Welcome to the international (English-speaking) blog of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. Our blog invites views on research, education, student life, and other societal themes connected to our computer science fields. The intention is to build a forum as an open window for readers from inside and outside computer science. If you have any good ideas or articles to share on this blog, please feel free to contact us: cs-blog [ät] cs.helsinki.fi.
3 days, 3 month, 3 years
by Esther Galbrun
The summer started for me with an invitation to Google EMEA Scholar's Retreat 2011. That meant spending 3 days at the end of June in Zurich together with close to a hundred other students from all over Europe, from the Middle East and from Africa. The attendees were finalists and recipients of the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, the Google Zawadi Africa Scholarship or the Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. The first two scholarships aim at encouraging women to pursue careers in computer science and technology, so for once the sex ratio was about inverse to what is generally observed in computer science related events. The program included talks ranging from fairly technical topics to general studies and career issues, detailed information about the company's hiring process, a much awaited visit of the offices and a touristic tram tour of the city. This all ended with small groups of students roaming the streets of Zurich in search for world renowned swiss chocolates (alas, our student budgets don't yet accommodate for the equally famous swiss watches).
That was a perfect occasion to meet many people with a common interest in Information Technologies, students as well as Google employees, with a great diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Definitely worth writing the three essays required in the applications...
About a week later, I boarded a plane with a rather different destination. I was to spend 3 months as a graduate intern at Yahoo! Labs in Bangalore, the IT capital of India. Initially, I was passably afraid the unfamiliar living and working conditions might prove difficult to adjust to during my short stay. Bangalore, being fairly temperate, safe and cosmopolitan, is certainly a good pick in that respect. After a little acclimatation and in spite of some administrative issues I was glad to be helped solve, I started to really appreciate the new work. Major internet corporations are under no shortage of data and have ample supplies of problems whose solutions can potentially impact a large amount of users. They offer a great playground for inventive machine learning and data mining practitionners even if that all comes with some operative requirements.
My new acquaintances among fellow interns, the Labs' rather freshly minted doctors and other occupants of the guesthouse, constituted a population sample clearly biased toward young IT professionals but with a fair coverage of the countries's states. From getting me to taste delicious food of all sorts, to preventing my heedless self from being run over while crossing busy streets, by elucidating indian commonplaces that puzzled an ignorant visitor and through diverse conversations, I'm thankful to the friends who allowed me to catch a glimpse, however limited and sketchy, of their colorful and versatile homeland. Unfortunately I did not explore much outside the city itself, for lack of planning and travelling company and despite the numerous praises of all the beauties on which I was missing out. That's just one more reason to visit India again...
I am now back to Helsinki. A country where I have spent over 3 years, Finland has become more than the evocation of boundless forests strewn with a myriad of lakes.
P.S.: If you are interested/eligible in either Yahoo! internship or Google's scholarship (application deadline is 1 Feb), I really recommend applying. More information can be found on the internet (http://in.careers.yahoo.com/students/lang/en and http://www.google.com/anitaborg/emea/), also do not hesitate to ask me.
The CS Blog Task Force
Aaron is doing his PhD in the NODES group at the CS department. His research focuses on mobile computing and energy efficient design for multi-interfaced mobile devices.
Giulio is a Professor at the CS department. His area is Human-Computer Interaction. For more information, please find his homepage here
Doris is a researcher at the CS department and HIIT, doing her PhD in the neuroinformatics research group. Her research interests include graphical models, causal discovery, and time series.