Summer 2020 Plinterns: A Look Back


Updated on September 30, 2020

Our summer internship program has come to a close and we feel fortunate to have worked with such an enjoyable group of Plinterns! Before our Plinterns headed back to school we caught up with a few to learn about their overall summer experiences.

Meet Lujing Cen!

MIT, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - Core ServicesCore Services

What projects did you work on this summer?
This is my second summer as a Plintern, so I was really excited to start working on my projects! One of the projects that I worked on was resurrection queue draining. Internally, we use queues to schedule objects that we want to perform data updates for on a per-financial-institution basis. Occasionally, these objects temporarily go into what we call a “bad state” when the data retrieval fails. For such objects, we maintain a separate “resurrection” queue that retries the data retrieval a few times before permanently transitioning the objects into a bad state if they keep failing. However, we sometimes disable resurrection for certain institutions, which leaves resurrectable objects for those institutions in a “zombie “ state where they are not retried and clients are not informed about them. Resurrection queue draining solves this problem by periodically removing objects whose institutions have resurrection disabled from the resurrection queue and sending webhooks to clients informing them that the object has entered a bad state.


What was your proudest accomplishment this summer?
I was really proud of my team’s hackathon project — Pleople. In three days, my team and I built integrations for various communication mediums that we used like Confluence, Slack, Google Calendar, etc. We then combined all of the data into an interactive force graph that lets users explore the strength of connections between different people at the company across different combinations of communication mediums. This provided a really easy way for us to then suggest coffee chats between people who had very little interaction with each other to increase the overall connectedness of the company.

Meet Claire Lin!

UC Berkeley, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - Data Science and Infrastructure

What projects did you work on this summer?
I consolidated data from various sources, such as our Plaid Portal, to improve our experience for returning users. My project improved the coverage for duplicate objects owned by a particular end user. This contributes to an improved returning user experience when consumers use Link, Plaid’s client integration component.

What made your projects particularly challenging or interesting?
Soon after starting my project, I realized that there were much greater complexities in the representation of consumers than I’d initially thought. For one, many of Plaid’s users are multi-account holders, with some users holding upwards of even ten accounts! Thus, it was a challenge to integrate data sources to improve coverage due to the nuances in how end users use the Plaid API.

What was your proudest accomplishment this summer?
Definitely successfully launching my intern project! It was really exciting to watch the metrics and witness the impact of my code in real time. Knowing that my code affects the user experience for thousands of users is very motivational.

Meet Brandon Wang!

UIUC, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - Consumer

What projects did you work on this summer?
My first project reduced the latency of loading Plaid Link by replacing the first request Link makes with a lightweight alternative. This project not only made the Link experience smoother but also unblocked several of the other consumer teams.

I also worked on an internal tool that enabled Plaid’s business team to configure one of the institution specific panes in Link without needing to deploy code. This project will replace a slow process that introduces interruptions to our engineering teams with an easy, self-serve tool.

What new skills did you acquire?
Besides learning new technologies such as Redis and Redux, I improved my formal writing skills. I really liked how the Plinternship emphasized the importance of writing a project’s tech spec by letting the Plinterns take ownership of that process. I also got the chance to learn more about Plaid’s business; I shadowed several sales calls and chatted with people on non-engineering teams. Throughout that process, I learned a lot about Plaid’s business strategies and customers.

What was your proudest accomplishment this summer?
One of my proudest accomplishments was my Plaiderdays project. The internal hackathon took place within the first few weeks after my onboarding, so I only just started getting familiar with the codebases. I worked on creating the Link flow for a product aimed to help charities collect donations. In the beginning, I had no idea how Link worked, and was unfamiliar with the technologies it used. But over the course of three days, and with the help of another intern, Hugh, and an engineering manager, Judd, I was able to ship a functional demo of the project!

Meet Zack Holbrook!

MIT, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - Tools Team

What projects did you work on this summer?
For my ramp up project, I worked on adding a new feature to our internal tooling portal that allows customers to call Plaid API endpoints. This enables our Support Team to better debug customer-facing issues on our endpoints. There was a tool already to do this for API endpoints that required an object, but this new tool allowed customers to call endpoints that didn't require items, like '/asset_report/get' and '/institutions/search'.

For my capstone project, I worked on a Job Runner that allows users to make bulk requests to backend endpoints for the same internal tooling server. The job runner queues jobs onto a queue, and spins up workers to poll for and work on jobs from this queue. One use case for making bulk requests is to backfill data for hundreds of thousands of objects. This can now be done using the Job Runner rather than using custom local scripts or other methods. This will help the Tools team standardize and monitor how bulk requests are made to internal tools.

What new skills did you acquire?
This internship I've acquired new technical skills like working with React and Typescript, gaining experience with NodeJS, learning good logging and monitoring practices, and learning how to deploy infrastructure. I've also learned how to write technical specs at Plaid and how to collaborate with people remotely.

Meet, Akshit Annadi!

UC Berkeley, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - International Team

What projects did you work on this summer? Why was it important?
Payment Initiation Webhooks: This project involved adding webhooks to our UK Payment Initiation product, allowing clients to be notified when the status of a payment that they initiated has changed. This was important because before the webhooks, if a client wanted to monitor the status of a payment, they would have to repeatedly poll a Plaid API endpoint instead.

Open Banking Downtime: This project involved adding more downtime information to our developer dashboard, particularly for UK institutions. In the UK, many banks are required to self-report downtime for their APIs, which we use to power our integrations. I created a service that collected and parsed that information, stored that information, and displayed it in the dashboard. This was important, because it gives clients a much more holistic picture on institution health.

UK Payment Initiation Demo: This project involved creating a demo application that showcased the full Payment Initiation flow. This was important, because there was no way for external clients to try this product in a production environment or external testers to access the product.

What new skills did you acquire?
I learned how to effectively plan and design a project so that executing and implementing it can be done with ease. I had to consider various tradeoffs and weigh multiple alternatives to land on the best path forward for my project, something that I hadn’t done before. I also learned how to effectively work remotely. At the beginning, it was challenging to set boundaries for myself between work and my personal life and effectively communicate with my team over purely virtual mediums, but these were skills I slowly acquired over the course of the summer.

What was your proudest accomplishment this summer?
My proudest accomplishment from the summer was definitely getting the work on the Open Banking Dashboard done. It was incredibly gratifying to see the project in production and get positive feedback from clients.

Meet Sean Walker!

Wake Forest, Class of 2021 - Communication and Anthropology, Team: Sales - NBA

What projects did you work on this summer? Why was it important?
I worked on an Account Research Training Guide for future sales interns. This guide includes links and documents to Sales Navigator, Sales Force, LeadIQ, and Plaid use cases. This was important for the team because it was initially difficult to find resources specific to the ART team to help them with their daily processes. I wanted to give the interns a space to find everything they needed to be successful.

What made your projects particularly challenging or interesting?
It was difficult to manage working on this project at times while handling my intern duties and preparing for mock calls. It was interesting working with different members on the New Business Team to find information.

What was your most memorable moment from your Plaid internship?
My most memorable moment at Plaid is playing Jackbox games with the other interns! It was a great time to meet everyone and spend time bonding over something fun.

Meet Camden Ko!

Vanderbilt, Class of 2021 - Computer Science, Team: Engineering - Integrations

What projects did you work on this summer?
My project enabled integration support for financial institutions with image based MFA. Previously, we offered legacy, limited, or no support for these banks. With this project, these institutions would be fully supported. This project is also a great jumping off point for further building support for image login flows like ReCaptcha.

What made your projects particularly challenging or interesting?
This project is very vertical, allowing me to touch every part of the Plaid stack. When building out the functionality, I had to pipe images through various services in the Plaid stack, and present them to consumers who use Plaid powered apps.

What new skills did you acquire?
As a computer science student, most of my time was dedicated to solving algorithmic problems. Assignments and exams would center around solving well defined problems.

As a software engineering intern, most of my time was dedicated to defining the problem I'm working on. There's no single "correct" design for my project. Instead, I had to consider the trade offs of various design decisions before writing a line of code.

What was your most memorable moment from your Plaid internship?
My most memorable moment was participating in Plaiderdays: Plaid's internal hackathon. At first the idea of doing a hackathon fully remote seemed daunting. Thankfully, my team members at Plaid were all incredibly accommodating. Myself and another intern took advantage of being fully remote and teamed up with two developers from the UK. We worked in a codebase I was completely unfamiliar with, building out a new way for people to sign in with Plaid.

Interested in joining the Plaid team next summer? Join us!