Not many people have the opportunity to intern at Microsoft, but Amifa Raj did! She was encouraged to apply after meeting her future internship manager at the TREC Conference, which Amifa co-organizes. Amifa had the fantastic opportunity to work in person at Microsoft in Bellevue, Washington, as an Applied Scientist Intern with the WebXt Search and Distribution team.
“The project I worked on during my internship is analyzing demographic group-based query reformulation in Bing. The purpose of this project is to address social and ethical issues while designing search engines.” Amifa analyzed user behavior, search results, and types of queries to identify user intention behind their use of demographic group information while reformulating their queries and how this analysis can aid in designing information retrieval systems that better understand user demand. The study consists of both qualitative analysis, such as observing demographic group representation in search results, and quantitative analysis, including topic and temporal analysis. As Amifa has gone through the Computing Ph.D. program, she has been able to develop expertise in recommender and information retrieval systems, as well as become more knowledgeable about fairness and bias issues that exist in information access systems. “This internship helped me to connect with more individuals in these areas with similar goals and visions. I heard many experiences from people who made an impact at tech companies through their research work and dedication. Their journey motivated me to work towards my career goal.”
Throughout her internship experience with Microsoft, Amifa was able to find support and create connections with those in her field of interest, as well as garner feedback about her work. She has been advised by Michael Ekstrand at Boise State, working towards her Ph.D. in Computing with an emphasis in Computer Science. Amifa plans to graduate in 2023 with her Ph.D. and will apply for a research-focused job to learn more and gain additional experience.