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Helping the younger me – Summer of Tech

I’d like to think of myself as quite a worldly developer having had roles working across the UK and New Zealand, and I keep up with what’s happening in the US, Europe and Australia through good friends.

This exposure lets you experience the best (and the worst) of what each market offers. There is, however, one overriding theme in a lot of tech markets that I’ve worked in: people.

People form the backbone of our work in technology and the shortage of skilled and capable IT workers has been palpable everywhere I’ve worked so far. There’s a continuous hiring blitz that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Just look at the fall out from Google and Facebook constantly battling over staff.

I think there’s a collective responsibility among technicians/developers/testers/IT business owners to address this tiny runway of new talent entering the job market (otherwise we’ll never be able to take a breather). Part of this process has to be addressing the skill and attitude gap between academia and employment.

Some universities will credit work experience toward gaining a degree in software engineering – a technique that works for other engineering disciplines. But ICT really is a multi-skilled industry. For instance we need people with all kinds of skill-sets, from design to testing and from business analysis to development. There needs to be a whole host of people with skills ready to come on board as our companies grow. For this to happen tertiary courses really need to take work experience seriously. Why shouldn’t a design course require some kind of industry experience as part of course credits? Why should the non-engineering courses put less of a focus on actually getting employed?

I think, however, things are heading in the right direction in Wellington (home of Xero HQ) where a number of start-up companies established the Summer of Tech internship scheme (we’ve mentioned it on the blog before).

The scheme itself gives students a great kick start into their careers, allowing them to build some great skills and networks to help them to become really valuable members of the local IT community. More importantly for us it creates a whole selection of graduates who are ready to become valuable parts of the tech workforce straight out of university.

Summer of Tech allows students some critical advantages:

  • Work experience (the obvious headline one)
  • Professional training  (students are offered literally hours of free courses and bootcamps to hone their skills before interviewing for a job)
  • Summer seminars (even once in a job, these weekly seminars encourage professional development)
  • Networking  (more opportunities to meet employers and employees than you can shake a stick at. Often in this industry Who you know is as important as What you know)

Summer of Tech is really important to me personally, I would have loved to have had such an opportunity when I was entering the work force, especially with the kind of companies that support it.

So ask yourself what can I do to help the younger you… and go and do it!

Oh and if you’re in Wellington come along to the next Summer Seminar, they’re free.


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