The Otto-biography of an Intern

Team Otto together at one of our bi-weekly company gatherings.
Me: **Googles Tyto Life LLC**
Google: Your search did not match any documents.

That was my first impression of what would become Otto LLC when I was interviewing for an internship with the company back in January and February of 2017. I will admit that I was a little skeptical about joining the company then. Join a company that no one knows anything about and has been in stealth mode for four years? (It wouldn’t be until my first day of my internship for me to find what the product was.) I definitely had my doubts but my gut told me it was the right thing to do. So I took a leap of faith and joined the company as a software engineering intern on the cloud team. And I’m so glad I did.

Otto launched its first flagship product, the Otto Lock, on August 24th, 2017 to millions of people and dozens of news organizations, such as Bloomberg, Fortune, The Verge, and TechCrunch. Being a part of a company’s first product launch team has been an exciting and humbling experience for me. I have a deep admiration for everyone at Otto for coming together to create this amazing product and could not have imagined what this company is today back in February.

In addition to being a part of the launch team, I have learned and grown so much during my time with the company. I got the chance to implement and test a few backend API endpoints for our sharing feature, add new features to our internal admin tool, fix bugs throughout our system, push code into production, and work extensively with JavaScript, Node.js, TypeScript, and Mocha. I’ve really been able to take ownership of what I worked on at Otto and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a software engineer in the industry.

Everyone on the software team has been so friendly and supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. There are a few individuals I’d like to highlight who have been highly influential figures to me.

Dustin Kimmel. My mentor. Thank you for advising me on becoming a better software engineer, giving me career advice, and bearing with me while I learned the ropes. I was actually a little intimidated when you gave me that Ember.js book on my first day but you guided me through our system and taught me how to effectively communicate my work with others. Although I still have much to learn, I feel like I’ve become a much better software engineer since I got here thanks to your mentorship. I’ll always keep in mind “what I’m trying to do” first.

Aarti Parikh. My manager. You have been pushing to learn new things and jump right into the action even while I was still interviewing with the company. I know you’ve been super busy with pulling the cloud team together but I really appreciate you taking the time to make sure I was happy and enjoying what I was doing. Congratulations on your promotion! You really deserve it.

Andrew Burks. My director. You introduced me to the software team at Otto and really “set me up for success” for my career. Although we didn’t get the chance to work closely together, thank you for offering me the opportunity to join this incredible team, sharing your experiences with the industry, and spreading your contagious enthusiasm and excitement for the work we’re doing.

Brian Cervenka. Thank you for being a great desk neighbor and letting me bug you about Git, CI, Docker, and deployment issues. Before this internship, I was deathly afraid of using Git. Funny enough, if I ran into a merge conflict, I would actually copy my code onto my clipboard, delete my local repository, re-clone it, and add back in my code. Thanks to you, I now have a pretty good understanding of how Git works and can fly through merge conflicts with ease.

Kevin Burke and Taylor Halliday. Thanks to you two, I’ve learned so much about JavaScript, TypeScript, and promises. When you guys signed on to work with the company, I’m not sure if you guys knew you were going to be working with an intern but thank you for helping me become a better Node.js developer.

Tania Soriano. You were my first point of contact with the company. Thank you for dealing with a college sophomore who was (and still is) trying to figure out how the industry and recruiting process worked. You made the whole process very smooth for me. Best of luck with the new baby!

People who I didn’t work directly with but were still influential to my internship experience: Madhumita Kedlaya, Jimmy Bao, Marco Ancheta, James Ferrandini, JG, Brian Williams, Archana Ramachandran, Nishant Bhansali, and Yeang Shin Phay. Thank you for the fun times, entertaining lunch conversations, and boba. You all shared your experiences and insights with the industry with me and offered mentorship where you could and I’m incredibly appreciative of that.

I’ve been emphasizing how much I’ve grown professionally as an aspiring software engineer but I’ve also grown on a personal level as well. Although I’m still figuring who I want to be as a person, I’ve started to realize who/what I care about and what is important to me. Having just turned 20 and been a teenager who would stress about every little thing, I plan on going into my 20s doing what I want to do, taking more risks, and having more trust and confidence in myself. Taking that huge leap of faith to intern at Otto is a testament to that goal.

These past 12 weeks of summer with Otto is an adventure I won’t be forgetting soon. I couldn’t have asked for a better first internship (and job) experience. I wish all the best to Sam Jadallah and the rest of Team Otto! I look forward to following this company and seeing what the future holds for Otto. And hopefully one day, we’ll be able to see each other again.


More acknowledgments since why not:

My family. I wouldn’t be where I am today with you guys. I can’t thank you guys enough for all the love and support you have given me.

Helen Lee, Nikhil Kansal, Su Thaw, Frances Lai, and Eric Zhang. Our D2 crew. I don’t know how I would have survived these past two years at UCLA without you guys. Thank you for helping me when I was struggling in class, listening to my rants, keeping me sane, and being the best friends I could wish for. To all my other friends from UCLA and high school I can’t fit in this one paragraph, thank you for sticking with me and being amazing friends. I can’t wait to see what our last two years of college are going to hold for us!

And finally, to the other half of my summer experience, thank you to AFX Dance, especially those in AFXTRM, at UC Berkeley. I danced the summer away with you guys and it went by way too fast. I’m glad to have become good friends with some of you and sad that I wasn’t able to get closer to some others. Although I’ll be going back to LA soon, I hope we’ll still be able to stay in touch and see each other during breaks.

Stay tuned to see what else I’ll be up to in the future!