What our interns built this summer: Meet our 2019 intern class

October 11th, 2019
6 min read
What our interns built this summer: Meet our 2019 intern class article banner image

Every summer, we have a class of interns join our engineering team. They work on important and impactful projects, contribute to feature launches, site stability and making the codebase a more pleasant place to develop in. This year we had our largest class yet: 25 interns across engineering, data engineering, and data science teams.

As is our now yearly tradition, I caught up with some of our interns before they went back to school to get a sense of what they worked on and what they learned at Asana.

What work did interns do this summer?

Interns at Asana aren’t just “interns.” Our guide to intern mentorship says that we should, 

Treat interns like real employees […] interns are just part of the team; they do real work. They understand how their work affects our customers, and why it’s more important than a hundred other things we could be doing instead.” 

Here are the important and impactful projects some of our interns worked on this summer.

Harshita, Security

Harshita Gupta is a Bay Area native who enjoys reading, learning, and talking about political economy, philanthropy, and organizing. She’s also recently gotten into crafting mixed drinks (cocktails and mocktails!) and cooking. 

Harshita worked primarily on Asana’s framework to version and provision AWS permissions for infrastructure resources automatically. She also spent some time fixing vulnerabilities in Asana’s product, and ensuring that customers violating our Terms of Service aren’t using Asana.

Shrey, Monetization

Shrey Chowdhary describes himself as a foursquare fan (the ball game, not the app), and a “connoisseur of oxygen”. 

The Monetization team builds Asana’s premium experience. Asana has both free and paid versions, and the Monetization team builds the flows that enable users to pay for the product, and how users see various features throughout the product, depending on the tier they have paid for. This means the work they do has a large surface area, which provided Shrey the opportunity to work on many different parts of the codebase and collaborate with different teams.

 Some highlights:

  • One sprint, he was able to collaborate with the client infrastructure team on speeding up page load times for everyone by refactoring our billing plan object creation and loading.

  • One project involved collaboration with the security team and LunaDB team on deploying client-side public keys for our payment processor for Luna2

Fan Pu, Infrastructure Management

Fan Pu Zeng enjoys running, hiking, nature, anime, yoga, and programming until he was told that you cannot have the same passion as your job by too many people.

Fan Pu helped with the team’s migration of Python 2 to Python 3. He helped to automatically install Python 3 on all developer machines, wrote lint rules to enforce deprecating usages of Python 2 code, and implemented a testing framework for these lint rules. 

He also worked on improving our in-house framework to allow multiple Kubernetes worker clusters to share the same EKS control plane. This allows for faster deployments, easier management of containers, and significant cost savings. 

Stacey, First Experience

Stacey Ilioukhina likes to sketch in her free time, and enjoys playing board games, rock climbing, and hiking with other interns.

First Experience is responsible for making it easier for new users to get started in Asana. The team launches a lot of experiments to determine which features improve collaboration and product adoption. She implemented redesigns for two settings dialogs, to increase the number of new users getting invited to Asana at the project level.

She also explored projects outside of First Experience during off-sprint time and hackathons. This gave her a chance to refactor how we treat timezones in our timestamp implementation, bring new user experience to Internet Explorer users, and add some input verification to our internal experiment configuration tool.

Tiger, Notifications

Tiger He loves to run, the outdoors, trying new foods, and making people laugh.

The Notifications team was working on the framework conversion and new feature for Asana’s Inbox this summer. When someone takes an action inside the product (e.g. commenting on a task), it’s important that the user is able to find out about it, so you can respond. Inbox includes updates on all the work happening in Asana that you follow, allowing users to stay up to date with the happenings of their company. 

Since this feature was written over six years ago, it was built on a slower js framework (luna1). Tiger worked on rewriting this in our new TypeScript + React framework (luna2). He also worked on adding new features like Inbox Filters, which allow users to only see updates that they care about. This meant he had to work on many different parts of our stack, including:

  • Building out new React components in TypeScript 

  • Writing core notification sorting and grouping logic for inbox threads in Scala

  • Setting up new data-loading using our GraphQL like database service, LunaDB

Ivy, Integrations

Ivy Wang enjoys climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and hates butterflies.

The Integrations team builds and maintains applications so that Asana can be used with other platforms. As part of the team, Ivy worked on replacing the existing API-backed CSV Importer with a full web app feature version that uses incremental remote jobs to do imports. This improved the stability and maintainability of the CSV Importer.

This involved designing and implementing a new data model object that could track the status of remote jobs (our framework for long running, asynchronous work), writing the data loading and mutations needed by the new CSV Importer, and making changes to how imports were communicated to the server.

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What does mentorship look like at Asana?

Every intern gets support and guidance from several mentors during their time at Asana. Our mentors play a key role, from connecting interns to other team members and coaching them through challenges to identifying opportunities to help them maximize their success. 

“I enjoyed the supportive and positive mentorship that I received here, and feel like I’ve found a community at Asana!” – Harshita

“It’s a cycle of consistent feedback that tries to meet you wherever you are. At the start of my internship, my mentor scheduled daily one on ones to reflect on the day which provided a structured way to communicate and form a relationship.” – Shrey

“Mentorship does not just have to happen between a designated mentor and mentee. I got to meet a lot of really interesting and brilliant people from different backgrounds across Asana which made me realize that there are even more career pathways and definitions of success than I originally thought.” – Fan Pu

“I like how we are encouraged to interact with different people and parts of the codebase. My projects were chosen to be very different from each other, so there was always something new to learn.” – Stacey

“Mentorship at Asana feels extremely natural. There’s never any reason to hesitate when asking for guidance – everyone’s extremely enthusiastic about lending a hand! This is especially great since there are so many bright and knowledgeable people to learn from.”- Tiger

“I came in with a non-conventional software engineering background and my mentor took that to heart and always gave me tailored advice that was extremely applicable to me personally.” – Ivy

To read more about mentorship at Asana, see The Asana Engineering Guide to Intern Mentorship.

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What is it like to work at Asana?

At Asana, we treat company culture like a product: it’s designed and built by a team of people who each contribute to a different area of responsibility. For us, it’s important that our interns are able to engage in our company culture at large and get a sense of what it’s like to work here full time. 

“Working at Asana means that you will be surrounded by a large number of incredibly intelligent, talented, and hard-working people. This may seem intimidating, but everyone here is also incredibly humble, friendly, and willing to take time out of their day to help you. As a result, Asana is a place where there is endless potential for personal learning and growth.” – Ivy

“I love Asana’s distributed decision-making model (Areas of Responsibility) that allows individuals to take ownership of and drive clarity on substantial projects, no matter how long they’ve been at the company or what part of the organization they’re located in.” – Harshita

“I believe Asana provides a solid foundation which each individual can build upon to tailor their work experience. It’s all about communicating your wants and needs to the necessary people, who are almost always receptive because they understand your best work is done when these requirements are met.” – Shrey

“Asana is a very mindful workplace that appreciates the value of people’s time, which makes working here extremely pleasant and rewarding.” – Fan Pu

“Asana is a very collaborative work environment. I was constantly interacting with designers, data scientists, project managers and other engineers. I found that in other internships I was usually assigned a main project, but here projects were assigned to a group, teaching me more about how other people work and how to work with other people.” – Stacey

“Working at Asana is a truly amazing experience. Growth feels very intuitive when everyone’s eager to provide mentorship and when taking on new responsibilities is so easy. Being able to take ownership over a product feature and feeling invested in what you’re building are also really important to me, are some of the great parts about working on a product team at Asana. The healthy work culture and many employee benefits, especially the culinary program, make working at Asana feel a lot less like work!” – Tiger

To read more about how we think about making Asana a great company for new grads, see Advice to engineering new grads: Don’t start your career at just any company.

Learn more about our internship  program and see all our open positions and join us next year!

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