Does your intern save your customers 1.5 million gigabytes of data a day? Well?
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
Oh c’mon, we all know that interns don’t really do all that much, right?
We employ them to do the kind of work that no one else in the office wants to do: They file, make copies, update spreadsheets, pick up lunch. In turn, they get work experience and something to put on their resume. For many of my clients an internship is nothing more than a three-month test to see if the kid has the potential to work full time at their company. More realistically, it’s also a test by the intern to see if the company is the right place for them. It’s a very competitive labor environment out there.
But once in a while there’s a story of an intern who’s actually, really, legitimately doing something valuable. That’s Anamaria Cotîrlea.
Cotîrlea is an intern at Google’s London office. According to a recent company blog, during her previous internship last summer she saved Google’s users 1.5 petabytes of data every single day. A petabyte is not something you feed to your dog when he obeys a command. A petabyte is 1.5 million gigabytes.
That’s right. While your intern was at the paper shredder all summer talking about “The Batchelor” and making happy hour plans, this young Romanian woman, who studied in the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics at Babeș-Bolyai University, actually saved the company’s customers 1.5 million gigabytes of data…every day.
How? Google introduced a new approach to reduce the size of its application updates. It’s a compression algorithm called Brotli, and let’s just admit we won’t understand anything about how it works. But super-intern Cotîrlea does. During her internship, she evaluated Brotli’s performance on Google’s app library and helped to make the continuous changes necessary to the company’s servers and Google’s Play Store app to deploy it correctly. Let’s see your intern do that. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
“Not only is this great news for our Android users,” Google’s blog boasted, “But it is also a terrific example of the real-life problems that Google interns are helping to solve, as well as the impact a Google intern can have in just a few short months.”
Interns can make an impact. I admit that most of us aren’t creating complex algorithms for them to support. But maybe if we just challenged them a little more?