A glimpse into Riverlane’s internship programme

At Riverlane, we offer start-up work experience through our internship scheme. Bringing a fresh set of skills and enthusiasm to the team, our interns have proved invaluable. Shirui Lu, a Cambridge Mathematics student, now in her fourth year, was one of four interns who joined Riverlane last summer. Here, she shares her experience and discusses how the internship shaped her career plans.

Shirui’s main motivation for joining Riverlane was to gain experience in a real working environment. Her studies had given her a grounding in topics related to Riverlane’s work, such as quantum mechanics and statistical physics. She was interested in applying that knowledge to cutting edge research problems in quantum computing. After conducting some initial research on the company, completing an application, and attending an interview, Shirui joined the team in July 2019 for 10 weeks.

Shirui and her fellow interns were given options for projects to work on and, with guidance from the Riverlane team, chose a project that best matched their area of interest and skill set. Shirui’s internship focused on techniques for error mitigation in Variational-Quantum-Eigensolver and their implementation, and the project expanded into new areas of research inspired by these initial investigations.

When discussing her project, she commented, “I enjoyed being able to use some of my knowledge of quantum computing and improving on it, using python to build up circuits, and testing for errors. Being able to work with an experienced tech team helped me to learn quickly.”

The internship rapidly proved to be mutually beneficial. Once Shirui had completed all her original objectives, she then helped drive the project in a new direction, laying groundwork for investigations that are still ongoing at Riverlane. Shirui also remarked on the level of support she received during her time in the company, “I felt really well supported as I had a supervisor, Dan Underwood, who worked alongside me on my projects. If I had any technical questions, the team were always happy to help.” Dan commented, “I was impressed by Shirui’s ability to quickly build an understanding of this complex project, getting up to speed with the relevant aspects of quantum information, computational chemistry, programming and software development.”

As the 10 weeks drew to a close, Shirui presented the key ideas and results of her project to researchers and fellow students at an event held by the Cambridge Mathematics Placement Programme: “I gave a short presentation to my university department, ‘Quantum Computing in 15 minutes’ – some of the Riverlane team even came along to support me on the day . It really boosted my confidence”

The internship experience has shaped Shirui’s ideas about the future. “I always knew I wanted to continue my studies and do a PhD, but I wasn’t yet sure of the topic. Now I know I want to study quantum computing further as it’s something that really excites me.”

Interested in finding out more? We have just launched our internship programme for next year. Click here for details and how to apply.