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Asia-Pacific Internships: Invaluable Mentorship

During their time at Microsoft Research Asia, interns work for a minimum of three months on-site alongside a personally assigned mentor, who provides advice, instruction, and support during the internship. These mentors are Microsoft Research Asia's top researchers, who are matched specifically with each intern by research field and guide interns in developing individual projects.

Yasuyuki Matsushita

Yasuyuki MatsushitaYasuyuki Matsushita, Lead Researcher in the Visual Computing Group Lead Researcher in the Visual Computing Group, he used to be an intern at Microsoft Research Asia and joined after graduation. He has contributed much to Microsoft Research Asia’s internship program and university collaborations.

Choose Microsoft Research Asia as a Start

I interned at Microsoft Research Asia in 2002 when I was a graduate student; I had known Microsoft Research Asia people through their publications before I came to Microsoft Research Asia as an intern. The greatest motivation to me was to work with those talented people, to learn how they conduct research. During the internship, I was impressed by their hard-working attitude as well as individual excellence. I felt that the freedom that Microsoft Research Asia had was just like that of university labs’.

“Excellent research environment: To be with talented people in Microsoft Research Asia”

I learned a lot of things from Microsoft Research Asia during my internship about procedures for research. Talking with talented researchers in Microsoft Research Asia, I was often impressed by their insightful comments, and I learned the way those researchers think. Of course, I learned other things, such as how to write papers, how to make plans, etc. But the biggest experience that I had is, again, to observe how talented people think.

Yasuyuki MatsushitaYasuyuki MatsushitaI thought I could learn more from people in Microsoft Research Asia, and I actually did. This was my major motivation for choosing Microsoft Research Asia as a working place; I also liked the research environment here. Unlike other industrial research labs, Microsoft Research Asia conducts a lot of external research programs. I wished to keep publishing papers, going to conferences to meet with people, and visiting universities. Microsoft Research Asia allows all those things, and that provides me with an excellent research environment.

"Collaborating with my interns and previous mentor"

I had three students from Japan (all from U. Tokyo). One of those students is taken from my PhD advisor, Professor Katsushi Ikeuchi. Professor Ikeuchi and I often meet and make conference calls in order to collaborate. Currently, we have a Visiting Researcher who is a post-doc of Professor Ikeuchi’s lab. We are working together on the VR’s research project, by asking Prof. Ikeuchi to join the meeting via Live Meeting.

When I see intern students from Japan, I am proud to discover that they are pretty good. Typical Japanese students start "real" research activities from the end of their PhD course, but not from master’s course. For example, many students do not try to get published at a top conference when they are master students. This is not because they are not good, but because they are not aware of competition in research. I was shocked when I first saw that many undergraduates and masters degree students in Microsoft Research Asia were trying to publish papers at top conferences. I think doing an internship outside of Japan was beneficial in observing how top students in other countries are working. Microsoft Research Asia is a right place for it.

Tie-yan Liu

Yie-yan LiuYie-yan Liu, Lead Researcher, Web Search and Data Mining Lead Researcher in the Web Search and Data Mining Group, and an experienced leader of the interns in the group, he has contributed much to the internship program.

I Hope You Succeed In Your Career

When I was a freshman in the Web Search and Data Mining Group (WSM), Dr. Weiying Ma, the Research Manager of my group, asked me to take care of the internship management of WSM, such as organizing activities like seminars, project reviews, BestRank Camp, and wine-downs. I have been working on this for about 2 years. It is actually an honor to provide help and guidance for interns. Meanwhile, I have given a very high priority to coaching my own interns participating in high-level academic research. I am always asking myself to be very sincere and serious to each new intern. To help provide the best opportunities to the interns at Microsoft Research Asia, each professor is expecting that their students can achieve further development not only in their research areas, but also in making a successful career. What we are also expecting is to establish long-term collaboration with universities and institutions.

Tie-yan LiuTie-yan LiuAs per my personal experience, I got along with my interns very well and built deep friendships through working together. Some of my interns, such as Tao Qin and Bin Gao who joined Microsoft Research Asia after their graduation, began their internships as early as our research topic about information retrieval was launched. We’re growing together and improving together. I’m a native doctor myself, and because of the limitations of my lab during my PhD study, I was not able to reach top-class research tiers worldwide, and even did not know who the best researcher in the world was in the field I was working in. I wholeheartedly hope my interns can leverage the great platform Microsoft Research Asia provides, and attain better research achievements than me.

My guidance for my interns is really specific from the moment they start their research. For example when they are preparing their first paper for a top-class conference/journal, we will select the topics and discuss them together. I will also help them to solve some of the more detailed questions. Although this is all very thorough, the object is not to perform the research instead of the intern, but to share with them how best to conduct research throughout the entire process. Smart interns can learn how to do research independently in their future studies. By the time of the second/third project, I will not provide as much coaching, but give guidance about their research direction and supervise during key technical problems. The interns can accomplish more even all research paper by themselves. I will never let my interns do their research without using their own creative thoughts. In fact, my interns have very active minds and lots of courage. When we have brainstorming sessions, they always speak so actively, that some colleagues even think that they are “overweening.” I think it is pretty good but I also encourage them not to show too much authority.