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  1. How to make the most of your internship

    March 14, 2014 by Ian Perry

    My goal for this post is simple: help you understand how to get the most out of your summer internship. I realize the timing is a little off, since it’s mid-March, and I know summer seems way off. However, it’s just around the corner, and I’m sure internships are on many students’ minds. Using examples from my internship last summer, I hope that I’ll be able to help give some useful tips/advice on how to have a successful internship experience.

    Last summer, I worked as a mobile software engineering intern at Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. I worked in Digital Sport, which is within the Consumer Digital Technology department. More specifically, I worked on the Nike+ Running app for the iPhone. It was an unbelievable and amazing experience, and I will be returning full time after graduation. There were several keys to my success as an intern, some of which will probably sound familiar, and some of which will hopefully be new to you.

    BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

    Relationship building, also known as networking, is very important. You may only work with a handful of people throughout the summer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t meet more. I worked on a small team at Nike’s headquarters, where thousands of people work. My team was amazing, but just a small fraction of the people who work at Nike. One of the first things I did was use LinkedIn to find every Cornell alumnus who works at Nike, and reach out to them via email. In turn, they told me more people that I should reach out to, who told me even more people I should meet. These meetings don’t have to be long, just ask to get coffee for 30 minutes, or even just 15 if they’re really busy. People like meeting interns, and it’s rare that someone will say no to your request.

    During these informational meetings, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be trying to “get anything” out of these people. Ask them about what they do, how they like their job, what fun things you should do in the area, and just be friendly! After you meet with them, be sure to send a follow-up email thanking them for taking the time. I would also recommend reaching out again later in the summer, and once you’re back at school to let them know what you’re up to.

    USE THE INTERN CARD

    The “intern card,” is an important part of being an intern. However, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor work performance. Instead, it should be used to meet as many people as you can, ask questions, and learn. It’s kind of like being a freshman in college, as it gives you an excuse to talk to people who you don’t know. All you have to say is, “Hi, I’m an intern, and I was wondering…” No questions asked, most people are going to introduce themselves and help you get where you’re trying to go. It’s also great during meetings when people are dropping company-specific acronyms that sound like gibberish to you. All you have to say is, “Could you explain what that means, I’m still getting used to all of the terms.” Full-time employees may be expected to know such terms, but as an intern, you’re probably not (at least at the beginning of the summer.) The whole point of what I’m calling the “intern card,” is to take advantage of being an intern, not to use being an intern as an excuse, but as a way to learn as much as possible.

    NEVER SAY NO

    As an intern, you should take on all the work that you can in order to get more experience and learn as much as possible. Even though I had one or two main projects I was working on, I took on more work at times, in order to help out and learn things with which I was unfamiliar. One of the features I worked on was the Coach feature in the Nike+ Running app, but my manager also let me come up with my own feature. I took it from idea to prototype throughout the summer, and had the opportunity to present it to leadership in Consumer Digital Technology. This was a really amazing experience, and a lot of it was due to my manager being awesome and letting me do it. However, I also did not hesitate for a second when he told me about the idea of coming up with my own feature. I knew it would be one of many projects, but there was absolutely no way I was going to turn down that opportunity.

    If you ever find yourself with no work to do, then ask people if they need help with anything. Take the initiative, and also don’t be afraid to be creative. Share your opinions in meetings, and speak your mind. You’re there for a reason, and it’s important to prove your worth.

    WORK HARD, PLAY HARD

    The culture at Nike fits this next tip very well: work hard, play hard. Everyone not only works extremely hard, but they also know how to have fun. As an intern, working hard should be your number one priority, but it’s almost just as important to be well-rounded and have fun. One thing I did was join the intern kickball team. This was a great way to bond with my fellow interns, as well as be active and have fun. Our team ended up getting second place, and we’ll be back with a vengeance next year!

    kickball team

    Intern kickball team

    Another way to have fun is to go to every event that sounds interesting. Throughout the summer, I was able to attend some really cool events, the highlights of which included seeing many professional athletes. If you’re planning on going to an event, you should also be sure to invite your coworkers. It’s a great way to spend some time with them while not working.

    As an intern, you’ll also probably have the option to go to intern only events. Definitely go to as many of these events as possible. They are a great way to get to know your fellow interns better, as well as have fun. I was able to hear leaders within Nike speak at some of these events, which was a very unique and rare opportunity. In addition, I also got to attend a river rafting trip, which was tons of fun.

    This leads to my next point about having fun, which is that you should never be doing nothing on the weekends during your summer as an intern. Ask your coworkers what types of things you should do on the weekend, and explore every inch of wherever the company you’re working for is located. Last summer was my first time in Oregon, and I spent lots of time with other interns exploring the area. Some highlights were going to the coast, hiking near Mt. Hood, and exploring downtown Portland.

    Mt. Hood

    Hiking the Mirror Lake Trailhead. Mt. Hood in the distance

    BE HAPPY

    This one’s short, but don’t forget to be happy at all times throughout the summer. I loved what I was working on, and I was always excited to be in the office. If you’re not happy about going to work each day, that might be a good indication that you’re not in the right job. That’s okay though, because you’re an intern and you have plenty of time to decide what job you want to have.

    MAKE FRIENDS

    Last, but certainly not least, make friends with the other interns. They’re in the same position as you. Yes, this is another part of the whole relationship building thing, but these are the relationships that are likely going to last a lifetime. I had a core group of about 15-20 interns that I got to know pretty well, and we still keep in touch on a daily basis. They’re an amazing group of talented people, and a big reason for why my internship experience at Nike was as amazing as it was.

    Feel free to leave any questions about internships in the comments section. I’d also love to hear any other tips that people have about how to get the most out of an internship.


  2. When class doesn’t feel like class

    March 11, 2014 by Ian Perry

    This semester, I’m taking a class in the Information Science department called Introduction to Rapid Prototyping and Physical Computing. So far, we have been introduced to programming with Arduino, and have been learning to use different sensors through a variety of projects. Prior to this class, I had experience with software, but had never really explored the world of hardware. It was something that I was interested in learning, and something that I would have probably wanted to pick up on my own anyway, even if it wasn’t offered as a class. The work does not feel like work as much as just something interesting that I’m learning. For me, it’s a class that doesn’t really feel like a class.

    This week, we had an assignment due in which the only requirement was to use a certain component in our design, an RGB LED light. Other than that, we were encouraged to be creative and have fun with whatever we designed. Some students, maybe even myself in the past, would cringe at such an open-ended assignment because there are no clear requirements, other than the one. One thing that typically causes worry with such open-ended assignments is grades. During my time at Cornell, one thing I have learned is that I usually have more fun, and learn more if I keep grades a secondary thought with these kinds of projects. Yes, they’re important, but if you create something you’re proud of and learn throughout the process, shouldn’t that count for something? Also, from my experience, focusing on having fun and learning, often results in good grades anyway.

    As an example of the kinds of things that we get to design in the class, below is the video from my assignment. I combined two of my passions, running and technology, to create a running light which is designed to be attached to a runner’s sneaker. The runner can change the color of the light by pushing a button, and the light changes brightness depending on how bright it is outside using an ambient light sensor. I also used a gyroscope to make the light blink when the runner is moving.

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    If you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited that I’m taking this class. We’ll be continuing to work with Arduino, and also get to do some laser cutting and 3D printing. We also have a very open-ended final project, in which my group and I are designing and building a basketball-shooting robot. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out, and will post a video of the final product in a later blog post. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class like this, even if you have limited software or hardware experience and it seems like unchartered territory, I would highly recommend taking it. You will learn a ton about the way things work. More generally, if you find a class that doesn’t feel like a class, you’re probably in the right place.


  3. Going digital

    January 31, 2014 by Ian Perry

    This semester will mark many “lasts” for me as a Cornell undergraduate since I’ll be graduating in May. However, it also marks a notable first. For the first time in my career as a student, I did not have to purchase a physical textbook for any of my classes.

    In high school, I remember having to carry around enormous books for the entire day, and how inconvenient and uncomfortable it was. Carrying around a backpack that weighs 30+ pounds everywhere you go can definitely take a toll on your back. It was also a huge pain because you often needed the textbook both in class and at home to do homework. Things are different in college because you often don’t need to bring the book with you to class, but it can still be nice to have it with you when you go to the library or office hours.

    One of the the main differences between textbooks in high school and textbooks in college is that you have to pay for them once you enter college. Not only do you have to pay for them, but they can get expensive. As a freshman engineering student, I remember textbooks costing upwards of $400 total for each semester. Then, at the end of the semester, you have a pile of expensive very thick books sitting in your dorm room and it’s often not worth it to sell them back to the store because you only get a fraction of the original value. Before you know it, you have books that you’ve accumulated from many semesters, which you’ll probably never open again.

    At the start of this semester, I went through the usual procedure of checking The Cornell Store’s website to see which textbooks I’d need for class. Surprisingly, I needed very few. I was also able to find that every book has an electronic edition available through Amazon. So, for the first time as an undergrad, I didn’t buy a single physical textbook. I purchased e-books instead. Not only were the books less expensive as digital copies, but now I don’t have to carry any books around. Instead, all I need is a computer, tablet, or smartphone to read the books. This also means that I won’t have to add to the pile of books in my room at the end of the semester, which will probably be difficult to move across the country after graduating.

    It’s amazing how much has changed since freshman year when I had to lug three or four gigantic books from north campus to the engineering quad almost every day. Now, I don’t have to carry any books with me to class. If you have the option of choosing e-books, I would definitely recommend it. It will probably save you money, and make your backpack way more comfortable on your back.

     

     


  4. What I learned from being a TA

    January 17, 2014 by Ian Perry

    Last semester, I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for INFO 1300, Introduction to Web Design. Since it was my first time being a TA, I wanted to make sure that I got the “whole” experience, so I signed up to be involved in both teaching and grading. Every week, I led a section with another TA, graded projects, and held an office hour. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and wish I would have had the chance to be a TA earlier on during my career at Cornell. Some of my key takeaways from the experience are listed below.

    Teaching is fun

    Some of my favorite parts of being a TA came while teaching section and during office hours. It was fun helping students learn web design, something that I’m passionate about. It also felt good to help students understand something new that they had never learned before. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with helping other students, especially since I’m a student myself. You want to see your students succeed, and this often takes patience, which brings me to my next takeaway.

    Be patient

    If you are not a patient person, teaching something like programming to students who have zero programming experience can be tough. Even though I’m a fairly patient person, it was still easy to get frustrated at times during office hours. However, I understand that new concepts and material aren’t always easy to pick up at first having been in that situation myself. Being a TA helped me become an even more patient person, and made me appreciate the importance of patience while teaching. It’s easy to just give students the answers they’re looking for. However, it’s not always as easy to help students arrive at a solution to their problems without telling them exactly how to do it. I understand the importance of this even more now that I’ve experienced it from a teaching perspective.

    Often, the best way to learn something is by teaching it

    I’ve heard people say this many times, and I got to experience it firsthand while being a TA. Web design is something that I very much enjoy, however, it’s not something that I practice every day. I’ve taken a few courses in web design, but, being a TA in an intro web design course really helped me strengthen my skills when it comes to the basics in web design.

    I’m not a huge fan of grading

    Although I very much enjoyed the teaching part of being a TA, I didn’t care as much for grading. It was definitely a valuable experience to be on the grading side of projects, however, assigning grades wasn’t my favorite part of being a TA. That being said, I definitely learned a lot about the grading process from the perspective of both the grader and the student, and I’m happy that I decided to participate in grading throughout the semester. In addition, as I mentioned above about learning, grading was a great way to learn the material even better because I got to see how different students completed the same projects in different ways.

    Overall, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a TA at least once while at Cornell. I’d love to hear about what you learned from being a TA in the comments below.


  5. Running towards a SMART goal

    November 20, 2013 by Ian Perry

    It’s almost that time of year when everyone starts thinking about their New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. Before thinking about goals for 2014 though, I wanted to write about one of my goals that I set for myself at the start of 2013.

    At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to get back into running. I say get back into running because I had run track in high school and cross country in middle school. However, I stopped running after my sophomore year of high school, and hadn’t really done any form of running since. So, I set a goal for myself that I would get back into running in 2013. Conveniently, during the time I was setting this goal, I was helping out at Shelby.tv, where the founders, Reece and Dan, were stressing the importance of setting SMART goals, not only for the company, but for everyone on the team. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Clearly, my goal was not very SMART. It wasn’t very measurable or specific. How far was I going to run? Was I going to run a certain number of times a week? In other words, how could I set myself up to successfully achieve my goal? Thinking about this a little more, I ultimately decided on a very specific goal. What started out as “start running again in 2013″ turned into “run a marathon before the end of 2013.” Unlike the original goal, the new goal was very specific, definitely measurable, and definitely timely. Now, as I said, I ran track in high school. More specifically, I did sprints. So, the farthest I had ever run at once was probably no more than five or six miles. So, setting a goal for myself of running 26.2 miles at one time may seem like it didn’t qualify as attainable or very realistic. However, I felt strongly about setting a goal that wouldn’t be too easy. I wanted to challenge myself and really get back into running. I knew that training for 26.2 would help me do so, so I decided to go for it.

    The first thing I did was head to the Niketown in New York City and invest in a pair of running shoes and a watch which would help me track my running. Next, I did what I knew would keep me motivated with my running: I registered for a race. I set my sights on the Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon in Ithaca during the month of April. It seemed like a great first step, and I had about three months to get ready. Then, I started running. I did the majority of my training in Ithaca, running all over Cornell’s campus. Training during the winter months in Ithaca was definitely not easy, but I was able to stay motivated, and ventured out into the snow and cold week after week to make sure I’d meet my goal.

    In the beginning of April, I accepted an internship offer to spend the summer at Nike working on the Nike+ Running team. I would get the chance to work on the very products which I had been using to work towards achieving my goal. Excited by the opportunity, I became even more inspired to run. I successfully completed the Skunk Cabbage half in mid-April. 13.1 miles was now the furthest I’d ever run. I was so caught up on reaching this first milestone, that I stopped running. End of semester excitement, and schoolwork contributed to this stoppage, but it was no excuse. I didn’t run at all in May, and I definitely wasn’t on track to meet my goal anymore. Not to mention, I still hadn’t chosen a marathon to register for. I kept telling myself I was just too busy, and that I’d return to training once I started my internship. Being too busy is not a good excuse, and I’ve come to realize that it should never keep me from doing things I love, like running. I was right, however, that I would return to running once I got to Oregon for the summer.

    Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon

    One of the coolest things about working on the Nike+ Running app, a product which I use, was being able to go for a run with the latest build and test out the newest features. The culture at Nike made me really want to make sure I was running regularly, but the hectic-ness of being an intern also sometimes made it difficult to find the time. I’ll go into more detail about my experience as an intern at Nike in a later post, but one of the main takeaways for me, with regard to running, was that I wanted to be more than just a runner. I wanted to be a part of the community of runners that exists all over the world. This really helped inspire me to get back to running. I ran when I could over the summer, but also really loved what I was working on, so it was often difficult to choose between the two. However, once I got back to school in August, I made sure I was running as much as possible. I finally chose a marathon and registered for it. I had my sights set on the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17. I grew up about 30 min outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey, and my Mom now lives in Pennsylvania about 20 min outside of the city. So, I knew it would be easy to arrange travel plans, and I knew that in a little less than three months, I’d be running my first marathon.

    Training did not go exactly as expected, as I got injured in the beginning of October, but I was determined to do my best to stay on course. I kept on path to meet my goal, and this past Sunday, I ran and finished the Philadelphia Marathon. It was a really great experience, and completely worth every second of effort I’ve put into running over the past 11 months. It’s really amazing how many complete strangers cheered me on, and helped keep me going throughout the race. Some of the highlights for me were high-fiving the Mayor of Philadelphia at the starting line, and then crossing the finish line 26.2 miles later.

    Philadelphia Marathon 2013

    Not only was I able to achieve my SMART goal of running a marathon in 2013, but in the process, I also achieved my goal of “getting back into running.” So, what’s next? I definitely plan on running more marathons in the future. I not only want to improve my time, but explore other cities around the world by running 26.2 miles through their streets. I also have my sights set on my first triathlon sometime in the near future, although I have a long road of training ahead of me for that. Something makes me think it’ll be worth it though.

    Below are some pictures I took while running on campus.

    McGraw Tower

    Beebee Lake


  6. One last hurrah

    October 7, 2013 by Ian Perry

    Well, now that we’re already about a month into the fall semester, it’s probably about time I started blogging again. The usual start of the semester craziness coupled with the job search has prevented me from starting sooner, but I plan on getting back to blogging regularly starting now.

    After spending the summer in Portland, Oregon interning at Nike (more blog posts to come about this), it was a little strange coming back to Ithaca, although I’m happy to be back. Actually, Ithaca kind of reminds me of Portland in a lot of ways. There are a bunch of similarities between the cultures, there are a lot of outdoorsy things to do, and there’s tons of good food to be found. Now that I’m back for my final year as an undergraduate, I’ve started thinking about all of the things that I haven’t yet experienced at Cornell and in Ithaca. There are so many things that I have yet to do, and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.

    It’s really easy to get very focused on your school work at Cornell, and it tends to happen often. This makes it easy to come up with excuses for not doing things. In my opinion, “I have too much work,” is never a good enough reason for not going on a hike, not going for a run, not exploring the Ithaca Commons, or not heading down to the Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning. Yeah, school work is important, but the experiences that make being a Cornellian what it is are just as important. So, this year, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I explore everything that Cornell and Ithaca have to offer, and not get caught up in just doing school work all the time.

    I’d say I’m off to a decent start. This weekend, I finally made it to Cornell’s golf course for the first time and I also went to Apple Fest for the first time. It only took me four years, but hey, better late then never.

    I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging, and plan to cover many topics. I’m also hoping to get Hanging with Cornellians started up again, so if you have any suggestions for who I should interview, let me know in the comments.

    Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions for things at Cornell or in Ithaca that I absolutely must do before graduating, feel free to leave a comment.


  7. Hanging with Cornellians – Gabe Corredor

    May 2, 2013 by Ian Perry

    The latest Hanging with Cornellians interview features Cornell alum Gabe Corredor. After graduating in 2005, Gabe worked in the finance industry for six years. He then started his first company, and has since started another company called Artissano. In the interview, Gabe talks about starting a company in New York City, what he misses most about Cornell, and more.

     

     

    To see all of the videos in the series, visit hangingwithcornellians.shelby.tv


  8. Hanging with Cornellians – Alex Payne

    April 29, 2013 by Ian Perry

    The latest Hanging with Cornellians interview features Alex Payne, Cornell ’09. After graduating from Cornell, Alex joined Teach for America and then went to graduate school at Syracuse University. Alex is now working in Washington, D.C. at the Partnership for Public Service. While at Cornell, Alex was also a student blogger, and his blog can be found here.

     

     

    To see all of the videos in the series, visit hangingwithcornellians.shelby.tv


  9. Happy Foursquare Day!

    April 16, 2013 by Ian Perry

    April 16th has become known by many as Foursquare Day. Foursquare Day celebrates Foursquare, the local discovery app. People around the world celebrate the app on this day, in many ways such as throwing parties, hosting Meetups, and meeting fellow Foursquare users. In addition, many businesses offer specials specific to the day, to encourage people to celebrate.

    One of the things I love most about Foursquare is that different people see different value in using the app. For some, it’s the lists, tips, badges, points, mayorships, etc. For me, it’s been the evolution of the Explore feature. Explore gives you amazing recommendations based on what you like to do. Foursquare has collected data from billions of check-ins, and from this data, it’s able to tell you the best places to go at any given time. Not only has it helped me discover new places, but it’s also great when having a group of often indecisive friends. Instead of talking about where we want to go for half an hour, I just open up Foursquare and it helps us find a great place to go.

    Last Foursquare Day, I asked Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick (Cornell ’09) to proclaim April 16 as Foursquare Day in Ithaca, and he did. He joined a list of many other mayors across the country who had done the same. This year, he’s once again proclaimed April 16 as Foursquare Day.

     

    Foursquare Day 2013 Ithaca Proclamation

     

    Foursquare Day is more than just about celebrating an app though. It’s about celebrating the world around you. The world is huge and there’s so much to see. Foursquare helps make sure you don’t miss a thing. One of the great things about using Foursquare in Ithaca has been my ability to keep track of all of the amazing things to do here. For example, I spent last summer in Ithaca, and made this list with some of my favorite things to do in the summer. There are tons more lists to follow and great tips from Foursquare users everywhere you go.

    Whether you’re a dedicated Foursquare user or have never used the app before, happy Foursquare Day! (If you’ve never used it, I encourage you to try it out! Plus, you’ll get a cool 4sqDay badge if you check in today.)

    Feel free to leave your Foursquare stories in the comments.

     


  10. Thoughts on Hanging with Cornellians

    April 5, 2013 by Ian Perry

    This last week was busier than usual, and I didn’t have time to interview anyone. So, instead of a video, I’ve decided to discuss some thoughts I have about the Hanging with Cornellians series so far.

    Thoughts

    At first, the idea came from my desire to want to meet “interesting” Cornellians. I wanted to interview people from all different backgrounds about their passions and interests. One thing I’ve learned is that the term “interesting” is very loose. What you and I consider interesting is different than what someone else considers interesting. Therefore, one way to look at it is that everyone is doing something interesting.

    I think the main value of the series so far has been to showcase different aspects of life as a Cornellian. This is why I think it’s important to have students, alumni, and faculty on the series. Students give a unique perspective of what it’s like to be at Cornell right now, alumni can share their journey since graduating from Cornell, and faculty can share what they’re working on at Cornell.

    I’ve also really enjoyed asking everyone what their favorite thing about Cornell is, or what they miss most about Cornell. I think this really helps define the Cornell experience, and how people value being at Cornell differently.

    hangingwithcornellians.shelby.tv

    I also want to draw attention to hangingwithcornellians.shelby.tv, which in addition to YouTube, is another place that I’ve been putting all of the videos. It’s essentially a “channel” of video just from Hanging with Cornellians. As I interview more and more people, this will be an awesome place to go see all the videos. It makes it extremely easy to find the latest interviews, as well as the earlier ones.

    hangingwithcornellians.shelby.tv

     

    Feedback

    I’d really love to hear what you think of the Hanging with Cornellians series so far. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

    Also, if you know someone who you think should be interviewed, or if you yourself would like to be interviewed, you can reach out to me at hangingwithcornellians (at) gmail (dot) com.