• CNgai

My PayPal Summer 2018 Internship Experience

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

Intention: Now heading into my Senior year of college, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the internship that changed the course of my professional career. This internship has helped build my confidence, strengthen my full-stack JS and Software Engineering skillset, and cultivate a professional network that I am proud to be a part of.

Note: TL;DR at the bottom for a quick read

PayPal Headquarters - San Jose, CA

Day 1

PayPal Orientation! My morning started off with meeting 15 quiet and polite interns. Little did I know, that by the end of these 12 weeks, they, along with a few more interns who joined later, would become some of my closest friends who are full of love, support, intelligence, and fun!

On the project side, I got to meet Brian (my manager), Beka (my mentor), Terry (my second mentor/the team leader), the rest of the members on my team aka Darth Credit (a sub-team of Credit Engineering), and many other positive influencers/engineers in Credit Engineering.

Credit Admin Console - My Internship Project

Credit Admin Console is a web application that uses ReactJS, Node.js, and SQL to allow Financial Product developers to perform administrative and diagnostic functions on Stage, Sandbox, and Production. The goal of this project is to allow the user to perform the CRUD operations on credit financing and global financing profile resources.

For the first two weeks, I took all of the training modules that PayPal had to offer on ReactJS and Node.js. Prior to this internship, I had had experience in HTML, Javascript, and CSS. I kept wanting to dive into the project right away and apply what I had learned, but thanks to the advice of Terry, taking the time was one of the right ways to go about it and also make sure that I had the fundamentals down. It definitely was a bit of a learning curve but after these two weeks, I dove in!

I was given the skeleton application to start off with. I looked at each file and mentally drew a map of how the different entry points created the React application and followed the MVC model. When I started adding in my first React component, I noticed that the application used CommonJS syntax and I had learned ES6 syntax. To best utilize the time that I had, I asked if there was a way to transform the app into an ES6-based app. Because my team primarily focuses on back-end, Terry and Beka always made sure that I had at least a few points of contact and the tools that I needed.

I reached out to a full-stack Javascript developer, Jeff, who was part of another Credit Engineering sub-team in Maryland. He mentioned a PayPal-specific starter sample-app with ES6 syntax and helped me migrate the code that I had from the skeleton app to the sample-app. He became my unofficial Javascript mentor and helped me out immensely with this project whenever I had a PayPal-specific JS question – he is better than StackOverflow!

With this sample-app, I was able to easily transfer the knowledge that I had learned from the trainings, and take off. I figured out how to make REST calls using axios and display tables via React-Bootstrap to show the JSON data. I was also able to create a form component using Redux-forms. This component allowed the Credit Engineering developers to create financing resources programmatically instead of manually. By the time Week 8 came, I was able to successfully build and deploy the application.

The highlight of this project happened during the last three weeks of my internship – the SSO task. With the number of tasks presented, it wasn’t expected for me to get to the SSO task. However, I personally made a goal to challenge myself and make it to the SSO task. On Week 10, I was assigned the task of figuring out how to implement SSO (Single Sign-On) with 2-Factor Authentication into this application – I was so excited! With the help of the strong network that PayPal cultivates, I reached out to a couple of interns from San Jose who implemented SSO into their JS application. With the help of their document, I was able to figure out the setup, which was slightly different because the Credit Admin Console app was based off of a different sample-app than the one that they had used. As I was making the changes, I documented the process that I went through and created a document for my team as well as other teams to use as a source of truth. After communicating with the SSO team and verifying that I had the correct setup for Node.js, I was able to access the app, provide authentication on my phone, and then successfully log into the app online!

1:1 with Wes Hummel, VP of SRE Infrastructure and Operations

One of the awesome events this summer was having a lunch with Wes Hummel, the VP of Infrastructure and Operations in the Site Reliability Engineering domain. His points of management, continuing education, and team communication resonated with me to the point of considering pursuing an MBA at least 3-5 years down the road. I scheduled a 1:1 with him to gather all of the knowledge that I could and learn more about management. He emphasized active listening, empathy, and the importance of focusing on the greater outcomes when you just need that extra drive of motivation. He also asked me what my motivation for aspiring to be a manager is. After giving it a moment of thought, I replied “I want to help people achieve their goals, find what they’re passionate about to channel into their profession, and take care of them.”

He also gave the advice that if I aspire to become a manager in the future, I can start now by operating at least two levels above me in my profession. Examples of implementing this can include putting in quality work/code/time thus making it easier for my manager, providing mentorship to those around me, and creating/finding opportunities to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

PayPal 2018 Intern Summit

The Intern Summit created an environment for 250 interns to connect with each other, get even more awesome swag, have a lot of fun doing team building activities, and learn about the different areas of PayPal such as PayPal Working Capital, Xoom, Braintree, Venmo, and PayPal Credit. The University Programs team also organized two night events. The first night was Vegas Night which was filled with Blackjack and dancing. The dancing was definitely my favorite part! I even got to meet my University Recruiter, Ray, who DJ’d Vegas Night and started me off on this journey! The second night, we got to have dinner on the Hornblower cruise and enjoy the wonderful scenery of the San Francisco Bay. By the end of this summit, I had met a lot of wonderful interns who each had different experiences to share.

In addition to these awesome events, the Scottsdale interns, along with the other interns outside of SF, got to tour the PayPal Headquarters in San Jose. It was eye-opening to see how large the workplace is. My favorite part of the tour was the Innovation Showroom. I got to see the visualization of PayPal transactions across the globe!

The SCF Interns

The interns that I met during this internship have a special place in my heart. With special thanks to our event coordinator Sara, we got to know each other and go indoor skydiving at iFly, teach a group of young students how to code via Scratch, and go to the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott. In addition, we managed to fit in a few games of foosball and ping pong during our breaks. To highlight the birthdays that occurred during this internship, I passed out poster-sized birthday cards for all of the interns to sign and brought cookies. We even had a BBQ at the end of the 12 weeks just to enjoy each other’s company before going our separate ways. The birthday celebrations actually came full circle as they surprised me with a birthday cake at the BBQ!

“It’s Going To Be Ok, Joe”

On the first day of my internship when I got introduced to a specific member on my team, Joe, I recognized him because he was one of the interviewers during my on-site interview. Brian noted that he had such a strong work ethic and dedication to his job in PayPal Credit – and I got the desk next to him! He told me, with a smile, “90% of your internship duty, in addition to your project, is that you have to tell Joe that ‘It’s going to be ok every day’.” I thought it would be a great opportunity to build team camaraderie and moral.

After telling Joe, "It's going to be ok," for the first couple of days, I wanted to up the delivery and get creative with it. I turned this saying into a photo, meme, video, and even an 18”x10” custom poster. On the second to the last week, my mentor and I came up with a fun idea – a t-shirt! I also wanted to do something special for my team so I asked Brian, “What about team t-shirts?” He loved the idea and on my lunch break, Beka and I collaborated on what the font and placement of the text would be. Throughout this whole internship, brainstorming these out-there/fun ideas was just one of the many fun things that I got to bond over with Beka, my mentor.

On the last day of my internship, I wore the shirt under my PayPal jacket and got to do a big reveal, Superman style, to Joe and the team during daily standup – it was epic! Afterwards, I handed out the shirts and the whole team put them on. It was a great feeling and sight to see the support that my team has for one and other.

From left to right: Terry (team leader), Brian (my manager), and Beka (my mentor)


During these 12 weeks, I developed, built, and deployed a full-stack Javascript application with SSO and 2FA using ReactJS, Node.js, along with many other frameworks and technologies. I got to work with an awesome manager, mentors, and a supportive team. We got to show our support for each other with our “It’s Going To Be Ok, Joe” team t-shirts. I had a 1:1 with Wes Hummel which gave me the extra motivation to consider pursuing a future MBA. The Intern Summit was a blast and I got to meet my University Recruiter, Ray, who is also an awesome DJ! The SCF interns are a wonderful group of intelligent people who know how to have a good time.

To top it off, I was offered a full-time position as a Software Engineer on Darth Credit, one of the PayPal Credit teams, upon graduation – I happily accepted! This internship has changed the course of my professional career and I couldn’t be more happy to see where this next chapter leads.