– By Samuel
Like most college students, I found myself faced with a dilemma: How to get relevant work experience without spoiling my summer break?
I had this question in the back of my mind for quite a while, when a friend of mine told me about Israel Tech Challenge, an Israeli internship program that provides the opportunity to combine an exciting summer by the beach in Tel Aviv, with valuable work experience at an Israeli high-tech company.
Although I applied quite late, I was lucky to get a chance to go on an interview with ClickFrauds for a Data Scientist Intern position. This startup is located in the heart of the desert and is part of the new industry of high-tech in the Negev.
Before the interview, I did some research on the company, on its market and on its competitors. I realized that the ClickFrauds tool targets a huge market of online advertisers and can really help them protect their business against unwanted clicks. And unlike its competitors, ClickFrauds proposes a very simple and convenient user experience. That sounded pretty great to me!
Two interviews later, I finally got accepted! It was time to get my visa and buy some new swim trunks. What happened next was pretty exciting…
I shared a house in a very nice neighborhood located in the north of Tel Aviv with five other people in my program that were interning at other companies. It was a ton of fun but let’s just say, college guys are slobs.
My internship was in the heart of the Negev Desert, an exciting new hub for the high-tech industry in Israel. I had to commute by train every day to get to work but thankfully, ClickFrauds reimbursed me for all transportation costs, including unlimited buses in Tel Aviv for the entire summer. The trains in Israel are quite nice and you even get a signal for mobile data the entire trip. I used that time to watch movies or get some extra work done since my employers were nice enough to let me do some of my work remotely. I even had the opportunity to work one day per week from home and the company was quite flexible with my schedule.
Becoming a part of the click fraud fighters community was a great experience. First, I met my new colleagues and discovered the work conditions: Free beers in the fridge, biscuits, tea, coffee, sometimes pizzas or burgers for lunch, really everything you might look for in a high-tech company. My co-workers were really awesome and I took a one-hour break every day to eat some authentic falafels with them and we eventually became falafriends.
But that’s just part of the story, the second week, I had a very nice surprise! The startup was accepted into the Google Launchpad Accelerator program in the Electra building in Tel Aviv for one week. In addition to the incredible panorama view of the city, we had free breakfast, free lunch, and free snacks. What can I say, college kids love free food! I also had the opportunity to follow some lectures about startups in English.
The project I was working on dealt with VPN and proxy detection: I had to build a program from scratch to predict the likelihood of an IP address to belong to a VPN or a proxy server. The project mixed a bit of software engineering and data science in Python.
The main advantage of working in a bootstrapping company was the freedom I was given to work on my project. I could propose my own ideas and take a lot of initiatives. This was not the case for many of my friends in the program that worked for larger companies.
The experience provided me with the opportunity to work on real data. At school, everything works perfectly and we get nice, out-of-the-box datasets. But here, I got to build the datasets I used for training and evaluated my machine learning model on my own.
I also faced new obstacles, like selecting the most relevant features. Some of them would turn out to be relevant, while other times I would spend a few hours on something only to discover that it did not improve the model. Trying a bunch of different things was very educational!
To detect VPN and proxy servers, my program was made up of two consecutive stages. The first consisted of a set of rules, and the last step involved using statistics to catch VPN or proxy servers that had slipped through the net in the first time.
I carried out a lot of research to find out which network features were relevant and which were not. Since I needed a lot of data from the internet such as public proxy server addresses, I built a few crawlers to retrieve information from the web. For example, one crawler was used to build a blacklist while another one provided me with useful information to create my own labeled train and test datasets.
Once I had enough data, I tried a few machine learning models to improve the prediction score. One of the biggest challenges I encountered was the bias in the data I received from the web. They had to be representative of enough of the data from the customers and I struggled to avoid overfitting.
During my internship in the Negev, I also had to make a few slide presentations to explain my project in detail and since some listeners did not have a technical background, I had to make an effort to make myself clear enough for everyone to understand. So, my experience also helped me improve my communication skills and my English.
Once I finished my workday, I went back to Tel Aviv pretty early and had plenty of time in the evening to play beach volley, try out new restaurants or go to bars. Israel Tech Challenge provided the opportunity to take part in a lot of events during the weekends. I also planned a few trips with the friends and got to explore some of the country.
Before I left, my bosses, Offer and Sarah organized a barbecue party and invited everyone from the company so that we could have a proper goodbye.
In conclusion, my work experience in the startup nation was very beneficial and fun. I developed my technical expertise while also learning a lot about the high-tech industry in the Negev. I established strong connections with my colleagues that will continue long after I finish school and start my career. When I look back at my summer, I will remember it as an amazing 2-months that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Samuel returned to France in August to get ready for his next semester of school. We had a wonderful time getting to know him and we wish him the best of luck in everything he does. We know he will continue to do great things and thank him for sharing his story. Be sure to check out our website where you can read even more stories from our past interns.
Also, you can read more personal stories from participants of the Israel Tech Challenge!
Get in touch with us to find out more about our internship and career opportunities and learn how you can join the fight again click fraud!