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The Unforgettable CA Internship Experience – Learning Beyond the Classroom

Anna Mikhailenko, Claire Yegian, Isaac Teo, Commerce Architects' Summer Interns, 2023

An amazing internship provides a valuable learning experience. It prepares students to enter their industry in ways the college experience cannot. And that is exactly what CA provided for us. The Commerce Architects (CA) internship program was nothing short of enjoyable! As interns, Claire, Isaac, and I (Anna) quickly learned that the CA internship provides every single attribute of a practical and enjoyable experience. We were provided with a fantastic industry learning experience and a chance to make a difference.

Anna Mikhailenko

Everyone at CA is super friendly and supportive! Whenever we had questions, we could freely and comfortably approach anyone in the office with our questions and chat. We always had someone who could answer our questions, whether it was questions about career, code, or office. Occasionally someone would also check on us and our project progress. During these conversations, there were countless times when just talking through the project, we would find areas for improvement and discuss the best strategies for these improvements. Though blockers in our project were inevitable, we always had someone supporting us and pointing us in the right direction. These people taught us to think critically and outside the box. Though they never gave us outright solutions, with their guidance, we could always come up with solutions ourselves.

Claire Yegian

The culture at CA is amazing! It gives a sense of inclusion and motivation. Anyone within the company, from the CEO to the newest hire, can chat with anyone. During breaks, the topics can range from the favorite Smash Bros. character to the best place to order lunch. During work hours, many conversation topics revolve around projects, cool libraries, and discussions about solutions and best practices. Everyone is involved and feels included. This inclusion also provides a sense of community and motivation. It is hard to stay motivated when you hit one blocker after another and when you are working alone. However, the CA culture provides the much-needed motivation for people to persevere through those blockers and allows them to stay excited about the projects they are working on. This motivation also reflects on productivity. Additionally, CA makes a great effort to host various company bonding events, from volunteering to clean the river to going out for drinks and appetizers after work. Interns are always invited and included, which helped us build relationships within the company and get a taste of what working at CA as full-time employees might look like. As summer interns, we were also lucky enough to be working for CA during Work from Spokane Week, a week when everyone who works fully remotely travels to Spokane for a whole assortment of company bonding activities like biking the Route of the Hiawatha in Idaho, attending team-specific dinners, and coming together for company-provided breakfast and lunch. CA’s company bonding efforts created a fun and inclusive company culture that welcomed us, even as short-term employees.

Isaac Teo

The support system and incredible culture aside, CA’s

internship program has been an enormous learning

experience for all three of us. In school, you learn the fundamental tools—how to speak the computer’s language and use it to direct the computer—but not necessarily how to start from scratch with just a goal or find and learn the tools to achieve it. School assignments teach you the building blocks, but this internship taught us how to put those blocks together to achieve a complex goal. We learned how to use and apply software engineering-specific tools and languages such as AWS, Infrastructure as Code, and app-building tools like React and Node.js. We also learned general industry tools such as Git/GitLab, Jira, agile development, and taking advantage of language-specific libraries. Furthermore, we utilized real-world job tools like Slack and Google Calendar, which is more complicated than we thought! Finally, we learned and practiced skills for building workplace relationships, managing our time remotely or in the office, and knowing when to ask our co-workers for help or when to research something ourselves. By providing us with our own project, CA encouraged autodidacticism and responsibility, allowing us to learn and practice our new skills, which would have been impossible to learn in a classroom setting.

During the 10-week timeframe, we designed and created a practical and functional project that the company can use. We learned and utilized many new(to us) resources, including React, Amazon Web Services (AWS), DynamoDB, and Lambdas. The project we were assigned, a Planning Poker web application, was sufficiently challenging while also achievable. The application aims to set difficulty points for each ticket in the agile development process. Knowing that we were building something productive and useful for the company was motivating. In addition, we were exposed to previous intern projects, so we could see those projects in action and get an idea of how ours would be used. We could then use those projects as references to design our project. We are so glad that we were given a chance to work on our own project as opposed to working on an existing one. It allowed us to learn from each other, make mistakes, and learn from them without being afraid to break a current project. At the same time, our co-workers, including some previous interns, were always willing to make architectural suggestions, remind us of coding standards, or generally nudge us in the right direction.


CA offered us a fantastic internship. Having supportive co-workers taught us many communication skills and that we can go further if we ask instead of struggling alone. The amazing culture provided us with an immersive and enjoyable experience. The intern project taught us many technical skills and allowed us to contribute to the company. CA allowed us to learn skills beyond the classroom and prepared us to enter the industry in a way that even college-level classes never could.

1 Comment

Aug 26, 2023

I agree with everything Anna, Claire, and Isaac have said about the Commerce Architects Team. As a previous intern there myself, CA provides the perfect blend of 'challenging yet attainable' internship experience that really makes you feel like you've grown in the profession. I am very fortunate to have stumbled upon them in my college days (which are still quite recent)...

"Everyone at CA is super friendly and supportive!"

I'm quoting this sentence just to further emphasize the point of the amazing team at Commerce Architects! Honored to be their Padawan :) And they made me love AWS.

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