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Let’s Duo It Again: Why I Returned to Duo for a Second Internship

When I announced that I was returning to Duo for my second internship, I was met with a great deal of congratulations — and occasionally with surprise. In a few cases, I even experienced some soft criticism about this decision. “You should be trying to have a variety of experiences,” some said, “Your early career is a time to explore.”

However, I must take this advice with a grain of salt. By returning to Duo, I would say that I am having a variety of experiences, and I have lots of opportunities to explore! The work I’m doing this summer, both technically and organizationally, is markedly different from last summer. Beyond this, my work will continue to evolve as I communicate both my short- and long-term goals with my extensive support system.

Also, variety alone isn’t enough. To make informed decisions about the future, we need to consider which experiences will likely bring us the most value. That’s what led to my decision to return to Duo. The work I’m doing this summer is a strategic step in the right direction for what I aim to do in my future career.

Last summer, I worked with an excellent team on a rewarding project. I was involved in the frontend development of the new Universal Prompt, implementing features that are seen by users millions of times daily. Throughout the summer, I gained immense experience in both the hard skills of programming as well as the intangible skills of structuring my time and working within a team setting.

In addition, the summer taught me a lot about myself and helped me understand what kind of work excites me the most. The most interesting problems that I faced included how the new Universal Prompt would work in front of the users. At the end of the day, any decisions that we made in this area had to be reinforced by some kind of data. When we had more data to work with, the decisions would become easier, and we could develop the product much faster. This work specifically sparked my interest in the engineering behind data-driven solutions.

At Duo, when anything sparks your interest, you’re generally free to pursue it. When I expressed my interest in working with the Data Engineering side of the business, I was quickly set up to do so. Honestly, in terms of switching teams, I felt like I had pretty much carte blanche access to the entire organization. Everyone is open to discussing opportunities and more than willing to offer advice and help along the way.

While it was tough to say goodbye to my team, I was met only with support in my decision to move forward onto the Data Platform team, where I’m working this summer. As Duo team members, our job is to support the company, but Duo reciprocates this deal and supports us just as much. At Duo, everyone seems to sift into the positions where they want to be.

My story is not unique — many other people around Duo can speak to this experience. We frequently receive emails about job promotions at Duo, and typically there are too many to read! In fact, my former hiring manager who interviewed me for my new role this summer was only on the team for a period of weeks at the time of the interview (I had spent more time at Duo than he did!).

However, over just a few months’ time, he was deservingly promoted into another role. I think it’s a great fit, and I’m very happy for him, as well as my new hiring manager who was promoted to fill his place. You can also find other blog posts where Duo teammates share more experiences like these.

My decision to return to Duo was also complicated by the possibility of working for another company. I did work with other companies over the fall recruiting season, but none of them could really match the freedom that I was given at Duo. Honestly, it was a pretty black-and-white decision. With every other company’s software engineering internship, I had essentially no information about where I would be working, which product or sector I would be working on, or what kinds of technologies I would be working with. While this kind of uncertainty is inevitable and often leads to growth, I couldn’t turn down the work at Duo for this summer, especially because it’s such a certain, targeted leap forward in my career.

It’s also worth mentioning that working on the Duo product is motivating in and of itself. The company is growing rapidly, and Cisco continuously releases news to us about how our product is being used more widely and making a difference in the industry. I’m instantly motivated in an environment where I’m attempting to build technology that’s more innovative, clean, and efficient than all of our competitors. 

This summer, on the Data Platform team, I’m already in the midst of a project that involves making product data immediately available for analysis. The project involves linking together multiple technologies into a system, and I’m pushing the boundaries of how these technologies can be used with one another.

Finally, I can’t forget to mention that the culture at Duo is fantastic. There’s a specifically-designed, multi-pronged approach to keeping a fun, exciting, and lively team environment, and this does not come by accident. On that note, I’d also love to thank Emily Samar for inviting me to write this blog post about my experiences. It really feels special to be heard, especially as an intern. I’m very happy to be back at Duo, excited for everything to come this summer, and encourage you to consider the program if it’s the right time in your career!


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