A Summer’s Endeavor: What My NVIDIA Internship Taught Me About Communication and Community

by Karen Xia

Walking into NVIDIA’s Endeavor building, on its Santa Clara campus, for the first time was like stepping into a white, pristine, triangular tech haven. The stairs were perfectly polished. The glass windows had no fingerprints. Everything was color coordinated.

From a drone’s-eye view, the building exterior looks at times to be a reflective, undulating mass — as if Endeavor is alive. And, in a way, it is: thrumming with the beat of a couple thousand engineers, developers, analysts, marketers and others who are all working toward one ultimate goal.

That overall goal was still mostly a mystery to me when I joined NVIDIA earlier this summer as an intern on the corporate communications team.

As an English undergrad at Columbia University, the thought of working at a tech company was foreign to me. It’s the kind of place in which my parents have spent more than two decades working, and in which I presumed creativity and humanity went to die.

But I wanted to learn about the changing tech landscape. And I was excited to write for the disembodied voices of my new managers and colleagues, who I’d only heard over the phone during interviews. So there I was, standing at the foot of the stairs, ready to walk into my three months at this company.

Since then, I’ve written about 3D cell modeling, deep learning frameworks and other technology that I’d never even heard of (not that the threshold for my knowledge was particularly high). About companies using NVIDIA GPUs in ways that my tech-savvy parents hadn’t even heard of, such as fighting diseases like dengue fever. And about high school robotics interns, one of whom took AP computer science in 7th grade.

I remember the moment when I knew this company was the right place for me. It came when Justyna Zander said these three words: committed, forward-thinking and compassionate.

Zander — holder of seven patents, award-winning ballroom dancer and a director on NVIDIA’s automotive tech team — used these to describe the essence of NVIDIA, and its employees, when I interviewed her for a post on our internal website.

During our conversation, I realized what NVIDIA’s mission meant to its employees. She said her work here was reminiscent of her work at the White House, where people are committed not to their job descriptions, but to improving the world through technology.

During my multiple interviews with other NVIDIANs, both interns and full-time employees, I’ve found that this mission holds true.

“It’s amazing to be here,” said Hussain Kadhem, an intern on the Linux software team. “I feel like I’m working on something that actually has value for the company and for the industry. I feel like I’m making a real contribution.”

The sentiment was also clear at bonding and networking events, ranging from attending San Jose Earthquakes soccer games to a party for interns at the CEO’s house.

It was especially clear during speaker series and executive panels, when top leaders explained how they made it at the company. In one, Dwight Diercks, head of Software, spoke about the company’s core value of “intellectual honesty,” and the importance of seeking truth and sharing what is learned from mistakes.

So in some ways, it’s true that Endeavor is a singular, unified, pulsating mass — so is the rest of NVIDIA across its 40+ offices worldwide.

Above anything I came to understand about neural networks and ray tracing, I learned that NVIDIA is a unique organism — a living, breathing company that anyone would be lucky to be a part of.

Find out more about NVIDIA’s internship program.