In mid-June, OnlineNW hired full-time summer intern AJ (Alexander) Zoch in partnership with MEDP’s Career Bound program.

AJ is a 2020 McMinnville High School graduate who describes himself as a tech fanatic, a software enthusiast, and a downright engineer-y guy. Throughout high school, he spent time participating in the EASA (Engineering Aerospace Science Academy) program where he describes designing projects for competition showings at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. These projects included a hoverboard as well as a tree de-bagging tool to help farmers, that he and his team built in partnership with a local plant nursery.

Just before AJ graduated from McMinnville High School, a teacher emailed him about the MEDP (McMinnville Economic Development Partnership) program and he thought it sounded like a good opportunity to gain valuable work experience during an uncertain time. Knowing the job would be unconventional considering COVID precautions, as well as the all-encompassing nature of the internship, he stepped into unfamiliar territory and sent in a resume. After a video call interview with OnlineNW CEO Kathy Tate, COO Eric Yeaple and Facility Manager Bruce Budeau, he was promptly invited to intern at OnlineNW over the summer.

AJ’s position was interesting, because he shadowed every hands-on department at the office, from the field technician group to the fiber optics crew. AJ says that his favorite department was the field tech group because he got to see how the internet is hard-wired into locations such as towers and network rooms. Alternatively, he also worked with the fiber crew, digging and filling trenches to deploy fiber infrastructure underground. He noted the spirited energy of the team and the contrast of their work environment in comparison to the field tech group; “It got very muddy very quickly.” He said. Reflecting on the dynamic nature of the experience, he praised all teams for their ability to work cohesively, even in vastly different fields. “Each team was like a pillar,” he explained. “When one thing changes, it has a domino effect through the entire company.” He observed OnlineNW’s culture as described by Eric, as being rooted in trust and supported by hiring based on character traits such as discipline, collaboration, and curiosity. This intrinsic system defined AJ’s unique intern experience throughout the summer.

Moving forward, AJ plans to attend Chemeketa Community College where he will pursue a degree in software engineering. With widespread interests varying from video games to music and computers, AJ aspires to one day have his own business with a dynamic team to explore new software horizons. Until then, he has his eyes set on an energetic, tech-focused career with abundant hands-on opportunities.

OnlineNW is proud to work with MEDP, especially to welcome an intern during an especially unorthodox time. We believe that widespread adversities are no match for innovative communities and look forward to future opportunities to invite creative learners like AJ to our team.