The Wealthfront Engineering Intern Program: not all internships are built the same…

Universities excel at preparing students for their coming careers through foundational teaching. To complement this, Wealthfront seeks students who are motivated to gain professional experience before graduation by working as a software engineer within our 12 week summer internship program. 

Why intern at Wealthfront?

As described in a recent blog post about the new college graduate (NCG) experience at Wealthfront, the culture at Wealthfront centers around continuous learning, innovation, and quality-driven software development. The things that make Wealthfront the ideal environment for launching a software engineering career after graduation, also make it ideal for learning from before graduation:

  • An emphasis on quality software. Wealthfront upholds three fundamental tenets of software quality: reliability in production, maintainability for the future, and observability in case of failure. Interns experience the details of all of these through working on Wealthfront’s top-tier software that earned our clients half a billion dollars in interest this year. Our software automates the management of tens of billions of dollars of client assets, which means correctness is paramount.
  • A commitment to learning. At Wealthfront, internships start with the same comprehensive onboarding that introduces all new hire engineers to Wealthfront and our codebase. Why does a 12 week internship require so much learning up front? Because at Wealthfront interns deliver projects that run in production and provide real business value. Learnings about what it takes to build software which runs reliably in production complement academic studies well, and those learnings likely give interns new perspectives on their university coursework.
  • A commitment to mentorship. Every intern at Wealthfront receives a mentor who is there to give guidance and make sure that they have all that they need throughout their summer to be successful. Each intern becomes a member of their mentor’s team and in practice learns from all their teammates, not just their mentors.
  • Small teams, big impact. With 120 engineers Wealthfront is big enough and mature enough to follow established processes using established methodologies, while small enough to avoid the overhead of keeping the efforts of hundreds or thousands of engineers organized. With Wealthfront’s focus on providing NCGs outsized growth opportunities, interns find themselves fitting right in as they deliver impact to the business through delivery of their chosen intern project. The learnings from this are invaluable and will be desired by future prospective employers.

How does Wealthfront’s intern program work exactly?

To support different school schedules, Wealthfront’s 12 week engineering intern program is split into a May cohort and a June cohort. Each cohort is kept small so that the total number of interns is kept small, at 5 or 10 summer interns total within engineering.

As previously mentioned, a key aspect of the Wealthfront engineering intern program is an investment in learning. This starts with structured functional onboarding, such as Modern Java, which is a comprehensive Wealthfront-internal course that we created to introduce new backend engineers to the Wealthfront codebase and patterns used within it. This course is led by Wealthfront engineers and it is designed to be done in community with other new hire engineers. Upon completion, engineers find themselves comfortable within the Wealthfront codebase and ready to be productive in writing their own production code.

After this and other introductory onboarding activities, interns are distributed around engineering with each intern joining the team of their mentor. Each mentor helps their intern get settled and set up with a primary intern project of their own for the summer. Intern project context is shared, and the intern works on designing a solution with support from their mentor and team. This leads to the intern authoring a Design Doc, followed by implementation led by the intern. The summer wraps up with interns presenting their projects to the company, each including an overview of their learnings along with the value of their project to Wealthfront.

Finally, it is common for many summer interns to sign on as a permanent employee and return after graduation to launch their career. They become intern mentors themselves and the cycle continues.

What have Wealthfront interns worked on in the past?

After increasing our number of ETFs offered to several hundred, we needed a way to provide to users current “top holdings” information for each ETF. As her summer intern project, Monica Gan implemented a system for retrieving ETF holdings data daily from a 3rd party API, storing it, calculating the top 10 holdings by weight for each ETF, and providing a retrieval API. Her project included evaluation of different APIs available, new integration with the chosen one, new database schema plus associated persistence code, and the implementation of a new daily job with full monitoring to ensure that current and accurate data is always available. To this day, Monica’s implementation provides the holdings information which is shown within the Wealthfront website and mobile apps for each ETF. After graduation Monica joined Wealthfront permanently and she now works as a software engineer within our Brokerage Infrastructure team.

As her summer intern project, Jessica Chao contributed to her team’s efforts to add fractional shares support to Wealthront. Jessica’s work focused on adding tooling, monitoring, and reporting across two areas related to the fractional shares implementation: (1) inventory balance management, which is keeping track of the fractional share of a security that Wealthfront must hold in order for the sum of all shares of that security at Wealthfront to sum to a whole number; and (2) net capital requirements management, which relates to ensuring that Wealthfront always meets its regulatory requirements as a broker-dealer. After graduation Jessica joined Wealthfront permanently and she now works as a software engineer within our Brokerage Products team.

The addition of Stock Investing to Wealthfront brought about the need for an internal tool for managing Wealthfront’s population of stocks and their groupings into “stock collections” of related securities, along with categorization of those collections. As his summer intern project, Chris Long created a user interface for this management within Wealthfront’s internal tools web application. Chris’ implementation included programming of the UI components, as well as implementing the backend APIs which interact with the database entities. The tool includes a three-tier authorization scheme, limiting access to view only or category modification only, and enabling full collection/stock modification. This tool is still used internally to keep stocks organized so that they can be discovered effectively by Wealthfront users within our apps. After graduation Chris joined Wealthfront permanently and he now works as a software engineer within our Brokerage Infrastructure team.

Wealthfront and you

Are you ready to invest in yourself and your coming career through a Wealthfront engineering internship? Come learn from working within the Wealthfront codebase and experience how Wealthfront engineering builds our top-tier software solutions. Come experience and learn how Wealthfront focuses on continuous learning, innovation, and quality-driven software development.


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