Spotlight: Product intern Yitang Chen

Anna Burge
Anna Burge21-Aug-2023

As part of our Spotlight series, we caught up with one of our product interns, Yitang Chen.

Spotlight: Product intern Yitang Chen

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a soon-to-be fourth-year Computing student at Imperial College. I am originally from China and this is my second year in the UK. I am very passionate about functional programming and maintain several Haskell (and OCaml) side projects. I enjoy football, history, linguistics, and a select few anime in my spare time.

Why did you choose to intern at Artificial?

The major attraction that this position at Artificial has offered me is the use of Haskell as the main programming language. I have been an avid Haskell programmer since university, and it is a relatively rare language in the industry. Additionally, the flexibility of work location has proven to suit my working style very well (currently speaking from Swansea!). Therefore, when I first learned about this opportunity, it became my first choice without hesitation.

How have you found it so far?

It is always a pleasure to work with what you love. Being able to program functionally in my career is a dream come true, especially when surrounded by top-class experts. Additionally, I have thoroughly enjoyed the exquisite coffee machine at the office, even though I never quite learned how to operate it. Moreover, the remote work setting has allowed me to savour the sea breeze in the summers of Wales every weekend. As the internship draws to a close, I genuinely wish I had more time here.

Can you tell us a bit about the main project you’re working on?

I work on Artificial's algorithmic underwriting platform. My primary focus is on the Haskell back-end, which involves the interpreter of our DSL and various internal systems that support the front-end user journey. Additionally, I occasionally work on the front-end, usually directly related to a new feature recently implemented in the back-end.

What is your favourite part about working at Artificial so far?

I believe the most valuable experience I gained was building a full-stack application using Haskell, which encompassed working with APIs, databases, and HTMX generation. During my university studies, we primarily focused on software development patterns for object-oriented programming. However, here at work, I've had the opportunity to acquire invaluable experience hard to obtain in an academic setting. While the learning curve was steeper, I came to recognise the inherent advantages of a strongly typed functional language, which significantly enhances the robustness of the system.

What is something unexpected that you have learned while at the company?

Before joining Artificial, I thought I knew Haskell moderately well, but the work opened a door to a vast world of uncharted territory with numerous language extensions and industrial libraries. Now I can do things that I wouldn't have thought possible half a year ago! Additionally, everything I learned about the insurance industry is a surprise to me because I knew so little about it.

What do you hope to do when your internship finishes?

I will continue to explore functional programming in the industry since it is my passion. After my final year at the College, I don't have a concrete career plan yet, but I will be happy to start my career in the UK, potentially coming back to Artificial!

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