Fierce competition is the new norm in tech and Andre Kenneth “Chase” Randall, a GEM fellow and junior software developer at Intel, is familiar with the challenge. As a GEM fellow (from the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science), he’s ventured out of his comfort zone, seeking new experiences and challenges. Now at Intel, Chase is discovering that learning something new isn’t a mantra on a coffee mug but a way of life.
We talked with Chase about his career experiences and where he goes next.
Q. What is the GEM fellowship and how did it develop into an Intel internship opportunity?
A. GEM is a fellowship that’s designed to increase underrepresented minority representation on the graduate level, whether it’s master’s or a PhD. They try to encourage, incubate if you will, minorities to seek advanced degrees.
I had the option of doing a PhD or master’s program. Carnegie Mellon University was nice enough to accept me into a master’s program. GEM fellowship has three tiers. Tier one is a GEM fellow. Tier two is a GEM fellow supported by university. Then the top tier is what they call a full fellowship, meaning you’re a GEM fellow supported by a university as well as a corporate sponsor.
In my case, I was a full fellow supported by Carnegie Mellon University and Intel. The Intel support was really, really awkward, because I didn’t know it at the time, but there were over 2,600 GEM fellow applications the year that I applied. Of the 2,600 applications, Intel only selected 30. That’s how I got started at Intel.
Q. What was it about Intel that made you want to seek them out as a corporate sponsor?
A. There are so many touchpoints that Intel has had in my life, starting from when I got my first laptop. Intel’s all over the world. I see Intel on TV. Intel created the USB port. Intel has been an innovative company for the past 50 years, which is basically my life.
It’s one thing to see it on TV, and then it’s something else to actually be here in real life. Intel has always, I guess, been a part of my life.
Q. What excites you about your experience at Intel?
A. One of the things that has been exciting for me is to know that I’m in a psychologically safe space at Intel. My senior development engineer that I work with, a senior developer has 19 patents, he’s so humble. He’s so graceful. He asks, “What are your roadblocks? How can I help you get past the roadblock?” That’s an affirming spot to be in, to know that you’re trying to better your best, and there’s someone there giving you a helping hand, and trying to support you in that process.
Because Intel is a world leader, it’s easy to get intimidated, and think, “I’m not good enough to be there. And if I am good enough, can I make a good contribution?” But I feel confident with the support I get to make a contribution that’s unique to me.
Q. What are you currently working on that excites you?
A. I’m in a domain space called telemetry data. Telemetry data is created when there’s a crash report. People see this all the time: “Your system crashed. The app crashed. Your screen crashed, blue screen of death, etc.” Those reports generate logs. The question then becomes what happens to those logs from a hardware perspective.
I’m working on a project that visualizes those logs.
I’m doing server side and client side access coding. You might wonder, why does this matter? Well, you can get a thousand logs, but if you can visualize it, then you can look at them and say, “What does this pattern suggest?” We call this visualization “time series.” You can time series over months or years or weeks or days. If there’s a particular warning or alert, it’s easier to see it if you’re visualizing.
Ultimately, what that team I work on does is try to make things easier for the consumer. We always want to try to make things, we say, customer obsessed. We always want to make things easier for the customer.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to figure out where they belong?
A. Think about fierce competition as the new normal, that’s how you stay relevant in the marketplace. This is a tech space. Change is the new constant. Just constantly think about how to do better at your skill set. How do you get better at what you’re doing?
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