More Than an Internship: Adobe Research Interns Develop Deep Engagements

October 20, 2021

By Meredith Alexander Kunz

Every year, several hundred interns—mostly PhD candidates—join Adobe Research worldwide. They come in search of an ideal mix of academic and industry-focused research and a chance to develop deep engagements that can extend far beyond a standard three-month intern job.

That’s because at Adobe Research, some internships plant the seeds of long-term relationships. The engagement between interns and research mentors can yield extraordinary things as they evolve into extended or return internships, multiyear project collaborations, and partnership on PhD work. Their work together results in highly tangible benefits, including contributions towards patents, papers, dissertations, and features for Adobe products.

“My internships at Adobe Research helped me in many different ways,” says Amir Pouran Ben Veyseh, a three-time research intern focused on Natural Language Processing (NLP). “Most of the projects I worked on during my internships were aligned with my proposed thesis, and their findings could be used in my dissertation,” he explains. He highlights the “productive relationship with Adobe” that he and his faculty advisor shared, which helped them advance their research across several dimensions. Working with “a prestigious research group that gathers so many talents from top universities was helpful for me to directly exchange ideas and expand my connections,” he adds.

To apply for a 2022 internship at Adobe Research, please visit our Internships page.

Publications and patents – by interns

Adobe Research interns collaborate with their mentors on research publications for prestigious conferences and journals. In 2020, around 90 percent of Adobe research papers were co-authored with non-Adobe researchers, most of whom were interns. Some of these research projects lead to patent filings as well. In 2020, 62 percent of Adobe Research patent filings had an intern listed as an inventor.

Intern Amir Pouran Ben Veyseh is a perfect example. His publishing productivity as an intern has been astounding: Teaming up with his internship mentor Research Scientist Franck Dernoncourt and his PhD advisor, he and his co-authors published 13 peer-reviewed research papers at top-tier NLP conferences, with several more under review. That work includes an award-winning paper at EACL 2021.

“While I was allowed to follow my own research ambitions, the Adobe Research internship program helped me to find the best direction, one that could result in the most achievements,” Pouran Ben Veyseh says. In addition to publications and filing for patents, he and his mentors also organized three conference workshops and created several shared tasks to challenge researchers in their areas.

Long-term working relationships between interns and researchers can advance the number and quality of publications and technology innovations for everyone involved. “There are benefits all around,” says mentor Dernoncourt.

“Publishing is good for the intern’s graduate student career and future job search, and the internship provides experience in industry. For Adobe, we benefit from the intern’s very strong expertise in specific research areas, and we can align that to have a future impact on our products,” he explains. Now, with the added papers generated by this relationship and others like it, Adobe has become a key leader in NLP.

Ambitious research projects

Some projects at Adobe Research are simply too ambitious to fit into a single summer. If they continue their engagement, interns and mentors can take those projects on—another benefit of being able to continue working together past the end date of a typical internship.

Intern Shuqi Dai returned for her second internship in 2021, working in the field of music generation with mentor Research Scientist Zeyu Jin. Their long-term research effort has resulted from a project that was too expansive for one internship. They’ve already published a paper and are now building a system using state-of-the-art deep learning techniques. Dai was also mentored by Lead Research Designer Celso Gomes.

“We wanted to tackle both the research problem and the real-world applications,” Dai says. “On the research side, we knew it could not be solved in three months, so we decided to continue our collaboration after my first internship was finished.”

Later on, the team decided that they wanted to “go deeper” and create a new prototype. Dai decided to come back for her second internship. In the process, she reports, “I got first-hand experience working on deep learning, how to use models and find insights.” Dai is using that knowledge both for her Adobe Research project and for her graduate work.

Her work at Adobe extended to learning from product-side staff and user experience experts. She hopes that her project could eventually be incorporated into an Adobe product, another long-term effort.

From internships to PhD advancement

Many Adobe Research interns have found that their internship work and collaboration directly contributed to their PhD work.

For former intern and full-time researcher Zeyu Jin, his three internships proved valuable to his doctoral work. His Adobe mentor, Senior Principal Scientist Gautham Mysore, served as an external advisor for his PhD thesis. “I learned so much from this collaboration,” Jin recalls.

For intern Ping Hu, the internships that he did at Adobe Research over two summers shaped his PhD research in image and video processing in multiple ways. “My internships benefitted my PhD research by helping me to define the problem,” Hu says. Learning about Adobe’s products and his mentors’ work on creating improvements helped him to identify “where the pain-points are in real-world applications,” information that will inform his dissertation. He adds that his internship “broadened my knowledge.”

Upleveling research skills

Intern mentors at Adobe Research do much more than assign an intern to work on a problem. Mentors actively share knowledge with their interns, helping them uplevel their research know-how in a variety of ways. This translates into a better internship as well as an improved skillset as interns return to school and continue to work on their graduate studies.

Intern Beleicia Bullock gained valuable insights into conducting and sharing research during her internship with Adobe Research this summer. After years of intern positions in software development, she was ready to explore research work. She investigated data visualizations and, along the way, focused on growing research skills before beginning a PhD program at Stanford University in fall 2021. Working closely with mentor Research Scientist Jane Hoffswell made a difference.

“My research internship exceeded my expectations,” says Bullock. “My mentor helped me go from ‘good’ to ‘great,’ for example when writing an abstract, or protecting the privacy of user study participants.”

Mentors also reap the rewards of these growing skills as they partner on projects with interns, who bring fresh approaches to their research. “The main benefit of having an intern is collaboration with someone with a different perspective on that research,” says mentor Hoffswell. She partnered with Bullock and co-authors to produce a paper on personalized visualization, which they have now submitted to a major conference.

“Beleicia and I had a lot of thoughtful and lively back-and-forth conversations about the nature of our research and the most important research directions we wanted to explore,” she explains. “I think we have learned a lot, which will lead to a strong publication.”

Deep engagements are at the heart of Adobe Research internships, fueling both the intern’s and the mentor’s work. To join us on this journey, apply for a 2022 internship with our team.

Adobe Research is accepting applications for research internships for the spring, summer, and fall of 2022. To learn more, please visit our Internships page.

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