Speaker Notes from Internapalooza 2017

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of being able to attend Internapalooza, a large gathering of interns in the Bay Area. While definitely not a flawless event (see my recommendations at the bottom, it was definitely worth checking out!
It started out with a Q&A with one of my favorite influencers, Naval Ravikant, followed by Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. In the middle were some not-so-great speakers, but there was a strong finish with a Q&A with Andrew Ng. My notes from the three named speakers above are below followed by some of my recommendations for the event.

Speaker Notes

Naval Ravikant:

  • What you work on is more important than how you work on it
  • Don’t let anyone control you, don’t try to live up to anyone else’s expectations, don’t be afraid to change your mind
  • Deep understanding of the basics will take you farther than just the specifics of just one thing
  • Be the hero of your own movie
  • Reframe setbacks as growth opportunities

Drew Houston:

  • Ask for responsibility, take initiative
  • Compound your learning
    • Learn to learn
    • Always find opportunities for learning
    • Ask people to book recommendations, things to learn
    • Take the path that optimizes for learning
    • Throw yourself into the deep end
    • Run towards the discomfort
  • Networking pays off in ways you can’t expect

Andrew Ng:

  • Follow good mentors
  • Be wary of joining a company that won’t tell you your team/boss until after you sign
  • Read papers and try to replicate state of the art results
  • Have a significant project
  • AI is the new electricity, every industry will be changed
  • Healthcare, education most promising/underhyped
  • Transfer learning interesting, GANs, RL as well
  • Most economic value in supervised learning
  • Large companies have advantage for larger verticals (search, etc) bc of larger datasets
  • More specific verticals super viable for startups, can form data accumulation loop
  • Go to San Francisco or Beijing
  • Don’t necessarily need advanced degree, company experience fine as long as you learn, increasingly more based on what you can do
  • Be a lifelong learner


There are three things I would change to improve Internapalooza (besides removing the ‘a’ in the middle of the name).

Make it a premium event. Because it was free, I don’t think most attendees gave the speakers the respect they deserved. If it was paid, there would have been a smaller but much more engaged audience. I felt that there were far too many people there for the space anyways. At times it was hard to even walk around without pushing your way through.┬áIn addition, it would have been nice to have food there since the event occurred during dinner time. I understand that this was not possible because of financial reasons, and this is yet another reason to sell paid tickets.

Having company booths there felt like an afterthought. It seemed to have been pitched to us as a career fair-type event, but resumes were not allowed and the experience from booth to booth was very inconsistent. Some were taking names, some were just there to provide information, and some were demoing their tech. It’s as if companies were not told what to expect as well.

The speakers who were sandwiched in between the keynotes seemed not to have prepared very much for it. As a result, their presentations were boring at best. At one point, a speaker started to pitch us his startup as if we were a crowd of VCs. Know your audience!

Although, overall, it was definitely worth going to just for the three speakers I took notes for and I look forward to seeing what it becomes in the future.