As a graduate intern, one always looks for opportunities that are challenging, engaging, impactful, and fun. My internship experience at C3.ai was a mix of all these, and more. Located at a picturesque office in Redwood City, the view from C3.ai is one of the best. You can see huge ships docking at the nearby port and stand mesmerized at the beautiful bay. Inside the doors, though, there is some very heavy lifting going on.
As part of the Applications Engineering team, I had the opportunity to work on rewarding problems, interesting questions, and more interesting answers. There is constant learning at C3.ai, in an environment that is carefully cultivated and encouraged that sets this company apart. The culture’s effects are easily noticeable in the high code standards and in the insistence on quality over quantity as a principle. One of the senior C3.ai engineers told me: “The idea is to write less code, not more.” That stuck with me.
Always on Your Toes
I worked on the alerts management hub and the notification functionality of C3.ai Tools. The project pushed me out of my comfort zone not only technically, but also socially: it helped me inculcate soft skills important for a successful career. I had the good fortune to be mentored by the most patient and engaging mentors, and to be a part of a team with senior engineers who always steered me in the right direction.
The project drove me deep into core C3.ai features, to utilize metrics, data flow events (DFEs), and analytics to trigger notifications on the relevant requirements. I developed an alert for queues (InvalidationQueues) that posed quite a challenge, so I consulted with different teams and departments to better understand specifications and the best implementation. Participating in challenging design sessions helped me understand the nuanced design decisions and the impact of optimized code at an enterprise scale of data. For instance, I learned that using a MapReduce job, while more difficult to write and understand, is preferable to writing a simple loop for scalability. I also dabbled with UI work. This was a bit exasperating at first, but the visual results were very gratifying: a full feature that will be a part of the upcoming releases of the product. That, I think I can say with surety, was the most rewarding part of my internship experience.
Culture: Ask and You Shall Receive
The amount of support I had was incredible. Truly owning the “open-desk” culture, any of us could walk up to anyone in the office for help. In fact, it is insisted upon; I was often told, “If you don’t ask questions, we assume you already know all the answers.” My learning did not stop there. I was very impressed with the weekly “Lunch and Learn” sessions, where every week a person presents a new thing they’ve learned, developed, or created. My team also had frequent outings and walks around the beautiful campus at Pacific Shores. I thoroughly enjoyed those walks.
Tom Siebel: Meeting the Man
Right at the beginning of my internship, I participated in an all-hands where Tom Siebel described his vision and the direction of C3.ai. Seeing for the first time the range of industrial applications that C3.ai supports, from inventory optimization for oil & gas, to predictive maintenance for defense and manufacturing, to fraud detection for banking, one can easily see the strength of the C3 AI Suite. Every employee interviews with Tom. His insistence on meeting every person working at C3.ai is quite impressive, one that he extends to interns. We had lunch with him, talked about the company, described our work, and provided feedback on how the internship experience could be improved. I'm very thankful he spent time with each of us, and I hope he takes our feedback to heart.
All Work and No Play?
The company had several team-building and intern events, my favorite of which was the bowling event. All of the new hires and interns paired up with their mentors to compete. I even got a strike while bowling through between my legs! How can I fail to mention the weekend Napa engineering wine trip? A whole day of songs and wine. It can’t get better than that. The mystery escape room event was also very entertaining. The interns grouped together against the mentors and we had a great competition. Of course, we interns won. Did I mention the happy hour?
Now, as I wrap up my work, I remember all the new things I learned, my accomplishments that I didn’t think were even possible, and all of the fun I had, I know I’ll miss the fantastic people I met here the most. My journey as an intern at C3.ai was truly a meaningful and rewarding experience. I guess it’s back to class for now...