorithms course, hoping to get some useful technical skills. I started learning other programming languages on the side, took a few more algorithms and systems classes in the next semesters, and loved all of it. I am continually drawn in by software engineering’s combination of high-detail, technical challenges with creative and often open-ended solution design.
What did you enjoy most about interning at Quantcast?
The best part has been the welcoming and collaborative work environment! It’s easy to meet people from different teams and management levels, and I’ve learned so much about the company and general product development outside of my own project. I knew next to nothing about adtech before the internship, and now feel that I have a good grasp of how the industry operates as well as some insight into the technical state of the field.
I’ve also valued being able to work on a project that was both relevant to the company and also technically challenging. A lot of prep goes into setting aside and designing projects for incoming interns here—my engineering team created a wonderful environment of support and provided structured expectations while still encouraging me to have ownership over the project.
What have been some exciting challenges you’ve come across in your internship and how have they shaped you?
From the technical side, Quantcast has an extensive web of systems and products that take time and conscious perusal to understand—definitely the broadest, most developed stack I’ve ever worked on. In the first few weeks of the internship, I relied heavily on my mentor and team to understand how the systems and the company operate; it took a while to get comfortable working with such large-scale systems (as opposed to the much smaller stacks I’ve worked on before). I now feel confident in estimating how well I need to understand products/systems/raw code to contribute effectively without getting hung up spending too much time on understanding the deepest details.
At a higher level, I’ve found the broader product design was especially challenging and rewarding. The first part of my project involved defining the finer details of existing product requirements for the feature I was implementing. It was refreshing to be exposed to the product side of software engineering (SWE), and I was able to experience how engineers balance user needs with logistical/computing limitations to create effective technical solutions. Through the internship, I’ve become increasingly interested in product management and design, and hope to continue pursuing more experience in product development at university after the internship.
What are your top three career goals?
At the risk of giving a non-answer, my top career goals are to remain flexible and open to new opportunities, to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and to find a few niche areas in which to really develop my technical skills in the long-term. More practically, I’d like to spend some time learning/working in network security and especially in the intersection between security/data privacy tech and public policy.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing an internship?
I would advise other internship seekers to look closely at the work culture and working environment of places they hope to intern at. There are a lot of resources out there for individual or async development of technical skills, but industry experience is so valuable, and the working environment will be a huge part of your impression of the industry. Other people who are experienced in the field are perhaps the best resource out there—use internships as an opportunity to learn from mentors and other engineers who can advise you not only on technical projects but also on navigating the industry and the field as a whole. As someone who has no immediate family or other close personal mentors with any SWE experience, I’ve found that my team at Quantcast has been invaluable in helping me understand adtech as well as broader software engineering and different career paths as a software engineer.
Interested in applying for an internship at Quantcast? Check out our internship opportunities for 2023. Find out more about the engineering internship program and the application process here. And to learn about 3 of our engineers who didn’t follow a typical trajectory into the field, read Engineering Ingenuity: 3 Unique Career Pathways.