My internship at C3 AI has been a period of immense professional and technical growth. I have had the opportunity to work with smart, hard-working people who valued my input, and having the opportunity to intern under the unique role of Forward Deployed Engineer (FDE) has helped me grow as both a technical engineer and as a customer-facing professional. Below are a few lessons and highlights from my experience:

The Value of Soft Skills in a Technical Role

Like in any other software engineering internship, I was able to utilize and improve upon my technical skills. What I did not expect, however, was that relationship-building and communication skills would be as invaluable as my technical skills. In my main project, I had the opportunity to help design the underlying data model, give feedback on the product specification, and build custom UI components for an application that would be saving the Services organizations thousands of non-billable hours per year. In order to effectively do my work, I had to build technical trust with my project manager, communicate with many internal stakeholders to find their pain points and take their input, and present the application to departmental leadership. While I found that skills learned in “Introduction to Programming” were applicable, I came to realize that the skills I learned in classes like “Business Negotiation” and “Communicating with Data” were also valuable in my project and further enriched my internship experience.

Interesting and Meaningful Work

As an FDE intern, I had the opportunity to work on several customer projects throughout my time. From energy management and inventory optimization to customer relationship management, each customer’s unique use case opened my eyes to various types of businesses and taught me to focus on the relationship between business pain points and how C3 AI can bring value to customers. It was extremely rewarding to see what I build have an impact on interesting customer problems.

Collaboration in a “Flat” Organization

Due to the nature of my main internship project, I communicated with many C3 AI stakeholders, from engineers to project managers to departmental leadership. No matter their position, every single person I met with at C3 AI treated me as a peer. I have a hard time imagining I will meet a more friendly and open group of people in my career. In fact, everyone was open to getting coffee or going on walks around the office campus to talk about things beyond my project, and I was able to gain insights about the company, careers, and the industry including data science, products, and marketing. In our intern lunch with the CEO of C3 AI, Tom Siebel, we had the opportunity to hear about his vision for C3 AI, and he took the time to ask us for feedback about our experience at C3 AI.


Looking back, I am grateful for my internship experience and I will undoubtedly be translating lessons learned well into my career. C3 AI’s internship program has been the perfect place for me to learn the ropes of a software company and expand my understanding of other industries. I am honored to have worked with such friendly and intelligent people and I look forward to seeing C3 AI continue to grow and succeed.

Maddy Li interned with our Forward Deployed Engineering team in Redwood City. Maddy is currently a Senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) studying mathematics and urban planning with computer science. When not working, Maddy enjoys writing jokes, reading self-help while ignoring the advice, and hiking.