Intern Stories (3) : Chris

Chris Oh (18) — HBC Digital, Software Engineer

HBC Digital Interns (Chris on right)

Tell us about you, the company you worked for over the Summer and your position.

Over the Summer, I worked at a company called ‘HBC Digital’. HBC stands for ‘Hudson’s Bay Company’, which is a Canadian retail business group. It owns a bunch of other fashion retail companies such as ‘Gilt’, ‘Saks Fifth Avenue’, ‘Lord and Taylor’, etc.

I worked as a backend software developer in the ‘Gilt’ team. We were assigned to a team just made of interns. We worked with the Personalization team within the Data Science team to collect data for customer preferences. Our project was a greenfield project, meaning we started from scratch. The intern team has total control of the implementation and decision making in the design process.


What was the most helpful thing you did to get your internship?

I started to prepare for Summer internships beginning in the late Fall of 2016. I attended almost every career fair that occurred on campus and applied to any internship job openings online.

Practice makes perfect. I participated in study groups focusing on preparing for coding interviews. I learned Python to practice coding questions. I think Python is one of the more easier languages to pick up and use right away. There is language specific benefits, syntax, which takes off some thinking load.

Practice makes perfect.

Another very useful thing I did was getting AWS certified. Over Spring break, I studied for the AWS Solutions Architect certification. This is an exam focused for developers and project managers to understand the services AWS provides. But not only that, I got a higher understanding of how infrastructure is designed and function. These types of question sometimes appear but gives you a better understanding of the reasoning behind your implementation. It is very useful when you are asked about scalability.


In terms of school, which class really helped you get the internship, and prepare you for the actual job?

INFO 344(server-side web development) no doubt. I took INFO 344 with Chun-Kai Wang in Spring 2016. The classes that are really tough teaches you the most. Having a higher understanding of the entire stack really helped me prepare for technical interviews.

The classes that are really tough teaches you the most

I highly recommend INFO 344 to friends who are planning to dive deeper into software development as a future career.


What did you most like about your job?

I really enjoyed the culture of the company. Every month, the company held an event called ‘5@4’ which is similar to TED, 5 employees can talk about anything interesting work/non-work related at 4 pm. Also, the company had Summer Fridays, where employees can leave work at 1 pm on Fridays. Overall, everyone who works there doesn’t seem to be too stressed about work all the time. Work-life balance was pretty good among employees, which is a very important factor for me.


Any other advise?

Getting internships is a numbers game. I applied to about 100 companies just to get accepted to this one company. At the end you can only accept one company, why not increase your chance of getting a job by applying to many companies? What could hurt?

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