An American in Germany: Interning at SAP’s Walldorf HQ
This summer, I spent three months as a Data Science / Machine Learning Intern with the Exponential Analytics team in SAP’s Walldorf headquarters. After I return back to the states, I will be completing my studies in Statistics at UCLA.
This was an interesting decision for me. I have only been to other countries for vacation. This is my first time in a new country for work. However, after a few days on the job, it was clear that SAP embraces an international work culture, with Walldorf serving as a hub for many people from many different countries.
There are definitely significant differences between interning in the United States vs. Germany, but most of them are actually outside of the office. The challenges of shifting gears and coming to a completely different country (along with getting to explore a little bit of Germany, Luxembourg, and France) proved to be quite the unique experience.
Within the office, and intrinsic to the field of data science, was a new challenge every single day. I was fortunate to have colleagues who were trusting and brought me onboard several of their projects. Many times, they were working with concepts, tools, or frameworks I was not familiar with, but being a quick learner is part of the role. Here are a few points that I’ll definitely take back home with me:
- Doing what you know first: Outlining project plans, writing pseudocode, or just writing down goals has been so helpful. It’s easy to translate logic to syntax, but it’s incredibly difficult to translate a vague idea to syntax.
- Efficiency is key: When the datasets are this big, just creating something that works is no longer good enough. It needs to be fast. I quickly learned efficiency is just as important as reaching the end goal.
- Becoming good at telling stories: Good data visualization is key. It also saves unnecessarily long emails. There’s no need to send several paragraphs of text when you can convey the exact same message, or a better one, with one image. And at the end of the day, data science is no good if nobody else can understand what you are doing.
It has been a summer of personal development and lots of learning both in and out of the office. Interning at SAP Walldorf was a well balanced and very unique experience I feel truly lucky to have.