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Breaking Barriers in Tech: Making a Difference as a LinkedIn Intern

Did you know Gen Z is the fastest-growing global audience demographic on LinkedIn? During this unprecedented moment in the history of work, people are rethinking not just how they work, but why they work. For those newly joining the workforce, it’s a time unlike any other to jumpstart your career. 

Career-focused, ambitious, and socially conscious, the future of emerging talent in the workforce is very bright because of changemakers like Daniel Ye, a CodePath Student and Backend Systems and Infrastructure Engineer Intern at LinkedIn. We spoke with Daniel about breaking down barriers, the power of community, and taking steps to advance your career.

“A lot of times you just need to have an open mind and have some creativity,” says Daniel. Always inspired to think big and seeking to make an impact on the world, Daniel decided the best way he could make a difference was through technology and engineering.

“You have the opportunity to build something that can benefit so many people,” he shares. “We’ve all had a chance to see the impact of software engineering firsthand throughout the pandemic: people creating websites, trackers, and apps to help one another to find jobs and connect resources. We’re also seeing it right now with the resources people are pulling together to help support Ukraine. It’s amazing how technology helps bring people together.”

Originally a political science major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, it wasn’t until the latter part of his sophomore year that Daniel decided to pursue a degree in computer science. Diving right into classes and exploring internship opportunities to gain hands-on experience, he learned how difficult it can be to break into tech.

“I had a couple of technical interviews before discovering CodePath that were pretty tough. I didn’t have previous experience with computer science and no one in my family works in tech, so I was pretty confused about the whole process,” Daniel shares. 

Looking for tools to help with his technical interviews, “I did some searching online and I saw that CodePath was a resource that a lot of students used in the past to help them start their engineering careers. I applied for a summer seat in their software engineering class and was placed in their advanced software engineering track. They cover what topics these companies and interviewers are looking for, and you get insight into the interview process for technical roles from instructors that are engineers working at these huge corporations like LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook. It was really valuable and helped me a lot this year.” 

The hard work and time Daniel invested in improving his technical interview skills through CodePath’s programming paid off. After applying for an internship with LinkedIn,  “my recruiter, Jaime, reached out to start the process. After connecting with her, I did the technical assessment and moved on to the final team matching (LinkedIn has you meet with a couple of teams for the best match). I met with my (now) manager and after talking with her I could see the work they’re doing is really cool. I got matched with her team and I was offered a winter internship, which gave me more flexibility and time to see what I want in my career. Now, my role is working on the backend and systems - it’s something I hadn’t worked on a lot before and it’s fascinating.”

As an intern at LinkedIn, Daniel is gaining valuable experience in backend engineering and making the positive impact in people’s lives that he has always aspired to. “I work on Search Federation. When you are searching for something on LinkedIn, our team supports everything from the original query you are searching for to transforming that query and rewriting it to something we can get from our databases so we can return the best results,” he explains. 

“Let’s say you’re a LinkedIn member and you search by the word ‘A.I.’ on platform - there could be a lot of reasons someone is searching for that. It could be an engineer searching for relevant articles and open roles, or it could be a recruiter looking to hire talent in the space. Our team tailors the results for these different situations with machine learning to return the most relevant search results from top to bottom and make it much easier for you to find what you’re looking for,” Daniel shares.

For Daniel, it’s been transformational to be part of how his team is changing the way the world works - reducing inequity through knowledge sharing, creating access to opportunity, and ultimately sharing resources to help others be more productive and successful. All of these efforts help make progress towards fulfilling LinkedIn’s mission of connecting the world to economic opportunity. 

Daniel sees the connection between this work and the communities at LinkedIn and CodePath -  “both of these platforms share a common goal to create economic opportunity for everyone. LinkedIn helps break down a lot of barriers in the workforce by connecting with other people and [opening] doors for opportunities you never would have expected. Similarly, CodePath breaks down barriers to make a career in tech feel accessible. Codepath is a lot like LinkedIn - it gives you access to resources and courses that really help develop your career and prepare you for your next role.”

LinkedIn and CodePath are both also rooted in community and creating meaningful connections. As both help more emerging and underrepresented talent enter the workforce, Daniel hopes that this next generation can help make a difference in the world and redefine what is professional in the world of work. “I have noticed this trend a lot where people on LinkedIn are sharing  their unofficial job titles, like dog parents or advocates of a cause important to them. That's awesome because I think it's pretty easy to get caught up in just doing the work itself and not really fostering that deeper connection that a lot of people want.”

He adds, “It’s professional to not be afraid to share your interests and hobbies or talk about what’s going on outside work. I think actually taking the time to get to know everyone a little bit better helps foster a more energetic and creative workforce.”

Looking ahead to the future, Daniel is excited to continue making a positive impact. “With so many users on the platform, working at LinkedIn, you impact a bunch of people every single day. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing that. I’d like to explore some different industries - I’m always interested in how computer science can be applied to many different fields like nonprofits and education.  There’s so many different avenues where you can use your skills, so hopefully I can continue to work on products that make people's lives better and easier,” he shares. 

With these lofty future ambitions and a current busy schedule of internships, school, and his personal life, Daniel acknowledges “it can be very tough sometimes to find a balance. I've been lucky that LinkedIn provides things like no meeting days to recharge. Our intern program team also focuses a lot on wellness and how to manage stress. Recently, we even went over a meditation strategy and the team sent us a tea kit to encourage us to relax.”

For others looking to achieve work-life balance, Daniel shares "outside of work, it's important to not overload yourself at school or with other activities. Try to be more compassionate to yourself and others - realizing that it's a journey and we all have a different one. It's a marathon, not a sprint.”

LinkedIn and CodePath will be here to root for and support Daniel every step of the way.  

LinkedIn and CodePath have partnered together to invest in and uplift underrepresented talent in tech through the Internship Connection Program.  Are you looking to unlock your career potential? Learn more about opportunities to make a difference like Daniel at LinkedIn.