My journey to a Summer of Tech internship
Written by Phoebe Rolfe, ACC Intern
I’m currently writing this blog post from Victoria University’s student accommodation two weeks into an internship with ACC. Considering I usually live in Auckland and have a Business and Arts degree background, I couldn’t have imagined at the start of 2018 that I would be interning in a tech role in another city.
But this is why I felt the need to write a blog post about my experience with Summer of Tech, as when I was applying it felt like no one else was applying for jobs outside of their own city, and no one else was coming from a non-technical background. For those of you in the same boat as I was, this story is for you.
I’m currently studying Business and Arts at the University of Auckland, but for a long time I have wanted to somehow apply these skills to technology – whether that was through a particular role, company, or industry. As I started looking for internships at the beginning of my third year in 2018, I had no idea how to accomplish this, but when I saw ads for Summer of Tech online, I thought it was worth a shot. I knew that many of the jobs would probably be wanting someone with more technical expertise, but it was free to apply and there was no harm in trying.
SoT gives you pretty constant reminders about signing up and completing your profile, but do make sure you finish everything as early as possible. You think you’ll have time later but something always comes up, and you’ll want to start applying for jobs and events as soon as they’re available.
Up until a month before the Auckland Meet & Greet, I hadn’t even considered applying for jobs in other cities. Although there were a few jobs I could apply for, the majority looked for developer or design experience, and that wasn’t the kind of internship I was looking for. Out of curiosity, I started to look at job listings for the rest of the country, and found that Wellington had a lot more internships that I was interested in.
It seemed like a pretty crazy decision at the time, but that same afternoon I booked flights to Wellington to attend the Meet & Greet event there. If travelling to another city for a day just isn’t possible, there are still ways that you can engage with internships in other areas. Another option is to write a cover letter that a Summer of Tech representative will take to the M&G night on your behalf. It will vary from person to person, but for me going there in person was what I wanted to do. I know in previous years, students have been successful at getting offers in other cities without ever going there in person. It is possible!
You can only apply for a maximum of ten roles through the Summer of Tech website, so I ended up applying for a few roles in each city. It doesn’t seem like many, but even that was difficult to manage on the M&G nights. I attended in both Auckland and Wellington, and prepared for each role by listing a few points about the company, the particular internship, and how I could apply my skills to it. I took this with me to the event and before speaking with each company I would look at my notes to make sure it was fresh in my mind. The Meet & Greets are pretty crazy and you will be waiting in a lot of queues to speak with company representatives, but you quickly get in a rhythm and most employers as just as overwhelmed as you are by being there (if that helps calm your nerves).
I attended one speed interview with an Auckland company, but the majority of my interviews were done via Skype with Wellington companies. I had made it quite clear during the M&G that I lived in Auckland but was able to relocate for the summer, and no companies had a problem interviewing me digitally. They all contacted me separately from the speed interviews, though the timing of this varied by company: some interviewed me before the speed interviews took place, while others interviewed me at the end.
ACC was one of the companies that had stood out to me at the Wellington M&G, so I was absolutely thrilled to get an offer from them. I flew down to Wellington after my exams for the year had finished, and moved into Victoria University’s student accommodation (open to other students during the summer). I’m currently an intern in ACC’s Release and Deployment team, and am thoroughly enjoying the experience so far. I’m utilising my Business and Arts skills but able to apply them in a technical context, which is what I had wanted all along. I’m so glad that I decided to take the chance and start applying for Wellington roles, and I’m thankful for Summer of Tech for facilitating the whole process. I highly encourage anyone on the fence about applying for next year’s programme to absolutely get involved, even if you feel like there won’t be jobs for you. You might find yourself spending the summer in a new city like I did!