Determined to foster the future of tech and ecommerce, eBay pushed forward with a virtual internship experience this summer to help shape the next generation of talent. We’re launching our Intern Spotlight Series featuring interviews with the latest class of eBay interns to hear about how their virtual experience made an impact on their future careers in business, tech and marketing.
Tech and innovation are dual driving forces for Rob Schlom. So his hoped-for takeaways from his summer eBay internship revolved around maximizing his exposure to those aspects of the industry. “My goal was to learn: about working in the tech industry; about the tools and techniques used by professional software engineers; about how to generate value for a tech company; and to discover if working in tech was something I enjoyed,” he said.
A senior majoring in math at the University of California at San Diego, Rob achieved his desired deep-dive into all things tech related during his 12-week virtual internship at eBay. As a member of the Workforce Operations Forecasting team for Customer Service Tech, he learned a variety of skills used by eBay’s software engineers, including how to query and clean data pulled from a global database.
In addition, he also gained value through the virtual environment, creating connections, sharpening his interpersonal skills and strengthening ties to company culture that he hadn’t expected — but all of which came as a welcome experience. “I now feel I have an understanding of what working in tech is like, which will make it easier to get my bearings at any tech company I work in my career,” he said.
The eBay News team caught up with Rob recently to chat about the tech knowledge and interpersonal experience he gained over the summer.
Tell us more about your tech learnings?
I’d say the biggest lesson for me has been my project’s subject matter. Coming into eBay, I had no experience with time series forecasting, so my project has been like the ultimate math class. Twelve weeks of studying a new math subject, and applying it to a real-world scenario, has taught me so much. And I also learned a bunch of technical skills, like how to take advantage of various resource libraries, how to set up and use a specific server and proper techniques for querying and cleaning data.
How was it to work virtually on these tech projects?
Doing this virtually seemed a bit daunting at first, but my manager made time each day to get on Zoom with me to review the progress I made, share feedback and discuss next steps. This gave me confidence about the direction I took with my project and made me feel like part of the team. In the process, in general I learned about how to effectively work remotely, by doing things like setting daily goals, removing distractions and taking breaks as needed.
Did you have any surprising learnings outside of technical skills?
On the interpersonal side, I’ve learned how to communicate effectively with my team and present my findings to managers and people from other teams. Those are skills that apply in any job.
Then, there was the whole aspect finding out more about working with eBay specifically. Culture is the word that comes to mind. Even from my kitchen table, hundreds of miles away from eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, I still felt the positive and uplifting culture eBay prides itself on. Everyone I worked directly with on a daily basis as well as the people I only met in passing had kind and helpful attitudes. I really felt like everyone at the company was on the same team.
Any advice for those considering an internship at eBay?
Stay focused and give it your best effort. You’ll be working with some really kind and knowledgeable people who know about things you won’t learn in your college classes. Take advantage of your short time with them to learn as much as possible.