So the persistence in communication and self-advocacy for meaningful work in my internship has been paying off. In addition to the valuable skills that I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn during this time, I was finally able to work out a good “capstone project” for my supervisor that would be meaningful to me and for the company as well.
Due to language barriers (basically, me not speaking good enough Mandarin to work in a Chinese company, yet working in a Chinese company anyways), it was difficult to really learn about what direction my department is trying to go in and figure out the ways in which I am equipped to help and meaningfully contribute to it. However, language barrier or not, I feel like this is probably one of the most common hurdles in any internship!
The project itself is both interesting and closely related to my area of study at the University of Michigan. My company (ViewFin) is a financial technology company that specializes in the areas of blockchain and cryptocurrency. They have developed a successful blockchain (with it’s own native currency) called Metaverse, they offer personalized services to other businesses that utilize the Metaverse blockchain, and they are now expanding by developing and offering a cryptocurrency exchange platform (which, of course, features the Metaverse token ETP) and services/products related to that platform.
Part of the company’s mission is to further global adoption of cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets, as they believe that this technology offers the opportunity to do a lot of good in human society (such as by increasing transparency in various social institutions, expanding access to financial systems, etc). To this end, the project that I found is to develop a recommendation system for users of ViewFin’s cryptocurrency exchange which encourages further use of the platform while also helping to expand awareness of (and investment in) lesser-known profitable cryptocurrency projects! The recommendation system will largely be based on those used for movie recommendations based on other users’ movie ratings (specifically, the collaborative filtering approach), but the key to skewing the system towards profitable and yet lesser known currencies will lie in the way in which we calculate the user’s “rating” for each currency.
In general terms, I’m writing the algorithm to determine a measure not only of how profitable a currency is perceived to be, but also how strongly that those investing in the currency “believe in it” – the theory being that people who invest in lesser-known currencies do so with consideration to profit-potential (of course), but also with significantly higher consideration to their belief in the “mission” of the blockchain project that the cryptocurrency supports, as compared to more conventional investments in currencies like Bitcoin or Litecoin or something. The hope is that, by recommending these smart and strongly-believed-in investments alongside more conventional ones (by skewing the “rating” system we use towards these investments), we can support the interests of the user, ourselves, and the larger hopes that people have for this technology, all at the same time.
In short, this has turned into by far the best possible experience I could have hoped for 🙂 If there is one thing that living and working in China has taught me so far, it’s that the connections we share with one another are among the most important in life. They make everything possible, from friendship, to help when it’s needed, to closer and better collaboration in the workplace. Of course, this is probably common knowledge that I had to come all the way to the other side of the world to learn, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.
Maybe nobody will see this, especially considering how long this post has become… But I am truly grateful for the support I’ve had from my Michigan family – those that I know and have worked with to make this experience possible, and those who have provided such meaningful support to Michigan students like me, despite never having met them before or even knowing who they “are”. I will talk about this more in my next post, but you people have helped me change my life forever, and have supported me so meaningfully towards achieving my dreams. Thank you.