About Asia-Pacific Internships: A Springboard for Success

With such easy access to invaluable resources, interns often find their time at Microsoft Research Asia is like a springboard to success. One Microsoft Research Asia intern, Donggun Kim, a Yonsei University physics and mathematics major, developed a project during his internship that received the Best Demo award of MobiSys ’08. Yasuyuki Matsushita, a Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo, was a Visual Computing intern who later joined Microsoft Research Asia and is a successful mentor who works closely with his college advisor. Interns find that the internship broadens their horizons and helps them start on their paths towards prominent careers. Our research benefits from the interns’ contributions as well—who often co-author recognized publications.

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Ashnil Kumar, University of Sydney, Australia
Intern of Media Computing Group, 2010

Ashnil KumarUnforgettable Memories of Microsoft Research Asia
Ashnil Kumar learned about Microsoft Research Asia’s internship program while working on a Ph.D. at the University of Sydney’s Biomedical and Multimedia Information Technology Research Group. Kumar participated on a team that helped establish a tele-medicine and medical-IT demonstration lab at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and he is engaged in ongoing research with Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

“I heard about the intern program when I was awarded the Microsoft Research Asia fellowship,” Kumar says. “The opportunity to work with the eHealth team was just too good to pass up.”

Kumar has been working with mentor and senior researcher Wenwu Zhu. Their research focuses on the automatic analysis of e-health records, with the goal of mapping health records to body parts based on the medical conditions described, enabling health conditions to be monitored and visualized by the body regions affected.

Working with researchers at the top of their field has been a highlight of Kumar’s time in Beijing. What has made his experience really special, however, has been his interaction with these elite researchers. “They are always willing to discuss the finer aspects of the work.” Kumar says. “They treat me like a fully accredited researcher. I always feel that my opinions and comments are valued, and they have supported my choices for the research problems I wanted to solve.”

Howard Han, Tsinghua University, China
Intern of Search Technology Center, 2009

Howard HanDream, Share, Eat
Before coming to Microsoft, I had interned and worked at several different companies; however, none was as inspiring and as delicious as Microsoft.

I started my internship in the Search Technology Center as a product planner. At the beginning, I spent some weeks familiarizing myself with search-related market information. During my internship with STCA senior product planner Helen Wu, she taught me how to be a product planner, but more importantly, she has shown me how to be a good coach. She offered up a buffet of market data and the more data and insights I reviewed, the more interested and hungry for information I became.

I started cooking up ideas related to search: a space/time presentation of information, a new event calendar, a more useful way to use social network services, and a living map. One of the best parts of cooking up ideas is to share them with people, but I didn’t know who to share them with. One day while lunching with Jill Shih, a senior lead program manager, we started chatting about the differences in user design and behavior between Chinese and American websites, and I shared my ideas with her. I was moved by her willingness to listen and her genuine response. Good food always tastes better when shared with others and I am fortunate to be working at a place that keeps me hungry, cooking, sharing, and eating all the time. Hopefully, this experience will allow me to be a great chef!

Wookhyun Shin, Information and Communications University, Korea
Intern of Nature Language Computing, 2009

Wookhyun ShinTurning My Ideas into Reality at Microsoft Research Asia
This was my first internship experience, and my first time to live in China. I worried about my life in China before I left home, but I found that Microsoft Research Asia has more than enough support for international students.

I worked in the Natural Language Computing group on the QuickView project. Quick View is a new concept, really a new paradigm in summarized search. My mentor, Prof. Ming Zhou, helped me a lot. The most important thing I learned is the value of communication and its role in the style of research that is used at Microsoft Research Asia.

At Microsoft Research Asia, the project day included a lively meeting for about 30 minutes during which we discussed what we had planned, difficulties encountered in the current work, and what we wanted to accomplish the next day. The daily meeting offered a good chance to communicate and get familiar with teammates. After a while, I learned how to summarize my ideas better and to understand research in a success-driven environment.

The team members I worked with were very kind and close to each other. We had lunch together and traveled around Beijing together. My roommate and I were in the same group. We shared our research background and our life experiences. We traveled to different areas of Beijing, including Wangfujing, Forbidden City, Tiananmen, and more. I was fortunate to have a Chinese roommate in my group and I am grateful to Shujie Liu for sharing that time with me.

I still remember every minute at Microsoft Research Asia. It was great time and a turning point for my research. I really want to thank Zhou Ming, Long Jiang, Xiaohua Liu, my QuickView teammates, and Shujie Liu for treating me so well during my time in China.

Yusuke Sugano, University of Tokyo, Japan
Intern of Visual Computing Group, 2008

Yusuke SuganoInternships Opening the Door to the Future
Yusuke Sugano's enthusiasm for technology inspired him to earn a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Tokyo earlier this year, but his internships with Microsoft Research Asia were what fostered his passion for the value of collaborative relationships.

In March 2008, Sugano successfully completed an internship in Beijing. He then was accepted into the Microsoft Research Worldwide Internship Program, and in April 2010, he arrived at Microsoft corporate headquarters in Redmond to work on a computer-vision project. While Sugano confirms that his technical knowledge benefited from both experiences, he says the more important lessons he has learned came from the collegial relationships he enjoyed at Microsoft Research.

For his internship in the United States, Sugano was mentored by Zhengyou Zhang, principal researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond. Zhang, and other peers, showed genuine interest in Sugano that he believes has enhanced his technical development and been of great benefit to his career path. "I interact with professional researchers on a daily basis, and the interactions are very frank, honest, and productive," Sugano says. "The people I've met during both internships have set very high goals for their careers. As a result of meeting, working with, and learning from so many highly motivated people, I have become more motivated."

Sugano plans to implement the knowledge he has acquired during his internships when he returns to Japan. There, he will embark on as many as four years of postdoctoral research that he hopes will provide contributions to the evolution of computer-vision technology. He says he is well-prepared for a research career as a result of his Microsoft Research internships. "Before I went to Microsoft Research Asia," Sugano says, "I didn't think about going abroad, but as a result of my experience in China and the U.S., I have a very positive outlook on working overseas."