An RBC Summer 2020: COVID Edition

Mikhail Szugalew
3 min readOct 15, 2020

So. How about the pandemic eh?

If you went back to summer 2019 and told me some replicating nucleic acids would spread across the globe and change society, I would have been as confused as a cat on the moon.

Fast forward to March and it happened. One day I was preparing to fly to San Fransisco to attend TensorFlow DevSummit. The next thing I knew, the event was moved online and my flights were canceled because of coronavirus precautions.

School closed for an extended 3-week march break. Then it closed for the rest of the school year. My last day of high school came and went without feeling any different from any other — I still haven’t had a graduation ceremony.

I said goodbye to prom and goodbye to having a normal senior year, but thankfully I did not have to say goodbye to having a great summer.

Thank you Royal Bank

While other companies were canceling their 2020 coop programs to deal with the uncertainty of the pandemic, RBC successfully moved their huge co-op program online so everyone could work from home while still having a great experience.

I was an Innovation Developer in the Summer Tech Labs program. It’s a 2 month paid internship for high school students and students going into first year university. There’s about 30 students in the program but we were divided into smaller teams to work on different projects.

Rebuilding the frontend of an internal website used by over 200 RBC developers

Showing up to work the first day and finding out your project will be to rebuild the frontend of a website from scratch using modern frameworks is just slightly intimidating. However, I soon became incredibly thankful to have such an amazing learning experience.

By the end of the summer our team completed 14 different pages and 33 components for the website. Doing so greatly improved my skills with Angular and team web development.

Soft Skills

This was my second time working in an Agile development environment. However, because we were working from home we had to be a lot more intentional about our collaboration. It really pushed me to develop my communication, organization, and collaboration skills.

We worked on weekly sprints. Communicated via slack, email, and webex. Presented at weekly demo days. Held daily standups. Did weekly retrospectives. And used Github for collaboration, version management, and documentation.

Learning Opportunities

Aside from working on our project, RBC had some great workshops and learning opportunities. We attended sessions about working from home, using Agile, exploring career paths, cloud computing, website design, and networking.

I have so many great memories from this summer and I can’t forget to thank some of the people who helped make it happen.

Thanks to Naomi Ing, Alexa Crerar, Karen Irvine, Meagan Filion and the rest of the program team for making the program possible and organizing some great workshops. Thanks to Samiul Haque, Anthony Vacca and the rest of the tech team for helping us with our project.

Lastly, but not least, thanks to all the students in the program who made it so great. Specifically, thanks to my team for sticking together as we dealt with all our frustrating bugs and being amazing to work with!

Final Thought

When I found out I would be working online this summer I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. Nonetheless, I went into it with the goal of making the best of it and it turned out to be a fantastic learning experience.

It’s important to recognize that if something happens in a way different from what you expected or wanted, it can still turn out great.