A group of 20 people, a few with drinks in their hands, gathered together and smiling on a balcony in an urban setting.

FlexiTime Summer of Tech interns.

There’s no doubt that FlexiTime founder Robert Owen is big on hiring Summer of Tech interns and grads — and for good reason.

Over the last nine years, he’s brought in 15 interns and graduates. Last summer alone FlexiTime was one of 59 Wellington organisations that took a total of 262 interns and graduates.

“We’re a strong believer in Summer of Tech — our interns and grads have proven invaluable, especially in a talent-short market,” says Rob.

The company creates workforce management solutions for businesses, employees, and contractors. Products include online payroll, timesheets, invoicing, and rostering software.

Rob is proud of the fact that his entire dev team consists of Summer of Tech alumni. Most of whom have helped to build FlexiTime’s four successful apps from scratch.

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Talented interns stay put

“We’ve got people who have been here seven, eight years, who started out as grads and that’s unusual in today’s market, especially in tech,” Rob says.

From small beginnings in 2008, FlexiTime’s repertoire now includes:

  • PayHero, payroll software that helps businesses pay employees
  • contractor work app Karmly
  • rostering software Droppah, and
  • Invoxy for recruitment agencies.

The company has also gone from 20 customers in its first year and a team of two, to 24 staff and more than 6,000 customers globally.

Armed with a degree in engineering himself, Rob is well aware that young people who are into coding are super talented, which is why tapping into Summer of Tech resources is a no-brainer.

“I started developing when I was 11, and I sold my first gaming software to a small shop in Palmerston North when I was 12,” says Rob. “For me, I know that if I can get young people who are into computers and coding on board, then I will get very talented people who can do a great job, and I can be flexible enough to work with their schedules.”

He’s been proven right.

“Our investment in our interns has paid massive dividends very quickly — we start to see a return on the mentoring and training we give them easily by the end of a three-month internship.”

Robert Owen
A group of ten people sit and smile together on a exterior patio in an urban setting.

“The people we get are incredible, their skill level is amazing and while I’ve done a lot of coding and seen a lot of processes during my time as a developer, the cool thing is we go on a learning journey together because they also help me to pick up new technologies.”

It’s not unusual for Rob to throw interns and grads in the deep end, nor is it uncommon for them to work as full-stack developers.

“Usually they’ll gravitate to one particular area of the stack, be it front end or back end, but here they get to do the whole lot, the database side, API middle layer, design of the front end… That way they get to see problems they can encounter throughout the entire process and they get to see the customer reaction at the end for the work they’ve done.”

“I have complete faith in them. They need some framework and expectations, but they come up with really cool stuff and take ownership of the projects.”

Robert Owen
Three happy interns standing together in a modern office kitchen.

Interns reap rewards

Former intern Keely Haskett mostly works on fixing bugs and new app features.

“One of the highlights was getting thrown directly into the deep end rebuilding the AI algorithm our product Droppah uses to generate smart rosters. The project required a lot of skill development on my end, and a significant amount of research and trial and error,” she explains. “But the day my Droppah project got released, seeing the code I poured my soul into for four months get used by customers was such a special feeling, I’ll never forget that!”

Keely’s colleague Gina Murphy started her internship five years ago and now, as a full-time developer, finds herself welcoming new interns and showing them the ropes.

“Moving into more of a mentorship role for the new interns coming through was a moment that showed me how far I had come as a developer," she says. “I remember my first project as an intern, to build an integration with Xero Payroll which seemed so far out of my ability at the time, but it was incredibly rewarding to complete and being trusted with such a sizeable project from the get-go was a real confidence boost.”

Both Gina and Keely say any business would benefit from interns.

“It gives them a unique perspective that can be very valuable to businesses willing to adapt and take on board their fresh ideas and opinions,” says Gina.

They’re always super eager to work, usually stoked to have a job and are often very hard workers who are keen to learn as much as they can, says Keely.

“Fresh grads are the future of the industry, and with the right guidance early on, we can ensure positive growth going forward.”