Having never attended an internship program, I started my C3 AI Internship journey with a high level of excitement and great expectations. After completing 12 intensive weeks as an intern, I am proud to say that the Ascend Internship program definitely did not disappoint. My excitement was matched by my manager’s enthusiasm in making sure I always made an impact in every task I completed as a Software Engineering intern at C3 AI. The following is a list of the key takeaways from my internship experience and the lessons I learned from them:

You are only limited by your curiosity

At C3 AI, the opportunities are endless. Engineers are given the freedom to take on any challenge they find exciting and are given tickets based on their specific interests. Since C3 AI creates customer-centric applications, it is very important to understand the problem the specific application is trying to solve. Often, engineers find themselves building components for applications, unaware of its use case. This limits the capabilities and functionality of the component. It is an engineer’s duty to understand the use case and build a component that helps solve the problem even if it extends the specification of the specific component. This was a practice that was clearly followed by C3 AI Engineers and cultivating this habit helped me grow as an engineer.

I was a member of the software engineering intern team that was tasked with building a complete C3 application with tremendous customer impact. As part of the AI application development team, it was very important for me to understand who the target customer is, what problem he/she is trying to solve when using the application, and what features/specifications need to be added to solve the problem in the most efficient manner. This forced me to become more familiar with how different industrial segments work. This is what I love about working at C3 AI – you are constantly learning, not only about new technologies but also about the several industries C3 AI caters to.

Recognition led to motivation

An intern’s biggest fear is to be treated differently, to be considered an ‘outsider’, and given tasks that have a low impact. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this intern-employee division was not present at C3 AI. The collaborative culture at C3 AI creates an environment where employees respect each other’s opinions and are invested in each other’s success. Interns are treated as full-time employees and the only thing that differentiates interns from the rest of the company is our badge color. This surprising level of recognition and respect motivated interns to work longer hours and make an impact on the C3 AI Application suite. The word ‘impact’ is a very common word used amongst managers at C3 AI and rightly so. With any bug, every fix we made was immediately reflected on the applications that C3 AI deploys to its clients.

Help is always available; it is your job to ask for it

C3 AI prides itself on the collaborative environment it fosters. Almost every wall on each floor has a whiteboard where engineers can draw out ideas and plans for future or in-progress products. Since every member of a specific team has a common goal, everyone on your team has your back and is invested in your success. This collaborative team culture leads to a positive work environment, more efficient solutions, and an overall streamlined development process.

I started my internship journey unaware of common technologies used amongst software engineers at the industry level. But after just a few weeks working alongside skilled engineers, I am now familiar with version control and the processes related to continuous integration and deployment. Additionally, the rigorous code review process C3 AI has in place has given me an insight into the best practices of software engineering and has helped me become a better programmer.

The Buddy, Mentor, and Manager triangle of support

Every intern has three main points of contact for help and support throughout the internship: a buddy, a mentor, and a manager; both the mentor and buddy are part of the same team that the intern is hired by. The main differentiator between the three is their rank in the company: a buddy is normally a software engineer, the mentor is a senior engineer, and a manager is a team lead. My mentor was a constant pillar of support for me throughout the internship, always willing to help me with my tickets and taking the time to teach me the key skills that are required to grow as a software engineer. My buddy, on the other hand, was a person I could always approach with any problem that I had regardless of its context. A buddy is meant to give an intern insight into what it’s like to be a full-time engineer at C3 AI. Additionally, my manager was always actively making sure that I was given tasks that were impactful and related to my fields of interest and expertise. He constantly motivated me to take on challenges and gave me insights into what characteristics managers look for when promoting software engineers.

Conclusion

All in all, I can safely say that this internship has taught me more about software engineering than I could have ever expected. I learned the important difference between “working code” and “production-level code”, and now appreciate the power of collaboration and clear communication. C3 AI is a fast-growing company that fosters rapid career growth and truly emphasizes employee impact. The way the C3 AI suite solves enterprise problems is truly unique, and incredibly fast and efficient. I am extremely grateful for my rewarding experience as an intern at C3 AI and am thankful for everyone who has made my internship experience a memorable one.

Vishaal Kumar interned with our Forward Deployed Engineering team in Redwood City. Vishaal studies at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Networked & Social Systems Engineering. He is originally from India, but was born and raised in Dubai. When not working, Vishaal enjoys watching soccer and going to the gym.