University Feature

What managers look for in interns

January 22, 2014

Q&A with Adobe’s software development manager

ce405401e589febd41a965b8d8fb81d0[1]At some companies, interns play minor roles. At Adobe, they quickly become a critical part of the team. Many managers are focused on helping interns develop and leave their mark on the company—or even come back as full-time employees after graduation.

We asked managers at Adobe what they look for when identifying the intern candidates who will thrive. In this Q&A, Richard Sinn, a senior software development manager at Adobe, shares his thoughts.

Adobe Life: What’s your role at Adobe?

Richard Sinn: I lead a team of developers who build mobile apps for Android and iOS. So the interns I hire all work on that team.

Adobe Life: What are the most important qualities you look for in the interns you hire?

RS: We look for a few things. We want someone well rounded, but the first thing you need is a good technical background and probably a major in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field. If you’re a junior, we’ll test you on basic programming. If you’re a senior, we might test you on the platforms you’ve studied. We also want to get the sense that you’re willing to learn quickly. After that, everything is about fit. People are really nice at Adobe, and we want interns who will connect well with the team and have some chemistry.

Adobe Life: We hear a lot about the importance of being well rounded. So outside of the technical know-how, what kind of skills are you looking for?

RS: Most people find it surprising, but we want people who can do a lot more than just the technical—even if the technical work is your main job. The business side of things is totally connected to what we do, so you can’t just say, “I love computer science because I want to spend all of my time with a computer in a dark room.” Our interns will talk to their teams every day, and they’ll eventually demo their feature in front of whole team and several product marketing people. So you need to master a little public speaking and technical writing so you can work well with the business side. It’s not enough to be good in programming. Interpersonal communication skills are so important.

Adobe Life: How much contribution can interns really make on your team?

RS: A lot! We just had a student from UC Berkeley who did a lot of Android features that we just shipped. We told him, when he started, that we may give him some core features to work on, so we gave him a test and he did great. He did the programming, worked with users and designers, and ported it into the app store. Within three months, he had created and finished all of the Android features, and his name is on the “about” screen. So that was cool—and it really shows how much an intern can accomplish at Adobe. Not a lot of companies offer that kind of opportunity.

Adobe Life: What do you like about interacting with students on campus?

RS: I love talking to students, partly for the exchange of ideas. Sometimes they’ll say what else they want to see in products, which is great. And their ideas are really fresh and they use our stuff in new ways. It’s really great to hear about that, especially from people who are interested in becoming part of the team.

RichardS-FeatureAbout Richard
Richard has a weekly brain workout by teaching a computer engineering evening class at a local university. In his spare time, he splits his time among various hobbies: Building scale models, teaching others how to build scale models, reading, writing a book or two, photography, ice skating and traveling with his family.

Interested in an internship with Adobe? Visit our university career site.