What It's Like To Be An Intern In Our Machine Intelligence Lab

Ryan Sander

This year, we are doing Nasdaq’s annual internship program a little differently. As we navigate the novel COVID-19 pandemic, we have turned circumstance into a learning opportunity for interns joining us this year to participate in meaningful and long-term projects. Through the Nasdaq Futures Internship Program, we offer a variety of professional experiences for emerging talent through an immersive 10 to 12-week virtual internship program. 

From Stockholm to the U.S., meet few of the bright minds joining us digitally from all around the world. They are playing integral, hands on roles to help Nasdaq Rewrite Tomorrow. 

Today, we speak with Ryan Sander, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology interning with our Machine Intelligence Lab in Global Information Services.

Tell us a little bit more about your role at Nasdaq.

As a data science and machine learning intern, I am working with a team in Nasdaq’s Machine Intelligence Lab to collaboratively build an AI-based option listings framework.  Our goal with this project is to use state-of-the-art techniques in feature engineering, clustering, time series forecasting, and control to intelligently list strike prices in options exchanges.  The primary tools I work with in my role are Python, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, and Git.

Why were you eager to do an internship at Nasdaq?

I have a strong interest in pursuing a career in machine learning, and I yearn to explore different industry domains where machine learning can be applied to create positive and meaningful impact.  Nasdaq in particular stood out to me in part because of the company’s emphasis on applying machine learning methods to improve its business practices.  More importantly, however, Nasdaq stood out to me because I believe the company is dedicated to creating a better and more equitable world. I take pride having the opportunity to work at a company that empowers people economically across the globe through the creation of new markets. 

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about working here and on your team?

Working at Nasdaq has exposed me to just some of the ways that FinTech is changing, and will continue to change, the world for the better.  It has opened my eyes to the myriad of applications of this field, and has helped me to develop a better technical and business understanding of our team’s project.

Tell us about the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far.

Our main deliverable for this summer is to build an AI-driven option listings framework to improve the quality of options offered at an exchange.  To achieve this, we are building a pipeline in which we combine novel approaches in high-dimensional clustering, feature engineering, time series forecasting, and control through a Python-based software package.  Having the opportunity to collaborate on this project with my team (Doug Hamilton, Sophie Chen, Kevin Kim, Neha Prasad, and Juan Gallego) has been tremendously rewarding, and has allowed us to explore and integrate many unique ideas into a unified framework.

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your time here?

I hope to help drive our team to a complete, robust pilot implementation of our AI-driven option listings framework through meaningful and meticulous code development, experimentation, testing, and documentation.  Specifically, I hope to collaboratively validate and deploy our framework’s clustering and error analysis frameworks, as well as help to advance our framework’s prediction and control frameworks. 

Your advice for interns next year:

A few things:

  • First, don’t be afraid to ask questions – no question is too simple to ask, and you’ll contribute more to your team if you’re on the same page with the other members of your team. 
  • Second, volunteer for assignments when you can, particularly the ones that interest you.
  • Third, which ties in with the former, try not to take on more than you can handle, and try to budget more time for completing deliverables than you think you need.  According to Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong, it will, and it’s beneficial for both you and your team to budget time in for these unexpected blocks. 
  • Fourth, check in with your team frequently.  One aspect of this internship program that I’ve appreciated immensely has been our team’s daily stand-ups, which are just quick, daily check-ins that ensure our team is on the same page every day.
  • Fifth, get to know the people you work with not just as coworkers, but as people too.  It’ll make your team stronger, and it’ll make your day-to-day work more fun too!

Good luck – you’re going to do amazing things!

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Lyanne Alfaro


Lyanne is a producer, host and social media strategist at Nasdaq. Her team helps reimage the way Nasdaq tells stories about Nasdaq’s role in the future of technology via video, podcasting and social content. You can find her on social media @LyanneAlfaro

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