Signify supports our interns
Currently, Signify has permanently hired six interns from our programme—four graduates are employed as software developers and two as test analysts.
We talked to Signify’s Managing Director Mike Walczak about the organisation and what drives his ongoing support for newcomers to the IT industry. Mike first heard about the Master of Software Development programme through a contact at the Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.
What are the most rewarding aspects for you personally of the internship programme?
Giving keen people a chance to enter an industry which has been notoriously difficult to break into. Through this internship programme we are taking on board those who already have a discipline under their belt—they have learning experience and are specifically dedicated to this career path. It’s amazing watching them quickly grow into their IT career.
What is the difference between hiring a new employee and taking on an intern?
An experienced new employee often comes with pre-conceived ideas and habits, whereas a graduate has a more focused drive to learn. Graduates are essentially starting from scratch. They very quickly realise they don’t know as much as they thought they did, so it can be a humbling and enlightening experience for them.
What do you feel are the biggest advantages an internship offers graduates, as opposed to entering straight into the workforce?
The advantage of this internship programme is that it gives graduates a ‘soft entry’ into the workforce because they aren’t expected to be straight into client-facing or meet immediate deliverables. The expectations and client-facing opportunities come later towards the end of their time with us, so we can ensure they are prepared and trained accordingly. Experienced developers we hire are expected to be as useful as soon as possible and hit the ground running with customers.
What are some of the systems or approaches you’ve implemented in order to help interns adjust to the industry?
Firstly, we have an induction process driven by a workflow tool outlining tasks for interns to complete during their time at Signify. This covers everything from health and safety procedures through to security systems to ensure they have full training. This process has evolved over time with weekly and even daily tasks, so we can effectively structure their time with us. Secondly, graduates are teamed up with another developer as their mentor. More recently this has been an intern who has been employed, so it’s an excellent fit for them to share their experience and skills, and equally for the intern to gain confidence and see where the journey can lead to.
You seem to have created an excellent growth environment at Signify, and even a Dragons Den offering support and advice to upcoming businesses. Where does your personal drive come from to support industry newcomers?
I came from a rather structured banking environment, where it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed. So, I respect and have time for those who are determined and willing to work hard to commit to something.
The Master of Software Development programme is a conversion programme, where students often come from diverse backgrounds and skill sets. This is a key aspect that Signify recognises and values.
With previous careers under their belt, Peggy (2020 intern) and Nathan (2019 intern) selected the programme because of the chance to directly engage with industry, alongside the possibility of an internship. Both Peggy and Nathan successfully went on to full time employment at Signify.
Transitioning from the study programme to the internship, Peggy says the amount of learning was immense but rewarding and understanding the ‘real world’ process was a highlight.
“In reality people don’t write straight HTML or CSS, they use other tools. It’s not until you are in that environment professionally that you can truly grasp all the various parts of the ‘software development life-cycle’. It’s the people around you that really make the role great and there’s an excellent team here who have made it so easy for me to ask questions and continue to grow professionally.”
Not only did Nathan gain technical skills during this programme, but he also learnt and strengthened his soft skills.
“Stepping out of my comfort zone, both technically and in relationship management, and general communication has been a key strength I’ve gained. I’ve learnt a lot of industry specific practice, tools and techniques and have many opportunities to build on them and learn more. I am more open to trying new (and not so new) things depending on what is required to solve problems and meaningfully contribute.
“The learning doesn’t stop when you finish your study or get your piece of paper. Being open to continually learning and trying new things is a bit of a superpower coming into the industry.”
New Zealand owned and operated since 2004, Signify provides a broad suite of services - from consulting and design to delivery and ongoing support. They are a full-service digital development company providing full stack web and application development, including Data Migration and Application Deployment services.
If you want to partner with us to support our students though guest speaking, mentoring, providing projects or internships, please contact David (IAP programme) David.firstname.lastname@example.org