Interested in what we do at INTELLLEX? Hear from one of our interns on the Data Science team. Jane Seah is a rising Year 4 Information Systems student at Singapore Management University. She interned with the team from May to August 2019 under SGInnovate’s Summation programme, which offers apprenticeships in deep tech projects.
Interviewer (Aaron): Hi Jane! Tell us about your role at INTELLLEX.
Jane: I worked on the ConanD team which is a combination of legal knowledge engineers and data scientists. The legal knowledge engineers analyse the search patterns of lawyers and try to understand the results they desire. With the help of their legal subject expertise, we data scientists develop machine learning capabilities that are refined to lawyers’ needs.
A: Can you share with us a little more about your job scope and responsibilities?
J: I worked on 3 main arcs during my internship:
Implementing features and fixing bugs.Testing out the classifiers.Project JANE — legal word embedding for the machine learning systems to deeper understand the context of documents. (Not my choice of name. Get that on record.)
The nature of machine learning is that the training of models takes significant time. However, I was never just sitting around waiting. There were always bugs to fix or small tasks to do. This was a good taste of what working life is like, because you will often be juggling multiple projects.
A: What did you like most about this internship? How do you think it has helped you grow?
J: First of all, I think I was really lucky, because usually with internships, you don’t actually know what you’re getting into — you don’t know if you’re going to do actual work or just administrative tasks. With INTELLLEX, I got to build and train models and work on the actual product that lawyers and clients are using. This gave me a lot of validation because they trusted me, an intern, to have code in their actual product.
It was great being able to learn from my supervisor Archibald, who has applied experience and extensive knowledge about machine learning. He could foresee the usual problems and mistakes I might make and would give me advice and direction. He was also really, really supportive. I had some self-doubt but he gave me a lot of confidence by making sure I knew my work was good and always giving me due credit.
At INTELLLEX, I had the opportunity to regularly interact with different people across functions. Sometimes, the entire office became a brainstorming discussion. I also really liked the Company Huddles every two weeks, because I actually got to hear from management. They shared their business vision and strategy moving forward, as well as future product direction.
From there, it was much easier to link my work with the company direction so I could see how I was tangibly helping to make the product better.
A: What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced in your internship and what did you do to overcome them?
J: I think the number one challenge I faced was learning Clojure, which is a completely new programming language for me. It was quite challenging, because I was told that by the end of my first week of learning, I should be able to write a feature in Clojure. At the beginning, I felt so far from being able to but I dedicated myself and eventually got the hang of it.
Another one was when I was starting to work on Project JANE. The truth of the matter is that I would have loved to do more for it. However, I feel like at that point in time, I didn’t have enough knowledge about word embedding models. I tried to read up on them, but I feel one of my biggest obstacles was not having strong math fundamentals, which is why I’m going to do math courses on exchange at the University of Edinburgh.
A: How would you describe this company’s culture and the office atmosphere?
J: I think maybe the foremost thing that strikes me is that most people in this company are generally very straightforward people. They’re not afraid of telling you what you can improve in or when you did something that wasn’t the best. At the same time, they are willing to give you compliments when they feel it’s due — so you get both the positive and negative feedback. And it’s timely feedback, not when it’s way overdue or too late to improve.
A: How do you see legal tech now that you’ve been exposed to it and worked on it?
J: Before working at INTELLLEX, I wasn’t sure what legal tech was about. Because I didn’t have the domain knowledge, I didn’t know how technology was able to help the legal industry. The lawyers working at INTELLLEX have actually felt the pain points we are trying to solve. That showed me there is a very real use case that technology can be used to tackle. I think that’s why you feel a sense of conviction when you work here. You know that the work you do actually creates value for a section of society.
A: What would you say to someone who is considering interning at INTELLLEX? Why should they join this company?
J: If they are interested in NLP (Natural Language Processing) and at least fairly interested in the legal industry, I would say this is the place to try it out. There are a lot of opportunities to learn and your opinion will be heard. They always ask if you have any ideas and encourage you to share them. Where else are you going to have such an impact as an intern in legal tech?
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Note: We’re happy to be part of the next intake of SGInnovate’s Summation Programme in December 2019. Applications are open until 6 September here. We look forward to welcoming you to the INTELLLEX team, just like Jane!