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WelTec students excel in Grow Wellington - Summer of Tech

2 April 2012

WelTec students excel in the Grow Wellington - Summer of Tech initiative

When Jody Bullen of Yonix took on WelTec students Ian Somerville and Samuel Haktka as interns through the Summer of Tech scheme, he got a lot more than he bargained for.

Mr Bullen was apprehensive about using interns but because he likes to promote local talent and because there’s the opportunity of getting projects done that had possibly been on the backburner, he saw good synergies in the scheme.

“There’s an investment you put into people, especially when they’re only coming in for a couple of weeks. And finding a self-managing task they can work on is not easy,” Mr Bullen says.

In this case, though, far from being a backburner job, the students ended up doing something that is critical to the Yonix product.

Bachelor of IT students Ian Somerville and Samuel Haktka both knew this was a great opportunity and made the most of it.

“We were put into Yonix at the same time and assigned to the same task,” says Ian. “There was a lot of research and bringing things together and making sure they worked.

“The language we worked with at Yonix was C Sharp. We’d covered Java and C++ in our course but it was not too difficult making the step to C Sharp.”

For 20-year-old Samuel Haktka the internship convinced him that he had chosen the right course.

“I’ve told everyone since working with Yonix that it proved to me I’m studying the right thing, career wise.”

“It was great to experience in the real world at Yonix what I’m studying towards at WelTec. If I get the opportunity to do it again I’ll gladly do it,” Sam says.

Summer of Tech, an internship scheme through Grow Wellington, provides an opportunity for students to be introduced to start-up businesses or businesses requiring additional assistance over the summer break.

“It’s an opportunity for us to expose our students to the rest of the world while at the same time assisting companies with student labour for their projects,” says WelTec head of School of IT Ian Hunter.

Summer of Tech has been operating for six years now and founder John Clegg says that last year they had some 60 students placed in about 40 companies.

The organisation has lists on-line of profiles of students. Companies post projects on their website and the types of skills they’re after and John Clegg’s people go through a matchmaking process with them.

“The cool thing is that two out three students get to work for the company they’ve been interning for after that period, and about another 10 per cent go to another company within the programme.”

John Clegg says many companies are now using Summer of Tech strategically to hire graduates.

Yonix, part of the business incubator that Wellington Regional Council has set up to encourage fledgling and fast-growth businesses, is one of those companies.

“Initially I asked Ian and Sam for a prototype, that’s what I was expecting out of the two weeks. A very rough prototype that shows we can do a task, how easy is it going to be to do, and that gives some idea on scope and timing for a larger project.

“They had a working prototype done in just three days,” Jody says with delight.

Impressed with what the two had produced Mr Bullen moved them into a more serious role.

“We gave them both a task that was a critical area for our business and a strategic leap forward for us if we could offer it.

“I just can’t speak too highly of the valuable job Ian and Sam did for us. They did it really quickly and got a working prototype done. Once we got to that point I actually started giving them access to the code base of the software. And they began incorporating it into the product.

“Again it took the two about another three days to get that sorted out and over the two weeks they got it to the point where we had a working alpha version to show people and start testing.

“We’re now about to release the product. It was a very impressive effort. Ian and Sam gave us a great leap forward in having some surety around what it is that we’re doing.

“We were stoked with the students’ output. The students were a credit to WelTec. They worked really hard, delivered good work and delivered us some really big business value.”

So stoked was Jody Bullen and so impressed with the students’ work that he has taken Ian Somerville on for the entire summer under an internship scheme with the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

“We secured a grant which enabled us to have one intern. So Ian joined us for the entire summer, he carried on working on the features that he had been working on but he also helped start on other developments. Sam too gets called in when extra help is needed.’

Jody is hoping that by the time Ian has finished his degree, Yonix will be in a position to be able to take him on full time.

ENDS

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