From June 3rdto August 16th2019, I worked as a Metrics & Reporting Automation Intern at Autodesk, a leading software company in the Bay Area. Growing up with my dad, an engineer, and my childhood best friend, an industrial design student, who are both avid Autodesk’s products user, I felt very fortunate with the opportunity to intern at a company which is making such great impact on people I love.
Autodesk, Inc was founded in 1982 by John Walker and Dan Drake, two people with an ultimate goal of transforming the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. Although headquartered in San Rafael, CA, Autodesk has offices in other locations such as San Francisco, Montreal, Boston, etc. and even overseas in India, Singapore. The company has more than 10,000 employees worldwide and is known as “The Make Company”: when you want to search something, you rely on Google; when you want to buy something, Amazon is the choice; and when you want to make something, you go to Autodesk.
Many people, including myself, got to know Autodesk because of its flagship product AutoCAD and other offerings within the AEC space. However, it was until researching for my interview with the company that I know about the other key areas that the company competes in: Product Design & Manufacturing, and Media & Entertainment. Overall, the product portfolio at Autodesk is HUGE.
Organization & Department Overview
Autodesk has three main groups/functions: Product Groups, Business Functions and Corporate Functions. My internship falls within Business Strategy & Marketing within Business Functions. Specifically, I’m working under Global Demand Generations in the Global Customer Events team.
During 11 weeks at Autodesk, I take on two projects.
1. Reporting Automation tool:
In this project, I was tasked with the goal of reducing manual workload for event managers and marketers through automating the reporting process for Autodesk University, the company’s annual user conference. Two days into the internship, I got the chance to interview my first stakeholders, and realized that people within the event team spend a lot of time on gathering, analyzing, and distributing registration data. On the other hand, people from the product groups and marketers, who want access to this information to better come up with strategies, have to go through back-and-forth communication with the system admin to get what they want. This results in a waste of approximately 60 working hours per month that can be used for something else.
I first tackled this problem by conducting interviews with different stakeholders to identify critical metrics and KPIs that need to be communicated. Then I used my Python skills to code automation scripts to get data out of our event conference management tool API and ingest this data into Power BI for visualization. The scripts are scheduled to run on a daily basis so that the dashboard stay up-to-date with any additional information. I also conducted user testing to ensure that the metrics presented were of stakeholders’ greatest interests.
Although I had some experience with data analysis and visualization from MIS courses, this was actually my first time pulling real-time data out of an API. Therefore, it took me a great deal of time to model the data to be ready for production. At the same time, dealing with different data types also increased my knowledge of data structures, something that wasn’t part of the MIS curriculum.
2. Conference Room Finding App:
One of the pain points of being a new hire is finding ways to the right conference room: during my first week, I left my desk 15 minutes before each meeting to ensure that I got to the right room on time. Therefore, when I heard about an initiative to develop a conference room finding app, I was so interested that I reached out to the product owner to take part in his team as a side project.
In this project, I played the role of a product manager, defining what features our team should incorporate into the app, as well as how we should implement them. To better understand the pain points that users are facing, I collaborated with the User Researcher to conduct usability testing and further researches. After analyzing the results, we came to the conclusion that one of the top needs for users was navigation, which was only supported by the app in the form of 2d floor maps. I helped came up with a list of features that make navigation better and developed a prioritization matrix to filter and prioritize what to build first. I also worked alongside with our UX Designer to develop high fidelity prototypes and with developers for implementation.
After 2 months working on the project, I was super happy that our alternative navigation solution, a general direction feature, came to live. The feature receives positive user feedback and helped contribute to driving app adoption rate among new hires.
Besides my projects, there are several learning opportunities within Autodesk’s internship program that helped me increase both soft and hard skills.
1. Tech Talks:
Every week since the internship began, us interns had the chance to meet and talk with executives from different business functions on various topics, ranging from cloud computing and culture to how to be a good leader. I was extremely surprised of how open and approachable leaders were at Autodesk, and they even accepted my follow-up invitations on coffee chats after the talks.
2. Intern Hangouts & Discussion:
Aside from formal tech talks, we also had informal gatherings with open discussions. It was great to hear thoughts from fellow interns and about the projects they were working on.
3. Workshops & Volunteering:
As “a make company”, Autodesk hosts weekly free workshops on 3d printing, wood carving, laser cutting at its technology center, which is 15 minutes from my office. Therefore, I took the opportunity to try out laser cutting and produced some decorations! The company also encourages its employee to volunteer often, so I took part in being one of the moderators for a Girls Who Code workshop on design thinking.
Autodesk knew that it wasn’t summer without a little bit of fun, so the company hosted an Intern Olympics for 120+ interns in the Bay Area, in which I got the chance to ramp up some ping pong skills. I also went on tours to famous San Francisco destinations and some hikes with fellow interns.
Overall, spending three months in the major tech hub and with a collaborative company was a spectacular experience for me. This internship really confirms my interest in working in tech and I hope to come back to the Bay Area after graduation.