There are plenty of misconceptions about what’s involved in hiring an intern and the potential value they provide. Wellington’s two annual internship programmes – Summer of Tech (for tech interns) and Summer of Biz (for HR and marketing internships) – have proved that hiring interns is an amazing way to foster top local talent, get fresh new perspectives in your team and produce innovative work.
We asked some loyal employers to share their experiences hiring interns through the SoT and SoB programmes:
Stu Innes - emhTrade
Briefly, what does your company do? At emhTrade we are enabling a better power society. We do this through technology, building platforms that help people use cleaner, cheaper or more locally sourced power according to their personal preferences, and at the same time helping the supply chain cut the cost of infrastructure by reducing peaks and having more engaged consumers. Or put another way, we're building the Airbnb of consumer-owned electricity assets.
Why did you decide to take on a Summer of Tech/Summer of Biz intern? We had a few reasons. I think mainly it was the fact that we've found it hard to find really good developers here in New Zealand. We decided to try and change our strategy a bit by hiring people that we could train really well. Once we were involved in the scheme though, we came across so many enthusiastic and skilled candidates that we actually ended up creating another internship for someone specifically in addition to those we'd planned.
What tasks or project did they work on?
This varied across our interns. All of them contributed to valuable projects and have all left long-lasting additions to the code-base. We had interns across Data Science, Social Media/Comms, and Quality Assurance.
What value would you say they added? All of our interns were at a different stage in their education and careers. One of them was a grad and has since become a permanent employee. The main thing that we saw was just raw enthusiasm. This needed to be directed and guided but really added a great buzz to the teams that they were working with. All of them completed their internship by wrapping up a project with clear deliverables that were of value to the business and within the capabilities of the intern (albeit with some growth on their part). It's also fair to say that having talented, but relatively inexperienced people join our teams, that we were forced to up our own internal comms game to a certain extent. Lifting this bar a bit continues to deliver value for us.
Would you encourage other businesses to sign up for an intern? Why? Yes, for sure. It was the first time that we've done it and we'll endeavour to do so again. The opportunity to find people that are passionate about learning new things and bringing that passion and enthusiasm to work every day on the complex problems that we face is something that shouldn't be forgone. It's also a great way to do our part as good corporate citizens to ensure people are given the opportunity to learn the skills and gain the experience that isn't in the tertiary curriculum.
Jeremy Gold - ikeGPS
Briefly, what does your company do? We help our customers measure assets that are difficult to access by providing IKE 4 - a specialised Android device that we have designed and built. The IKE 4 includes a GPS, Laser distance meter, Inertial Measurement Unit, and a Digital Camera, and is combined with our IKE Office Cloud solution. This enables our customers to take photographs of their assets (typically Utility Poles), and then we use Photogrammetry to help them measure items of interest within these photos.
Why did you decide to take on a Summer of Tech intern? We have taken on a Summer of Tech intern several times now, and have found it very useful every time - We always have ideas or projects in our development backlog that are tough for the development team to make time for, and Summer of Tech interns provide a way to jump start these projects and make some great progress. It's also a great opportunity for us to get to know students who will be entering the job market soon and to help raise awareness of our organisation as a great place to work in Wellington.
What tasks or project did they work on? Last summer our intern, Chris Rabe, worked on a range of improvements to our IKE Office Cloud solution. Initially, he developed a new exporter that allowed our system to integrate with AutoCAD, an industry standard tool used by many of our customers. He also spent some time analysing and generating reports showing usage patterns for our devices, which helped us gain a better understanding of our customer's needs, and also provided valuable proof points for our sales team to demonstrate to new customers that many other people are using our products. Finally, he developed a Dashboard system that provided individual customers with project management reports demonstrating how effectively they were using our devices.
What value would you say they added? Chris added a tremendous amount of value over the summer, not only by developing a number of features that we had wanted to implement but also providing some of our developers with opportunities to learn and grow by moving into more of a mentoring role.
Would you encourage other Wellington businesses to sign up for an intern? Why? Definitely, we have found all of our interns extremely capable and have enjoyed having them on the team. The Summer of Tech (SoT) process is awesome. Recruitment is tough at the best of times and SoT makes it very straightforward to get in touch with a large number of potential candidates, and quickly whittle it down to the ones that will best fit the roles available. There is also financial assistance available through Callaghan Innovation in some instances, so the costs to your organisation are minimal.
Shelley-Maree Cassidy - ServiceIQ
Briefly, what does your company do? At ServiceIQ we arrange on-job training for employees of service sector businesses and organisations.
Why did you decide to take on a Summer of Tech or Summer of Biz intern? We saw that Summer of Tech had launched their sister programme, Summer of Biz, and thought it would be great to have a marketing intern to assist one of our clients with their marketing efforts.
What tasks or project did they work on? They helped with activities such as revising social media pages and creating content. They also were devising and implementing initiatives to increase social media traffic and interaction on the social platform.
What value would you say they added? They added a lot of value – the project would not have happened without them, so it was great to have them on board.
Would you encourage other businesses to sign up for an intern? Why? Yes absolutely, it’s a great way to get your ‘nice to do’ projects up and running!
If you would like to find out more about hiring a Summer of Tech or Summer of Biz intern they are holding their Wellington Employer Launch event next Tuesday 15 May from 5:30-7:00pm. This will be a great opportunity to chat with past employers, meet the team and ask questions about the programme, over a drink and a bite to eat. RSVP for this here.