I’m a bit late to write this point, but I’ll still try to recount my experience from July to September.
This summer at work was especially fun since interns join in the summer and they bring new energy. I hosted a few interns, Mirac and Shayne, for the first time, and it was a new learning experience for me to not only help them accomplish their goals but also to balance that with respect to my own research interests. Ruibo also joined Google and it was fun to hang out with him around the office.
I’m glad I found new collaborators who I enjoy working with, especially Yi, Le, and Hyung Won, who share a lot of the same interests as me and work just as hard. Finding such people to work with I think will help me prevent burnout and continue finding the motivation and environment to produce great work. We all worked pretty hard to get the Flan paper to come out, and I’m proud of what we put together.
The biggest career lesson for me in the past few months was to learn from Yi, Ed, and Quoc about strategic awareness. What I mean by that is to know your own goals and incentives within the context of the broader Google organization. For instance, how does your project align with long-term goals that leadership has? What is the history and context for why a particular decision was made? I learned about the importance of considering these factors when choosing a project to work on that will not only have big impact but also garner the support of leadership. (And actually, Ellie told me the importance of garnering support for your work a while ago, but only now do I actually understand what she meant!)
Singapore is probably one of my favorite places that I’ve traveled to, due to the rich culture and great food. Here is an excerpt that I wrote while I was there:
I am writing this excerpt from the rooftop lounge. If MBS is not a flex of humanity I don’t know what is. It is at the boundaries of pleasure and luxury that I have experienced. The towers are grand, and the design—a boat on top with the infinity pool—is inspired. An experience like this motivates me to reach the edges of my career so that I can have the financial capacity for more such experiences, and to join the part of civilization that frequents those places.
Hawker centers are unpretentious. They activate the neurons in my brain that remind me that I am of Asian heritage. There is no pressure to act a certain way and no one is looking at you.
In addition, it was great to meet Yi. He and I have a lot of the similar thoughts on research: how to make the most of research, how to frame papers, etc.
Oh, and [here] is some video footage of my time in Singapore:
Left, with Yi at La Pau Sat; middle, Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool; right, with Yi at Chijmes.
I don’t remember anything specific that I did for fun, though I had a couple of nice dinners, for my birthday, with Xiaoying, and with Ruibo and Yiren.
Left, with Ruibo, Yiren, and Zheer; right, with my brother on my birthday.
Overall, I think a grew a lot this term in terms of work. In particular, I think I’ve taken on a more complex view of AI research world than before and will try to be more intentional about what I put out into the world.