Graduate student Uttara Kulkarni got two internship offers on the same day; she chose Viasat’s Seattle office for the opportunity to work on cloud technology. The project she’d be working on at Viasat was cutting edge, she said, in contrast to the work described by the other company that offered her an internship.
She and two other interns – the first at one of Viasat’s newest offices – developed a platform to run internal Viasat apps. It dramatically increases both development and deployment speeds.
Viasat opened its Seattle office in October 2017 with an eye toward recruiting cloud computing professionals. The city is ranked the second-best tech market in the nation, and with Amazon and Microsoft both headquartered here, it’s often tagged as the global home for cloud computing.
That was exciting to Kulkarni and fellow interns Keval Khara and Gupreet Chabada. Even more so was the trust and autonomy their Seattle managers gave them throughout the summer.
“It was an ambitious project,” said Khara, a Boston University graduate student studying computer engineering. “(Our manager) gave us complete ownership so we could make our own decisions; that’s something you don’t get at some major companies,” Khara said. “The fact that we were able to do it in 11 weeks was an achievement and was very satisfying.”
All three described their experience in the Emerald City as both a career and social success.
The trio joined the Seattle staff in its current leased space in a co-working facility in historic Pioneer Square. Viasat plans to move to a larger space as the office grows.
Lead cloud engineer Stephan Kemper and software engineer Gabe Albicarys worked closely with the interns throughout the summer, familiarizing them with not only Viasat but the city’s many attractions. Because Viasat’s Seattle office is relatively new and the staff growing, the interns enjoyed a rare, close relationship with all their coworkers.
“The people are really amazing,” Kulkarni said. “Here I could talk to and go to lunch with each and every person – my teammates, my manager. That was a great advantage.” Khara sees it similarly.
“Sharing the same office with your teammates helps a lot when you’re collaborating on similar tasks,” he said. “Working in the same office as Stephan and Gabriel, we could ask questions whenever we wanted.”
The three interns had never met, but all hail from the same state in India and grew up within a three-hour drive from one another. They grew close during the summer. Outside the office, the interns saw as much of the Seattle area as possible – sometimes solo and sometimes with their newfound work friends. Kemper took them hiking in the nearby mountains and to downtown Seattle tech Meetups. The team attended a Seattle Sounders soccer game, and the interns explored parks, beaches and museums.
Kulkarni described their apartments in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood – where Amazon’s campus is located — as amazing.
“It’s my first time to Seattle and I can literally see the Space Needle every day from my apartment,” she said. “I love the commute, the temperature, the climate – everything is really good.”
Chabada, who is completing her master’s degree at the University of Illinois Chicago, said she had always found the Windy City enchanting.
“But now I have a new love; it is Seattle,” she said.
As summer winds down, the three said they plan to stay in touch and all express hope they’ll return to Viasat as fulltime employees.
“Maybe our paths will cross again,” Khara said. “My fingers are crossed.”
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