A great way to test a company’s culture is to immerse new people in it for a short amount of time at a time of peak workload. That is what we did with our two 2018 summer interns and considering that over 10,000+ people have applied to work at Knightscope, it is no easy feat to get to work here. As our CEO, William Santana Li, said “I have built numerous teams in my life, but never one like this….absolutely honored and privileged to work with our team of dedicated, relentless, smart, slightly crazy folks!” We’ve been extremely lucky that a number of our interns over the years have been anxious to come back as full-time employees – and have done extraordinarily well and contributed so much!
Interns require a commitment of time from their manager and peers to be able to be productive in the short time they are at Knightscope, but they can also be a great addition to the team (no, they are not running around getting coffee for people or opening the snail mail). Mercedes Soria, Executive Vice President and Chief Intelligence Officer, asked our shiny, new, bright interns Shivani Singh and Matthew Condino what they think about working at Knightscope and here is what they had to say:
Q. Can you tell me a bit about yourself? Where did you go to school and what do you think about Silicon Valley?
Shivani: I’m about to start my senior year at Boston University, and I’m majoring in Computer Engineering. I grew up in the Silicon Valley, so I’m very used to the culture around here. It’s a place saturated with a lot of intelligent people and innovative businesses, which I really admire. It’s home to me. And there’s always a really great milk tea place at every corner!
Matt: I went to college at Santa Clara University and got a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently enrolled at Santa Clara in a master’s program in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Robotics and Mechatronics. I love Silicon Valley, I had no idea I would enjoy this much when I moved to the area 5 years ago. There’s definitely a work hard – play hard attitude here, which suits me well.
Q. What made you decide to work at a startup and especially at Knightscope?
Shivani: When I was applying for internships, I was looking for an environment where I would experience the most growth, intellectually and personally. I figured that a startup would be perfect, and a startup in the Silicon Valley would be even more-so. There was actually a Knightscope Robot in the Boston area – I believe it was a K5, but I’m not too sure. That’s when I first had any interaction with the company. From the get-go, I was captivated by the robots and the company’s mission statement. Knightscope fit all of the internship criteria I had.
Matt: I love that everyone here is so committed to tackling difficult problems. Being able to work with state-of-the-art technology definitely drew me to Knightscope, since the company has some of the most cutting-edge autonomous tech in the field.
Q. What do you think is the most necessary quality for someone to do this job?
Shivani: It’s extremely important to be open to learning new technologies in a fearless manner. If you don’t know something, that’s okay – use the resources around you to keep moving forward.
Matt: I think that someone needs to love learning in order to be an employee at Knightscope, since there’s a TON of stuff that I’ve had to learn here so far in order to start contributing. In addition, a willingness to solve problems collaboratively is definitely a plus, since in my experience, teamwork is the key to solving complex challenges.
Q. What is the most exciting thing about your job?
Shivani: Simply put, the fact that I get to work for a company that builds autonomous security robots is super cool. It’s humbling to make even the slightest bit of contribution to this cutting-edge technology.
Matt: I absolutely love robotics, so working at a company that is actively seeking to improve people’s lives through the application of robotic technology fascinates me!
Q. What is the most difficult thing you have had to do in this job?
Shivani: As an undergraduate intern, I definitely don’t know as much as everyone else around me. At first, it seemed intimidating, but it gave me the opportunity to explore, research, and learn – which is exactly what I was searching for. At the end of every day, I’m excited and content to know that I’ve gained a new skill.
Matt: I am trying to setup a simulation that emulates how our robot interacts with its environment, which has definitely challenged my skills and pushed me to grow as an engineer!
Q. Any funny situation that you remember?
Shivani: We had a number of young kids come by KHQ one day, and they all asked great questions – and one of those questions was explained in a very animated way to ensure the answer was understandable.
Matt: One of my coworkers was testing a robot’s text-to-speech capabilities and tried to make the robot say “quesadilla”. I never knew a robotic voice could be so hilarious!
Q. Your most memorable day at work?
Shivani: I had the chance to go to a deployment nearby, which really helped me visualize and understand what goes on “behind-the-scenes”. It was fascinating seeing it all come together.
Matt: My first day was pretty memorable since it was difficult to get used to seeing robots patrolling the hallways.
Q. Our interns are very accomplished and not only at work, here they share their hobbies. So the last question for you is…….do you have any hobbies?
Shivani: I love to dance! I’m on my university’s competitive garba-raas team. It’s a type of Indian folk dance, that I picked up in college. In my free time, I enjoy writing and blogging.
Matt: Of course! I’ve played drums for about 14 years now, so I enjoy drumming in my spare time. I also like rock climbing!