Life at Goodnotes

Behind the Scenes: Being a Software Engineer Intern

August 23, 2023

This summer, we launched our first-ever internship program at our Goodnotes Hong Kong office. The program was designed to give our interns the opportunity to work on real-life problems and gain hands-on experience in their respective areas of study and interest. During their time with us, they are paired with mentors in their field who provide guidance, support, and advice throughout their journey. They also get to work on a pet project of their own choice, allowing them to dive even deeper into topics they are passionate about.

We sat down with Anna, one of our current software engineering interns, to hear more about how she’s found it working with Goodnotes this summer.

Hi Anna! We can’t wait to hear more about your experience with Goodnotes this summer. First thing’s first, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you’re studying?

My name is Anna Zhang, and I’m originally from the Bay Area in California! I’m a rising senior at Yale University studying computer science. The reason that I chose to study computer science in college is because I love making things and being able to develop user products. I think the most powerful aspect of programming is the extent of the applications it can have. Regardless of what industry or cause you care about, there is no doubt some way that computer science can help.

What made you want join Goodnotes as an intern?

As someone who uses Goodnotes every single day, I was so excited to learn about this internship opportunity! Since education is something that I am also quite passionate about, I thought this internship was the perfect way to apply my technical skills. From volunteering to teach coding in Connecticut middle schools to creating ecology curriculum in Montana, I’ve worked in a wide range of educational areas and positions. In fact, in my TA position at school for one of our intro CS classes, I even use Goodnotes to draw demonstrations and examples to my students. I think edtech is an incredible field, and I’m simply excited that I get to contribute to making this product better. Not to mention that I get to work on features I will one day use and see in the app too!

What have you been working on during your time here?

I joined Goodnotes with the Full Page Typing iOS team and jumped in helping to develop some exciting AI typing features! We are using AI to improve the typing experience and there are lots of exciting updates and developments you can see in Goodnotes 6 :) I lead the prompt engineering research to decide which prompts would give us the best results from the AI typing service. I also created the paywall to showcase what features we added in and what users can expect to see from this new addition.

As my pet project, I’ve been working a mystery highly-requested feature, with the support of my team members. Implementing this feature required a deep dive into the Goodnotes codebase, and it has been no small task to modify such a substantial part of the application. As the spearhead of this project, I’ve faced various technical challenges and design considerations. Ensuring that the implementation seamlessly integrates with the existing note-taking features while maintaining the application's performance and user-friendliness has been an intricate balancing act. I've also had to collaborate with our designers to discuss how we can truly integrate this feature into the current app and align with the user experience that our users are expecting.

What have you learned while working with Goodnotes that you think will be relevant experience for your future as a software engineer?

Before joining Goodnotes, I had really minimal experience in Swift, but my mentor James Tang helped me quickly ramp up on my work and learn about iOS development. Moreover, there is a strong emphasis on code quality and with every PR I create, I get a bunch of helpful feedback to improve my code. I think this experience will forever help me improve my code quality in future work to ensure it is as readable, efficient and sustainable as possible. I’ve learned how to best consider how your code might be used in the future and how to create components and systems that are easily adaptable to new changes from the engineers in the future who might iterate on your work.

I also worked a bit on prompt engineering and AI development, which I think helped expand upon the AI knowledge I learned in school to expand into a more practical realm. In fact, every week, we have an “AI Binge Watch Club” where we watch lectures and videos every week on a new subject over lunch. Through these lunches, I’ve been able to have fruitful discussions on AI development and ethical considerations.

This internship project has offered me an exceptional learning opportunity. It's not only enhanced my technical skills but also provided valuable experience in project management, communication, and problem-solving.

What’s been your favorite part of your internship at Goodnotes?

My favorite part of my internship at Goodnotes has been the incredible mentorship I've received within the company, coupled with the opportunity to learn from our brilliant and talented engineers. From day one, I was fortunate to have experienced individuals guiding me through the ins and outs of the company's projects and technologies. The mentorship culture at Goodnotes is truly exceptional, and I'm grateful for the invaluable insights and knowledge they have shared with me during this journey.

In addition to the professional growth, another highlight of my internship has been the chance to forge meaningful connections and make great friends among the fellow interns. The internship program at Goodnotes fosters a friendly atmosphere, where we could share our experiences and support one another. We spend our days working together and chatting over lunch but spend our weekends and nights together exploring the wonderful city of Hong Kong! The camaraderie among the interns has made the entire experience even more enjoyable and fulfilling.

We know there is a gender gap when it comes to studying computer science. As a woman in this field, what are some advise you’d give women who may be considering entering the CS world?

To all the incredible women in STEM, I want to remind you of the immense impact you have the power to create. The tech field thrives on diversity and innovation, and your unique perspectives and ideas are invaluable in shaping the future of education. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and remember that your contributions can revolutionize how we learn and teach. By continuing to pursue your dreams in the ed tech realm, you are not just advancing your own career but also enriching the lives of countless learners worldwide.

In my experience it can be difficult to feel confident when you are the only woman in the room, but your voice is actually 10 times as important in those situations and meetings. Diversity empowers us to build great technologies that are useful for more people. Technology requires input from all voices and we can only create great things with the help of a diverse group of engineers!

What are three words you’d use to describe your internship at Goodnotes?

Impactful, dynamic, enriching!

Can you see yourself working at Goodnotes? 

We're hiring! See our open positions here.

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