Two seniors take on challenging internships at Cisco

April 22, 2008 — by Melody Zhang
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At $10 an hour, seniors Michael Song and Jonathan Tien write codes for automated testing for the computer company Cisco

During the infamous second semester of senior year, most seniors are relaxing and enjoying their last few months before college. Two seniors, however, will continue to work much harder than their peers.

Seniors Michael Song and Jonathan Tien have been working as interns for Cisco after alumna Christina Lee, from the class of ‘08, left Cisco Systems and went to Caltech as a junior.

“She needed to recommend someone because she was graduating,” said Tien, who is currently on a temporary haitus. “Over the summer, there were about 14 interns. Right now, they’re on a shortage, they only have three interns. Two from Saratoga High, me and Michael [Song], and the third one’s from Monta Vista.”

At $10 an hour, Song and Tien write codes for automated testing for about 20-25 hours a week.
During this testing process, different data is inputted into the software to make sure that all the rules are in place, such as not having special characters and numbers in a username.

“Cisco has this rigorous testing process because it needs to ensure that all its software works,” said Tien. “You can manually go through and plug everything in yourself, but that takes a huge amount of time and is a waste of energy. We write programs to do the testing for us.”

He is currently working on a software called IPEX, which communicates with devices such as the radio, Internet phones and real phones. Tien is also working on a server upgrade.

“I’m recoding functions because there was a server update from 2.1 to 3.0, so a lot of functions are being changed around that need to be tested,” said Tien. “I’m basically rewriting part of the automation library.”

While Tien enjoys his work as an intern and “want[s] to work in [Computer Science] when I grow up,” Song does not like his work as much.

“I’d rather learn and read on my own than work for them because I don’t really learn anything working there,” said Song, who wants to major in chemistry in college. “[I work there because] they’re short on interns and they really need me to finish the tasks or they’ll be behind.”

As with many other past interns, Tien will possibly work for Cisco whenever he has time after he starts college.

“The internship continues until I leave to college,” said Tien. “After I’m in college, I can come back [during breaks].”

Song, on the other hand, plans to leave once he starts college.

Most teenagers may be earning extra money through jobs such as baby-sitting or dog-walking, but Song and Tien get to enjoy working in the comfort of home.

“They give me a laptop to work from home so I don’t have to make the drive all the way down to San Jose all the time,” said Song. “That would be horrible.”

Although Song does not necessarily like the internship, his and Tien’s dedication and talents are enviable. They serve as an inspiration to others who will take a page out of their book and start exploring interests with their futures in mind.

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