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Internship Experience Interview Report: Tsubasa Bora

March 29, 2024

Experiencing the Real Thrill of Corporate Research in a Free Environment

Researcher, Biometrics Research Laboratories
Tsubasa Bora

Bora joined NEC after completing his master's program in 2023. Using his experience in super-resolution imaging technologies, which he has continued to research since his student days, Bora is engaged in research focusing on biometric authentication.

Joint research with NEC leads to participation in the internship program

I participated in an NEC internship during the summer of my first year as a master's student. I planned on finding a job after completing my master's program, so I was starting to think that I would like to participate in a long-term internship in anticipation of my job hunting activities. In my case, I was working right around that time on joint research in graduate school with someone from NEC's Biometrics Research Laboratories who approached me about applying, which led to my participation in this program.

The internship lasted about one and a half months from just after the Obon holiday (August) until the end of September. Due to the impact of COVID-19, remote work had already become common at NEC's laboratories, but I reported to the office every day to conduct experiments. As it turned out, this was a very good thing. I received many opportunities to talk face-to-face with my senior colleagues who are active in the same research areas and discuss research, and I was able to interact with many people. This was very inspiring to me.

During my internship, I focused on the same joint research theme from graduate school. To be specific, I was researching low-resolution iris recognition using super-resolution imaging. As a result of being able to work on the same theme, my participation in the internship went smoothly, and after the internship I was able to finish a research paper based on the experimental data, etc. at that time and present it outside the university.

Moreover, since it is an internship, another important point is that you are properly paid. For one and a half months, I reported to the office at around 9:30 and work full-time until after 6:00 pm (Note 1), so I received a solid sum of money. The only thing that I had to be aware of was that the money was only paid after the internship was finished (Note 2), but I did not need to work a part-time job, etc. during the internship period.

  • Note 1:
    The internship working hours can be adjusted based on individual circumstances such as each person's commuting situation, etc.
  • Note 2:
    Intern salaries are closed in the middle of each month and paid on the 26th.

Creating "usable" technologies with extensive equipment and data

During the course of my internship, I came to realize the differences between university and corporate research. In universities, there is the inevitable tendency to pursue precision, etc. However, in companies, you pay attention to whether a technology "can be used or not." For example, the super-resolution imaging that I am researching is an image generation technology, so it is very processing-intensive. I thought that I understood this issue from the time when I was researching the technology in university, but when I actually tried to use it from the perspective of a corporate researcher, I realized that it was completely unusable in its current state. It was only after actually encountering and running a system used in the field that I first became aware of this issue. What I was working with in the university research laboratory was only evaluating the model that I had conceived using public data. However, companies have to think about whether it can be used when it is built as a system together with cameras in the field. NEC has such cameras and other equipment, which enables you to advance your research while actually trying to run the system and see if it operates at a comfortable speed that does not inflict stress on the users, etc. This was an extremely novel and good experience for me.

One additional point is that NEC has data that is essential to machine learning. A major difference compared to university research laboratories is that NEC has accumulated not only published data sets but also a massive volume of data that was custom created for use in research. In my field of research focusing on face recognition and iris recognition, all of the data is in one place, so I think that it is a very easy environment to conduct research in. During that month and a half, I was able to experience the real thrill of corporate research.

An introduction to Bora's daily schedule during his internship

Report to work
(staggered working hours due to the spread of COVID-19)

Check messages (email and chats), confirm his schedule
Survey research papers, experiments
(goes to buy a box lunch together with his supervisor and senior colleagues, eat at their own desks due to COVID-19)

Survey research papers, experiments and result summaries
Report and consult with his supervisor and senior colleagues about his progress Check experiments and the next day's schedule
Leave work

Ability to work freely in the same position as an employee

In truth, I also participated in an internship at one other company during my fourth year of university. It was only a two-week internship, but looking back on it now, I feel that there were significant differences in terms of the freedom compared to NEC. The interns at that company joined the morning assembly every day, sang the company song, and wrote a daily report as part of their routine. When it came to office space, the students were gathered into one office room to work, which meant that we did not have much interaction with the employees. In contrast, NEC had no morning assembly or daily reports, and naturally we did not sing the company song. Status sharing was carried out on a regular basis between the team members. As for office space, I was assigned a desk in the team's area and was able to freely enter and exit the laboratory. Basically, I think that I was able to move about just like an employee. Because of that, I was able to interact with many people.

In terms of freedom, NEC provides considerable freedom when it comes to work styles. I was very surprised by this during my internship. Some people would report to work in the morning and leave at noon while others would arrive in the afternoon. Up until that point, I thought that at corporate research laboratories people would report to work at a set time, leave at a fixed time, or work overtime, so my impression really changed. (Note 3)

As a result, I had a positive impression overall of my internship at NEC, so when I finally got the job, I did not really consider any other options. I applied at the same time that the position became open for entries, and the selection process advanced very quickly. So, when they extended an offer, I decided to directly join the company. I was already very familiar with what the company was like inside, and I got along well with the employees, so I had no concerns about joining. After receiving a job offer so quickly, I was able to become completely absorbed in my own research during the remainder of my master's program, which was really great.

If there are any students out there who are unsure about whether to participate in an internship, I would like to recommend an internship with NEC.

  • Note 3:
    NEC has introduced a flex time system with no core time. In addition, they have also introduced a discretionary labor system for positions at or above a certain level.
  • The information posted on this website is the information at the time of publication.