Looking Back: Summer of Tech (NZ)
What Other Companies Don't Want You to Know
Last published on Dec 27, 2018 by Koshy John

Prologue: This post was originally published some time in 2010-11 on the Summer of Tech website and has been reproduced verbatim. My career was in its infancy then, and to this day, I'm grateful for the doors that opened for me through that program. If it weren't for the path that took me to Microsoft, I'd likely be in New Zealand right now immersed in it's vibrant tech scene and more concretely giving back to this amazing service to students and the tech industry there.

For posterity, here's a pic from the SoT wrap party with all the Kiwibank interns and mentors:

If you are an employer in Wellington, and have never heard of the Summer of Tech or think that university students are unlikely to contribute substantially to your business, you are about to be let in on a big ‘open’ secret that 40 other Wellington companies would prefer you didn’t know.

A little bit about me first: I am a M.E. student at VUW 6 months away from completing my thesis. A multibillion dollar IT company had offered me a permanent position a whole year before I completed my undergraduate degree (I opted to do my Masters). I maintain my own software in my spare time and they have been downloaded over 680,000 times so far. I am currently the primary Microsoft Student Partner at Victoria, and I also lead a Microsoft Imagine Cup ’11 NZ Top 20 finalist team, BookSpark.org, mentored by Microsoft and Intergen employees. More about me.

In 2009, I was hired by Optimal Workshop through the SoT to work on their usability tools. I helped redesign their database and came up with a viable migration scheme, aside from improving application security and troubleshooting hard to reproduce errors.

In 2010, I was hired by Kiwibank and became the first developer there to target the new Windows Phone 7 platform in the form of a geolocation application to help customers find the nearest Kiwibank locations. You can watch a video of it in action here.

Both companies were very happy with my performance and I would have continued on at either place if not for my pressing academic commitments.

If you participated in Summer of Tech in 2009 or ’10, you’d have had a pretty good shot at hiring me and/or many other candidates like me. It would have cost you a trivial sum of money, given you access to the most driven tertiary students in Wellington today, created substantial value for your company and left you with a big smile on your face. Like several of the companies that participated, you may have even gone on to hire your intern(s) full time afterwards.

If you think hiring students would cost you a lot in way of training, your fears are misplaced – SoT students are highly self-motivated (that should be apparent from the fact that they give up their summer vacations to get ahead in their career). They soak up new information quickly and on their own when merely pointed in the right direction. They also receive preparatory training from industry experts during the year before they actually turn up at your door.

The Summer of Tech programme has given students like me so much and created so much value for employers in Wellington that it would be a shame if more in the community didn’t realize its value earlier.

If you aren’t convinced that you need to participate in the Summer of Tech, please remember that even the brightest stars in your organization had to start somewhere – it makes a lot of sense to catch them young so that you don’t have to pay the price later.

[I’d like to acknowledge John Clegg and Ruth McDavitt (from SoT), Andrew Mayfield and Sam Ng (from Optimal Workshop), and, Tony Kennedy and Justin Crawshay (from Kiwibank) for the wonderful opportunities that I got over the summers of ’09 and ‘10.]

Learn more about Summer of Tech (New Zealand)

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