Commonwealth Scholar Tejendra Patel '15 of New Bedford put his UMass Dartmouth education to work. The computer engineering major, with a minor in mathematics, completed several internships that that helped him identify his passions, improve his skills, and increase his opportunities.
During his freshman and sophomore year, Tejendra interned at software design and development company Nextdrift Technologies as a full stack web developer. In his junior and senior years, he continued on the experiential learning track with a co-op at EMC and an internship at Akamai Technologies as a user experience (UX) engineer. After completing his summer internship at Akamai Technologies, Tejendra was offered a full-time position to join the company as an interaction engineer.
Tejendra was also a member of the Indian Student Association in his sophomore year, helping organize the annual Diwali celebration on campus.
Internships widen horizons
Internships have been a crucial part of my college career. They have served as experimental jobs to help me figure out what my passion is and what makes me tick. Every internship had its own challenges that allowed me to widen my horizon and step out of my comfort zone.
My first internship was the concrete foundation of the opportunities and success that followed. Unlike most summer internships, Nextdrift required autonomous, off-site work. It was a challenge: it was very difficult working from home, setting my own hours, and reporting the hours worked. In college, it's easy to ask the professors for help, and they would be able to sketch out problems on the board to easily explain the concept. However, working remotely, I had to master the art of online meetings and electronic communication.
College is easy in the sense that a professor teaches you and tells you what you need to learn. In my internships, I was given a vision of what the end product might look like, and I was responsible to figure out which tools and languages are right for building that product.
The experiences I gained from the internships have made me a highly responsible, self-disciplined, self-managed, and self-motivated individual who is able to work with little or no supervision. When I went to other jobs and even in the classroom, I took it upon myself to figure out what needs to be done rather than wait to be told to do something.
User analytics to design a better web experience
My final internship was at Akamai, a provider of cloud services. I applied and interviewed for the UX engineer position, thinking that they make pretty-looking websites—a skill that was a weakness of mine that I wanted to improve. During the interview my assumptions quickly proved invalid.
As a UX Engineer at Akamai, my responsibilities were to understand how users interact with Akamai’s web portal, and what tasks and goals they wish to accomplish on the site. Using that information, we can better design the portal so that users are less frustrated and can easily accomplish their tasks. To find answers to these difficult questions, I started a project to collect client-side analytics. If we know what users are clicking on, which pages they are spending the most time on, and how they are navigating, we can work backwards to figure out their intentions and redesign the portal as needed.
The future: interaction engineer
I was hired back at Akamai Technologies Inc. for the project I started as an intern. I will be using my skills in engineering and programming to implement methods to collect user analytics and strategize how to use that data to improve the design and workflow of Akamai’s web portal.