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Koordinates intern success

By Ruth
August 4 2016

Posted in Employer Stories

Hosting interns can be a GREAT experience for growing companies.  You don’t need a huge HR team or recruitment budget, you just need the capacity to mentor & support a new team member… oh, and a desk for them to sit at & a project to work on!

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Koordinates are another growing NZ team that have jumped on board with interns! In 2015, Harriet wrote this awesome blog post about what it was like to intern with their Auckland team. Success for came from a supportive environment, and the freedom to ask questions!

It’s really important for employers to realise that for students, working with any production codebase, even that of a small company, can be overwhelming!

Last summer, Matthieu joined the Koordinates team for the summer.  Here’s his story:

After three years of work experience as product manager in France, I decided to leave for a new country and a new challenge. I had been doing some programming for several years but always as side projects and “just for fun”. Arriving in a new country, far from my personal and work environment, made me realise that I was ready to convert that passion into a work project. I decided to get enrolled into a one year / full time programme at the University of Auckland (Graduate Diploma in Computer Science). The idea was to review the fundamentals (algorithms, data structures, testing) and tackle more advanced topics (artificial intelligence, functional programming, etc.).
Based on my previous experience in France, I knew that one of the biggest challenges while studying is to create links with the companies you like and potentially want to join. Your objective should be to have at least 4 or 5 companies that you can apply to, without going through their “normal” application process (posting an anonymous CV on their career website) but by sending emails to people you have met and discussed opportunities with already.
When I heard about Summer of Tech, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to do that. Indeed, the concept of the workshops have at least three great advantages:
– you meet people from the companies you like and can start building your network
– you learn more about their technology stack and get an amazing competitive advantage over other people for your future interviews
– you learn about cool topics from a work perspective (can be quite different from the University perspective)
Once you have been to a workshop or have browsed the offers on the SoT website, you have only done half of the job. The next step is to get interested in what your target companies do. When I came to the “speed dating” event for SoT (employers and applicants meet in short 5 minutes sessions), I had already played with Koordinates’ website for one of my personal projects on data visualisation. I was happy to meet the people behind a product I had been using and I liked. Everything was then natural and the conversation was more about the product, the company and how my experience could fit in the company than a full discussion on me. First, it is less intimidating and second it is also much more interesting for you in the perspective of identifying the perfect match for your first internship / job.
If, as a company, you think that you are ready to host interns, you are probably right because the only things you need is a spare laptop and a motivated mentor. That person will have to dedicate a few hours a week to train a junior employee with limited work experience but also with great enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Of course that person will lose productivity at the beginning, but it might also be an interesting way to improve the management skills of that person and prepare him or her for future responsibilities. For the entire company, this also brings a different point of view and probably something refreshing for the team.
At Koordinates, we decided right from the beginning that I was going to work on a specific project and that I would develop a new feature for the Koordinates application. This was something clear for everybody and avoided having to spend too much time working on multiple project designs, plans, etc. This is definitely something I would recommend. I was quite lucky to get involved with an experienced team with highly knowledgeable people like Koordinates: each of my coworkers are experts in their domain. Koordinates is also a growing company with a track record of success but also a lot of exciting challenges and objectives ahead of us.
My Intern Project
I worked on developing a new download format for the geospatial data we have on koordinates.com and the sites powered by our application. This means that you can get beautiful maps – with their geospatial data – in a simple PDF. Maps can be printed, shared, and accessed by everyone, removing the need for any GIS (Geographic Information System) application or expertise. You can learn more about it on Koordinates’ blog here.
To summarise, I really think that SoT is a win-win program for students and companies. Get involved, try it and I am 100% sure that you will see all the benefits you can take from such a dynamic program. Last but not least, the lovely and competent team of SoT always make things easy for everybody.
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