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Startup Culture

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QTime: What I Learned as an Aiqudo Intern

By App Actions, Startup Culture, Uncategorized, Voice No Comments

Mithil Chakraborty

Intern Voice: Mithil Chakraborty

Hi! My name is Mithil Chakraborty and I’m currently a senior at Saratoga High School. During the summer of 2020, I had the privilege of interning at Aiqudo for 6 weeks as a Product Operations intern. Although I had previously coded in Java, HTML/Javascript, and Python, this was still my first internship at a company. Coming in, I was excited but a bit uncertain thinking that I would not be able to fully understand the core technology (Q System) or how the app’s actions are created. But even amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, I learned a tremendous amount about not only on boarding and debugging actions, but how startups work; the drive from each of the employees was admirable and really stood out to me. As the internship progressed, I felt like a part of the team. Phillip, Mark, and Steven did a great job making me feel welcome and explaining the Q Tools program, Q App, and on boarding procedures. 

As I played around with the app, I realized how cool the capabilities were. During the iOS stage of my internship, I verified and debugged numerous iOS Q App actions and contributed to the latest release of the iOS Q Actions app. From there, I researched new actions to on board for Android, focusing on relevant information and new apps. As a result, I proposed actions that would display COVID-19 information in Facebook and open Messenger Rooms. Through this process, I learned how to implement Voice Talkback too for the Facebook COVID-19 info action, using Android Device Monitor and Q Tools. The unique actions I finally on boarded included:

  • “show me coronavirus info” >> talks back first 3 headlines in COVID-19 Info Center Pane on Facebook 
  • “open messenger rooms” >> creates and opens a Messenger Room

Covid Information

Users don’t have to say an exact phrase in order for the app to execute the correct action; the smart AI-based intent matching system will only run the relevant actions from Facebook or Messenger based on the user’s query.  The user does not even have to mention the app by name – the system picks the right app automatically.

When these actions finally got implemented, it felt rewarding to see my work easily accessible on smartphones; thereafter, I told my friends and family about the amazing Q Actions app so they could see my work. Throughout my Aiqudo internship, the team was incredibly easy to talk to and they always encouraged questions. It showed me the real-life applications of software engineering and AI, which I hadn’t been exposed to before, and the importance of collaboration and perseverance, especially when I was debugging pesky actions for iOS. This opportunity taught me in a hands-on way the business and technical skills needed for a startup like Aiqudo to be nimble and successful, which I greatly appreciated. Overall, my time at Aiqudo was incredibly memorable and I hope to be back soon.

Thank you Phillip, Mark, Steven, Rajat and the rest of the Aiqudo team for giving me this valuable experience this summer! 

Bark to Action

Bark to Action

By Conversation, Startup Culture No Comments

Mike and his Corgi

“It’s a dog’s life!” – Aiqudo work from home #4

Every Friday afternoon, during this lockdown, the Silicon Valley Team gets together for “Social Hour”. We can only assume that the Belfast team is more focused on Irish Whiskey and Guinness on Friday evenings!

Online meetings are not a new thing for Aiqudo. We’ve been doing this twice a week for our entire global team since Belfast came on board in mid-2017!! We’re experts at effective virtual meetings.

And … unlike other startups that just place cute photos of their dogs on Teams’ pages on their websites, our dogs actually participate and provide their opinions during our meetings. Their barks have bite!!

Happy Friday!
#BarkToAction

Internships: The New Normal

By Natural Language, Startup Culture No Comments

Kenny Kang

Intern Voice: Kenny Kang

Working at a startup can be described as, interesting, but in the best way possible. As a comparison, my summer roommate interned for a larger corporate company and we developed two completely different ideas of a what a ‘normal’ working environment is. Apparently, it isn’t ‘normal’ for an internship project to become a feature in the company’s main product. It also isn’t ‘normal’ to have the opportunity of presenting directly to C suite executives. And it definitely isn’t ‘normal’ to be talking to your CEO about his wild college days during company outings. I could write entire essays about all the reasons I loved working at Aiqudo, but there was one that always made my friends question my sanity: I kept describing the work itself as ‘fun!’. Even for a startup, I’m not sure how normal that is.

During my internship, I created a question answering service which dealt with knowledge-based queries. For example, questions like “How old is Tom Brady?” or “Which movies were Lawrence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves in together?”. While the problem itself was interesting, it was the freedom I had that made it really engaging. Since there isn’t always a straightforward solution when dealing with Natural Language Processing (NLP) problems, I needed to constantly approach the next obstacle in new ways, such as using certain tools in unconventional ways or reading up on the latest research. Each new day felt like solving a new puzzle, and that’s what made it consistently so enjoyable! Of course, I ran into plenty of issues that seemed impossible to get around, but luckily, I had an amazing mentor, Sunil, who was always there to point me in the right direction.

This past summer has been an incredible experience. I came in thinking I would leave with a few new skills. Not only have I learned several valuable skills, I’ve also developed a newfound confidence in my ability to think through complex problems, and set a higher bar for any company I’d want to work for in the future.

QTime: My Time as an Aiqudo Intern

By Startup Culture No Comments

Jordan Knox

Intern Voice: Jordan Knox

When I started my internship at Aiqudo, I had next to no experience doing any of the things I was here to do. I came in to Aiqudo very scared that I was completely unqualified and that I would immediately make a fool of myself and get fired. But it was so much better than I had expected. As soon as I got here, I immediately felt welcome and like I was one of the team. I loved every bit of time I got to work here, and I’m so sad for it to end. While I was here, I learned more than I have throughout all of college so far. I learned an entirely new programming language and now feel more comfortable using that language than any of the others that I had been using for years! While I was here, I created a suite of useful Slack actions that went into production. 

We’ll write in more detail about Voice in Slack, but here are some examples of what’s now possible to do super-easily in Slack with simple voice commands:

  • “send a message to John”
  • “send a poll to the General channel asking what’s for lunch today”
  • “post a gif about bananas”

I don’t think I know anybody else who had a summer internship that led to them writing programs that actually went into production. Unlike all of them, I now have something that I can pull up on anybody’s phone and say “Hey look, I made that!” 

I got a ton of experience working with both backend stuff like RESTful APIs and data manipulation, but then I also got to do a lot with the frontend working with HTML/CSS and user interaction with computing systems. I learned more than just technical skills, like how startups function and how to work with over 15 people on a single project. All in all, this internship has been invaluable to me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. This opportunity has not only made me a better software engineer, but also made me a million times more confident in myself and my abilities. The people here are some of the best people that I have ever met and I cannot wait to start working here again part-time during the school year.

Interning at Aiqudo: A Summer Well Spent

By Startup Culture No Comments

Dylan Hwang

Intern Voice: Dylan Hwang

As I was walking to the office of Aiqudo for the first time, I was not sure what to expect. A startup would surely provide more opportunities for me to grow and learn as a student. But a small and fast-paced environment could also result in a higher degree of disorganization, leading to aimless wandering, not sure of what to do next and where. However, this all changed as soon as I was greeted by my colleagues and mentors. They were friendly and warm heartedly opened themselves up to accepting me as part of the Aiqudo family.

Each week flew by as I learned to apply the plethora of knowledge that I have gained in a classroom setting to the industry. Whether it was applying the theory of databases to real-world use, or learning how to “google,” these experiences have all helped me learn more about the connection of school education to industry.

In an internship, one very important aspect is the mentor. Whether or not the mentor has a plan greatly influences the efficacy and productivity of an internship. The mentorship that Sunil, my mentor, provided was invaluable. In the startup environment, everything is very fast-paced and everyone always has a task at hand. Sunil was no exception. But despite all the work that he had, he didn’t just agree to help guide me, he had a desire to. He made time to guide me through the backend structure and answer any questions that I had. If I ever had questions about a specific topic, I would not be scared or worried to ask him. This was not something that was specific to just Sunil. All my other colleagues were very open and caring. They checked up on me and frequently made sure that I didn’t have any other questions that they could answer. They genuinely wanted for me to have a good time at Aiqudo and to learn as much as I could.

Another aspect of my internship that stood out was the freedom I had. Working at Aiqudo, I was given the freedom to work on a variety of different topics. If there was ever anything specific I wanted to work on, whether that was the backend data storage or a pipeline, I knew that I could ask and Sunil would find something that would fit what I wanted to do. This allowed great freedom to not only work in the backend, but also to design machine learning models in areas to further optimize the architectural pipelines.

From this internship, I have learned much more than I could have imagined. I was able to dabble with every aspect of a company.  Whether that was the backend, frontend, or even the business aspect of a startup, the ability to truly get a taste of everything is one that is hard to come by.