This is a guest post by Koshy John, who was an intern during Summer of Code 09 and Summer of Tech 2010:

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,, 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:

Kiwibank Finder (Windows Phone 7)

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

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.

On Friday 3 December, Rowan Simpson explained why many of the things that you think you know about what it takes to start and grow a technology company are wrong, why most of the successful companies and entrepreneurs that you read about in the media can’t teach you much about your startup, and some of the counterintuitive lessons that you should be paying attention to as you try and get a new idea off the ground.

There’s this mythical startup model that involves a lone hero having a “eureka moment” in a shed. Next thing, they’re inundated with customers, the business grows, is sold to an investor for a gazillion $, and the inventor retires happily to the beach (with a boat & beemer parked nearby).  Time for some mythbusting:

Startup Lessons with Rowan Simpson from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.

On Friday 17 December, Nat Torkington talked about how to get a job, how to keep a job, when to get the next job, what a career path looks like, and what your choices are. And who said you *have* to grow up anyway?

WARNING: this is the uncut and unbleeped version.  Nat’s speaking style is direct and sweary.  We like it that way, but if you have sensitive ears… consider yourself warned!

No matter what stage of your IT professional development you’re at, for some straight talking insight & advice on career paths, watch this:

What do you want to do when you grow up? with Nat Torkington from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.

On Friday 10 December, Stu Sharpe, Technical Director at Sidhe Interactive wowed us with some demos, gave an update on the games industry in 2010 and set out a step-by-step pathway to becoming a great game developer.

No matter what stage of your career you’re at, if you want to know what makes a great game developer, watch this:

What Makes a Great Game Developer with Stu Sharpe from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.

On 21 January 2011, Francois Marier tackled the topic

Open Source – What? Why? How??

…as part of our Xero Summer Seminar Series.

Francois has kindly made his slides available for download, which is highly recommended for anyone wanting to get started on Open Source projects.  Here ya go:

Francois PDF (it’s approx 16MB of pdf)