Intern Series: My Experience as the Intern at AppNexus

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What’s AppNexus? What’s Real-Time Bidding (RTB)? What’s up with all the orange and black? These were among the many questions I had when I first came across AppNexus.

This past summer, I was the software engineering intern at AppNexus. I landed the role thanks to a program called the NYC Turing Fellowship Program, which aims at matching students in North America with leading startups in NYC. Before this program, I never even heard of AppNexus or ever thought I would be working for such an advertising company. Looking back, I realize I have no regrets in choosing this path. AppNexus never failed to amaze me, so allow me to tell you why.

I was impressed by the culture from the very beginning. I remember my first day. I walked into the foyer where I was greeted nicely and quickly guided to my manager. Everywhere I looked, I would see the welcoming faces of the many AppNexus employees, also known as AppNexians. They were busy in the very well organized and clean office that gave off an eerie feeling of seriousness. However, when I came across items such as nerf guns and stuffed animals, I received the unexpected thought that AppNexus might also be a fun place to work. It was clear to me that the people behind AppNexus have both interesting personalities and productive work habits. That’s a great combination to have.

Something else that really impressed me was how much the company encouraged learning. There is something known as “tech talk” every week where experts, usually from various areas of AppNexus engineering, give a talk educating the rest of AppNexus. I also had the opportunity to give one on my work. AppNexus also has something known as “razzle dazzle” every week where everyone is updated on various things relating to AppNexus and advertising in general. In addition to encouraging learning through events internally, AppNexus also encourages learning outside. For example, I was given tickets to a JavaScript conference several weeks back. These things bolster my belief that the company sees the bigger picture where in order for it to succeed, the people behind it have to succeed.

Speaking of succeeding, I vehemently believe my internship was a success. During the first half of the summer, I was working closely with the API team on building a system that would go through the API and automatically generate specifications on the many services. I then built a wrapper that turns the specifications into complete downloadable documentation packages. This project was important to AppNexus because many of their clients relied on the API to manage campaigns and other pieces of the system. During the other half of the summer, I worked with the UI team on rebuilding the system that is used to manage all the AppNexus servers. I helped set up the foundation of this new project and put together various aspects that are sure to amaze. It’s clear why this project is important to AppNexus, as AppNexus is a company that has been growing incredibly fast. While working on these projects, I never felt that AppNexus was treating me like an intern. I had lot of responsibilities and was expected to contribute to the flat organization like anyone else. I was put through meetings every day and was expected to have agendas. It was obvious to me that AppNexus was serious in making my internship worthwhile.

AppNexus challenged me throughout the summer, and as someone who likes challenges, I really appreciated it. Since interning at AppNexus, I honed my skills in many areas, from programming to socializing. I even learned a few things along the way that I did not expect to learn such as who Rodney Dangerfield was or why you should date older people. All things considered, I can say without any reservations that I really enjoyed my internship this past summer. And in a couple of future posts, I will share more about what I worked on.

About Aktarer

Aktarer was the software engineering intern during the summer of 2011. He is often referred to as the "best intern of the year."

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