St. Olaf College | News

High-tech internship leads to long-term career plans

Congyuan “Billy” Ji’s internship with VoiceIt Technologies has enabled him to work on cutting-edge technology — and land a full-time job with the company.

Forget about passwords or codes. Forget about even fingerprints or retinal scans.

If the technology that St. Olaf College student Congyuan “Billy” Ji ’15 is working on takes off, a person’s voice may one day hold the key to unlocking secure systems.

This semester Ji is interning at VoiceIt Technologies, a company that has created a high-technology security system using multi-layered voiceprints templates.

Ji’s work at VoiceIt Technologies focuses on analyzing voice biometrics tests for a performance report, which will be sent to clients. Essentially, he’s looking at whether the technology recognizes all the variables of a person’s voice. With data from more than 200 users, he is testing the technology’s success by creating a matrix for false positive and false negative tests.

The possibilities for the use of VoiceIt’s security system are endless. From Moodle to the CIA, all that would be needed to gain access to personal files is a person’s voice.

“Any website could use this system. If Google uses it, for example, we could log into our Gmail account through voice,” says Ji.

As a native Chinese speaker, he translates documents such as manuals and reports for the Chinese market. He also designs pricing charts for the company website using his Photoshop skills, which he acquired through his love for photography.

“I’m excited about working for VoiceIt because it allows me to work in different fields and use my knowledge outside my courses,” says Ji.

Through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, Ji arranged to receive academic credit for his job at VoiceIt Technologies. He worked with St. Olaf Associate Professor of Economics and Department Chair Anthony Becker to bring an academic framework to his experience.

As part of the college’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center offers numerous resources to help students secure internships that will enrich their studies and help them hone their professional skills. Last year 151 students earned academic credit for their internships. In addition to providing students with the ability to register their internships for academic credit, the Piper Center offers students funding for unpaid or underpaid internships.

Ji is majoring in mathematics and economics and earning a concentration in statistics at St. Olaf. His internship at VoiceIt Technologies embodies his interests by tying statistics and mathematics to the overall economic status of the company.

“I really enjoy the small business atmosphere of VoiceIt Technologies. I have gotten to know all of my co-workers and I have a great relationship with my boss,” says Ji.

Ji plans to work at VoiceIt Technologies after he graduates. His first task will likely be testing and analyzing data under different environments, such as different languages. He expects to be more focused on his economics and marketing skills once the company has finished the data analysis.