REI Insights

Finding Your SPARK as an REI Intern
September 13, 2022

Author: Cameron Gupta

With the Covid-19 pandemic slowing down many students are eager to get real-world experience working in a formal company. REI offers many internships for students interested in the technology industry, but internship opportunities are not exclusively for college students. An REI internship offers valuable experience to anyone interested in working in the technology industry.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with several members from REI Systems’ 2022 summer intern cohort:

  • Adham Popal, technical intern
  • Grant Sweeney, technical intern
  • Arya Ganesan, artificial intelligence and machine learning intern
  • Sital Luitel, artificial intelligence and machine learning intern
  • Sai Singamsetty, data scientist and analytics intern
  • Ali Mirzaeian, data scientist

Each intern offered a different perspective on their experience, but the common thread throughout my conversations was how REI has ignited their “spark” for working in the technology industry.

When you think of technology many automatically say Google, Amazon, and Apple, but most college grads don’t immediately think of Government Contracting as a potential career in technology. The reviews are in and as their internship comes to an end, I spoke with each intern about their experience, what they’ve learned, challenges they overcome, and if they would consider a career in Government Contracting moving forward. Many wonder what the experience of an REI intern is filled with and why it is so positive.

Ali Mirzaeian is a prime example of the inclusivity that REI values. A professor at UVA, Mirzaeian grew interested in “testing this industry”. His experience has been so positive that he has decided to take a break from teaching at the university, opting instead to accept a full-time position at REI.

The transition from an academic to a professional atmosphere can be daunting for many. Sital Luitel, an AI and Machine Learning intern, expected “a cold and corporate environment.” Similarly, Sai Singamsetty thought the internship might have “a very rigid and professional atmosphere.” In the end, however, the welcoming and friendly environment put that assumption to rest. In particular, Sai noted that “everyone was so kind and welcoming [that] it changed my mindset about the corporate environment.” As an intern, I completely agree with how patient and cooperative each and every employee has been.

Leadership as an REI Intern

REI focuses heavily on leadership and teamwork, and the company values learning from mishaps and mistakes. Arya Ganesan, an AI and Machine Learning intern, explains how there is “the right balance of having help and taking risks and figuring things out on your own.” Similarly, Singamsetty explains that the leads in her project group provide “a lot of creative freedom, offer advice, and give suggestions, but are also very open-minded.” REI excels at nurturing a positive, open-minded attitude that provides its interns with opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them.

Enhancements Across the Enterprise

In addition to fostering a lighthearted and supportive environment, REI has mastered the balance of working hybrid. Offering in-person socials, lunches, and escape rooms, the company also allows interns and employees to work remotely, which has taught a valuable lesson in time management for both Arya Ganesan and Ali Mirzaeian. The very flexible work schedule allows employees to work in their own time and in an environment where they feel the most comfortable. Ali explains that working “hybrid has helped my time management because I work on my own time and focus more on the output rather than the number of hours I’m working.” Similarly, Arya argues that “working in a remote setting, oftentimes you have big goals, so making smaller goals and sticking with them allows you to manage your time efficiently.”

Along with learning how to manage time in a professional setting, Adham Popal credits his internship at REI with helping him learn “how to be a better researcher, solve problems through research and put solutions down better.” Other lessons include improving public speaking skills, as Sital Luitel notes that she has gained confidence when speaking to her colleagues and other employees. She greatly enjoys the people she works with, collaborating and sharing ideas, making it easy to engage and remain interested. She describes working on her project team as having “three minds connected.”

The SPARK ignited during one’s internship experience at REI is invaluable in providing a positive segue into professional endeavors. Grant Sweeny explains that working on different projects as a team and collaborating with other interns and colleagues has allowed him to “make connections into the real world.” His passion for working in a technology company has only grown since working at REI, where being Reliable, Effective, and Innovative accurately reflects the intern’s experience. Interning at REI has personally raised my standards for working professionally. Through the thought-provoking conversations I had with the year’s summer interns, I took away:

  • The importance of being dependable and confident in yourself
  • Making mistakes at a professional level is encouraged and working in a corporate environment does not equate to giving up your creativity
  • Collaboration is the key to success


REI is hiring at all entry levels, check out our open positions online here.