Adobe Research interns hone their communication and coding skills in a summer of learning

October 17, 2022

Tags: Internships

When researchers communicate well, they’re able to collaborate and share the importance of their work — and good communication is a critical skill for landing a job after school, too. That’s why the folks behind the Adobe internship program designed a series of communications workshops and a Code Quality Jam this summer. “PhD students don’t usually get formal training on how to communicate about their research, but it’s a must-have skill,” says Adobe Research Scientist and workshop organizer Zoya Bylinskii.

Adobe experts share their strategies for powerful communication

This summer, some of Adobe’s top researchers and designers presented a series of workshops to help interns develop their professional communication skills. The first session, “Even a Geek Can Speak,” (based on a similarly-titled book) was developed and presented by Senior Research Scientist Justin Salamon. It’s been an intern favorite since it debuted at Adobe three years ago. “

Becoming a good presenter takes practice. No one starts off giving great presentations,” says Salamon. “In my seminar we go over how to plan, design, and deliver your presentation. It requires time and dedication, and it’s totally worth it because how we present our work has a direct effect on the impact our work has.”

A second workshop focused on writing great papers. Led by six senior researchers across fields — several of whom have been editors as well — the session offered tips on writing and getting published. Mira Dontcheva, Principal Scientist, Research Manager, and one of this year’s presenters hopes that participants learned that it takes a lot of iteration to write a good paper, and it’s always best to start writing early. “My advisors helped me learn how to communicate when I was a grad student, so I feel it’s my job to do the same for students today,” Dontcheva explains.

Brenda Weitzer, Manager of User Experience Research, had her team lead a workshop on the value of user research and the importance of collaboration between researchers in computer science and UX. Then the series wrapped up with a session by Principal Designer Bernard Kerr on creating impactful figures and visualizations to communicate research findings.

Intern David Chuan-En Lin says he got a lot out of this summer’s sessions. “I liked the information sharing during the presentations on writing papers, giving presentations, and making diagrams,” he explained. “There was a good mix of knowledge about how you present, and different researchers shared different perspectives, which is great because you can see how people have varied techniques.”

Intern Carlos Taveras said that the sessions helped shape the way he thinks about his work: “You could be the best researcher in the world, but if you can’t talk about your research in many ways, and communicate with people who are removed from what you do, then it takes away from the importance of your work. In the talks, you learn how to make communication a central part of our research so that every step of the way you’re thinking about putting research into context, and how to communicate it with others.”

Code Quality Jam participants take their coding skills up a level

Interns also had a chance to participate in the annual Code Quality Jam — another learning experience designed to sharpen interns’ professional skills and deepen their collaboration and communication experience.

This year’s Jam was organized by Research Scientist Christine Dierk, Senior Research Engineer Jeremie Dumas, and Research Engineer Rebecca Li — along with help from lots of volunteers. During the event, 26 teams made up of 75 interns took in bite-sized video tutorials created by 19 fulltime Adobe Research scientists and engineers. The tutorials covered lots of ways to boost code quality across programming languages, including Python, C++, and Java.

From there, teams got to choose from a set of fun features and work together to create them. The event also included a trivia game and Easter egg hunt in the Adobe Jam Farm, a virtual meeting place.

Teams were rewarded for writing great code and overall winners were recognized as Code Quality Champions.

“I had a great time at the Code Quality Jam!” said Intern Ana Cardenas Gasca. “There is something special about building something together, and the nice thing about a hackathon is that you get to know the other people you work with, but you also have a safe space to fail, ask questions, and leave worries about long-term projects.”

Gasca added, “One of the most important things I learned during my internship is that researchers in the industry need to connect their work to the company’s products and users. A huge component of this is being able to produce code that can be understood and replicated by others and being able to work in teams. The Code Quality Jam covered this very well.”

Interested in an Adobe summer internship full of research possibilities and learning opportunities? Learn more and apply here.

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