Argo employees and interns working at a laptop

How to Cultivate Talent in the Self-Driving Field? Start with Interns.

For 12 weeks this summer, our team at Argo welcomed just shy of 50 interns who represent the self-driving industry’s most promising new talent.

I love interns. In fact, I have chosen to manage internship programs for over a decade of my career. As the head of university relations, I understand the extraordinary impact interns can have: they are bright, ask good questions, and add tremendous value by tackling projects and offering new and different insight.

In addition, interns are a critical piece of our talent pipeline and present a great opportunity to improve the diversity of our team and the industry overall. We like to think about the internship experience as a test drive for everyone — interns get to test-drive a career with us and this industry, while Argo gets to test-drive their values, talent, and cultural fit.

As we look back on our time with the summer 2019 internship class, we’re happy to report that we’ve already extended full-time employment offers to nearly half of eligible interns. Plus, we’re in the process of extending second year internship offers to nearly 80 percent of eligible interns who have headed back to school.

So what’s it like to be an intern at Argo? It’s definitely not filing papers, fetching coffee, and otherwise being left to one’s own devices as is often portrayed on TV or in movies. As the leader of Argo’s internship program, it’s my responsibility to ensure our intern experience is a far cry from Hollywood.

The goal of our internship program is to offer a meaningful experience to students, as well as to create a sustainable talent pipeline. Achieving this goal requires that we provide our interns with the necessary tools, knowledge, and experiences to be successful in the self-driving industry and other technology fields. All of this translates into pairing them with senior mentors and strong support networks, providing real projects with concrete objectives and deadlines, giving them ownership of these projects, and setting up hands-on opportunities to seamlessly plug into the day-to-day work of our existing teams.

But it isn’t all work. Our interns also take part in outings, group mixers, and ‘lunch and learns’ — a time when interns can gather to learn about what their peers are working on. This summer, interns attended a baseball game, visited the zoo, and even went to an amusement park.

Interns in Palo Alto, CA, spend an afternoon at an amusement park.

Interns in Pittsburgh, PA, attend a baseball game.

All of this makes the Argo internship experience special. But instead of relying solely on my perspective, let’s look at some of the accomplishments of our intern class.

Jacob Manning was a junior in college when he reached out to our team. This led Jacob to the interview process for our intern candidates, and eventually culminated in an internship offer. Fast forward a year and a half, and Jacob is now a full-time software engineer for our Onboard Libraries team. Just a couple weeks ago, he hosted a group of freshmen in our office from his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, during which he spoke about his experience at Argo and how he got here. Hint: his path involved one other internship and a stint working at a popular quick-service restaurant. His story is just one example of how a lot of hard work, undergrad research, and personal learning, can lead to a stimulating career path right out of college.

Jacob Manning (left) in front of the incoming College of Engineering And Computer Science freshman class from the University of Pittsburgh, August 2019.

Allie (Ming-Fang) Chang and Patsorn Sangkloy returned this summer for their second year as interns with Argo. These PhD candidates were responsible for developing several key parts of Argoverse, a curated collection of data and HD maps we released in June to support academic research into self-driving technology. Allie took the lead on the 3D tracking dataset while Patsorn worked on creating an API to allow users to easily access data in Argoverse HD maps, writing tutorials, and cleaning up the datasets. Both are listed as co-authors, alongside full-time Argo staff and their respective PhD advisors, Dr. James Hays and Dr. Simon Lucey, on the white paper, Argoverse: 3D Tracking and Forecasting with Rich Maps. Most recently, Allie and Patsorn were involved in the work leading up to launching an upcoming Argoverse competition.

Left to right: Jagjeet Singh, Allie Chang, Patsorn Sangkloy.

NOTE: The first Argoverse competition will be announced in late September. The first place winning entry will be offered a Summer 2020 Argo Internship, in addition to a $1,500 cash prize. Runners-up will also receive awards. Check out for more details in the coming weeks!

Olivia Watkins spent her summer researching the ability to detect and classify sirens using microphones on our self-driving test vehicles. Siren detection is a critical step in building the prediction models that will allow our self-driving vehicles to safely move out of the way for emergency vehicles. In her final presentation, Olivia walked her peers and mentors through the performance of our latest classification model.

Sai Prathik Saba Bama (Prathik) joined our cybersecurity team to design and run proof-of-concept evaluations of tools that identify vulnerabilities in open-source software. He also created training content for our secure development lifecycle — a process used to design, develop, and test software. In addition, Prathik worked on several interesting side projects that involved extensive cross-team communications with our Cloud, Legal, IT, and Release and Deploy (RAD) teams.

Jake Flaming interned with the finance team. His internship experience allowed him to partner closely with numerous software team leaders to build a 10-year financial model for cloud data use and related cost impacts. Software is a significant expense, and understanding key inputs and how they change over time is critical to making informed, long-term business decisions.

Jacob Manning as an intern in 2018 (right), speaking with his peers and Ryan Waskiewicz (center), an engineer on our map tools team.

Everywhere we look — from our software engineering teams to finance, cybersecurity, business strategy, people operations, and more — our interns are playing an exciting role in our company. I am proud of the success of our program, and am looking forward to working with teams across Argo to hire the class of 2020 over the coming months.

If you’re a current student and are interested in an internship at Argo, check out our job board for open positions beginning this month, September, 2019. In the meantime, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our blog to keep in touch.

Interns pose with Argo employees for one last photo in our Palo Alto office, in August, 2019.

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