My Internship at ORFIUM

Why did I want to do another internship?

After interning last summer and another year of studying, I was looking forward to getting my hands on more practical matters in the orientation I wanted my career to take, which is AI Research.

So, after finishing my studies, I felt like I wanted to put all of the knowledge I just acquired to the test against real-world problems. During my early professional steps, I feel it is important to handle a wide variety of issues and learn to work with different kinds of people. It’s not just enough to do the job, I want to be able to find the equilibrium of work-life balance.

Okay, but why intern at ORFIUM?

In my previous internship, I worked for an already scaled company that dealt with generic software engineering issues. This gave me a solid understanding of the life of an engineer. I was ready for something different. I wanted to learn at a still rapidly scaling company and have a more specific role.

Before the internship, Pantelis Vikatos, head of the Research Team, and I discussed the possible projects I could help and learn from, to make them fit both my interests and the company’s goals.

As an intern, I wanted to have the chance to apply what I’ve learned from my studies and previous working experiences. At the same time, I would love to actually contribute to a company such as ORFIUM. Seeing the passion that the people that were already working here have, motivated me further and allowed me to actually realize the value of the task at hand.

My AI and research background, in combination with the open-minded, free culture of the music industry and especially ORFIUM, was just the right match.

So, how was interning at ORFIUM? 

Not being a first-time intern, I had a realistic outlook on the whole process. This time I wanted to go a step forward and contribute even more however I could. I was ready to take on even more responsibilities and do the best I could to put my skills to the test, creating a win-win scenario for both the company and me.

At the end of the day, I understood that getting the job done was not the only goal. Being as efficient and working clean while also adding to a good working environment for my colleagues and me was exactly what I was expecting from myself and the company.

And was ORFIUM a good place to intern?

Being an intern at ORFIUM surely exceeded my expectations.

From the first moments and interactions, I realized that I was in a friendly and open environment. This made the whole process flow smoothly. Everyone was there to help or answer whatever questions I had.

The company provided whatever I needed to work on a professional level in terms of equipment and infrastructure. I was given my own laptop and peripherals, as well as instructions to get my job done easily. Virtual machines and online resources were being managed and given by experts internally in order to provide whatever was needed.

This way, the internship kicked off in the best way possible. I was entrusted to lead my project my way and have my own pace without anyone doubting me to handle my responsibilities. This was enough to let me know that not only was I in an open-minded environment but my voice was also heard. 

What did I actually do at ORFIUM?

The project I was assigned to was to replicate the work done at the paper with the title “Self-supervised Video Retrieval Transformer Network”, creating a video matching mechanism.

The main objective was to answer the question: “Can we extract a probability score for video pair match?”.

The motivation behind this question was the observation of a high number of near-duplicate videos online. We would like to be able to find similar videos, which could be re-uploads, piracy content etc.

The workflow can be described as:

  1. Common state-of-the-art approaches
  2. Model Architectures
  3. Evaluation Methods
  4. Proposed Method
  5. Documentation of online sources on:
    1. State-of-the-art literature
    2. Public datasets
  6. Implementation of a Video – visual transformers deep learning model
  7. Training & Evaluation of the proposed model

After a few modifications and a lot of questions, the results were good enough to be able to deliver the trained model and the evaluations.

At that point, having completed the basic goal of my internship, I researched the extension possibilities. I also made a presentation to the rest of the team where I presented my work, explaining the process and demonstrating the results.

So, what did I learn?

After finishing my internship, I think back and reflect on the various experiences and lessons I had during these three months. There is no comparison between the practical applications on a company level and the experience in a university semester. 

First of all, I had the opportunity to see how a scaling company like ORFIUM operates. I learned about the different hierarchy of the teams and departments, their roles and responsibilities, and the processes and workflows. I experienced hands-on how a project is planned, how it is split into simple tasks and how different teams collaborate to accomplish these tasks.

Also, I had the opportunity to talk and collaborate with teams internal and external from ORFIUM. I saw, first-hand, professional experts and the way they work. We established international communications in order to handle specific matters. 

Industry-wise, I was gently introduced to the basic concepts of the music industry. I had the chance to see the variety of the different challenges that it faces. To be honest, it was even more rich and interesting than what I had imagined.

Working on my project, I learned how to start and plan a research project and how to organize my work so that I do things faster and better as a professional. I practiced more on things that I was already familiar with, and I learned a lot by asking questions about everything I thought I knew. Wrapping up my project, I learned how to produce something well documented and reusable and how to present my work to my teammates in a structured way in order to achieve company-level awareness and leave my mark.

What was the best part of the internship?

If I had to choose something I liked the most out of my experience being an intern at ORFIUM, that would be the human-centric culture they bring to the table. The easy-going but focused way of working really allows people to feel free and do the best of their efforts to contribute.

Overall, I felt like I was accepted and trusted. The project was “tailored” to my interests, and my supervisors were there to help me with whatever I needed. The constant team urge to do activities in and out of the working environment made the whole experience feel like it was not just an internship.

What are the next steps, post-internship?

My thoughts now that I’m almost done with my internship are only positive. I am going to accumulate all the experiences, the lessons learned, the people that I met and collaborated with and all the good memories in order to finish whatever is pending at my university and be able to contribute even more in the future. Hopefully, after that, I can come back to help ORFIUM scale even more along my personal growth. 🙂

Giannis Prokopiou

Data scientist intern – Research Team @ ORFIUM