On the 4th of February 2011, we asked some of our SoT2010 interns to tell us what they’d been up to this summer.

First up: Cameron Fowler spent Summer of 2010 working as a code intern for Able Technology.  His projects included streetsalive.org.nz and a customisable store locator tool. 

Here’s the video of Cameron’s talk:

Intern Lightning Talk – Able Technology from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.

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, BookSpark.org, 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.

Due to popular demand, we are making some of our extremely cool, and extremely limited edition Summer of Tech Swag available for purchase.

Show your support for Summer of Tech, become the owner of a styley laptop bag!  These are high quality canvas bags, equipped with straps, buckles, pockets.  Charcoal Grey in colour.  SoT2010 Bags are available for the amazingly low price of NZ$50.00

To place your order, please email us

If you’re interested in a t-shirt, a cap or some retro Summer of Code gear (pre-2008 bags), we do have a very limited quantity of these collectors items available – please contact us to enquire about price & availability.

Following on from Rebecca Ray’s SoT Tips, here’s another guest post from SoC Alumni.  Raja Bhadury did SoC in 07/08 and 08/09.  Here’s his words of wisdom for SoT2010 students:

So, you’re in your second or third year at Uni, and not really thinking about getting a job or starting your career.  You have a wee bit of a ‘meh’ attitude at having to find a job during the middle of your semester and probably reckon that even if you don’t do anything about your career prospects right now, something will pleasantly fall into your lap. 

At least that’s what I thought before getting involved with Summer of Code.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the programme for summers ’07/08 and ’08/09. Over the past few years I’ve been working mainly with Ruby on Rails at ProjectX, as well as helping out with the SoTech programme.

If I had just one piece of advice, I’d say to keep in mind that what you do now will determine how your career begins.  The post-recession job market is incredibly competitive, especially those going into new/entry level jobs.  Keep in mind that Wellington is also a pretty tight-knit ICT/Technology space, so its not necessarily about whether or not you’re some kid-genius and have been in to your tech since intermediate, or about getting an A+ average.  Its about making connections, knowing people and having a positive, can-do attitude. 

With the latter, the onus is on you.  The former is what Summer of Tech is here to help you with.  You owe it to yourself to take every opportunity that the programme has to offer, whether it be networking at meet-ups or knowledge and practical skills at boot-camps.  Looking back, I wish I had attended more.  Remember, you are competing with all the students in your year in and around Wellington.  If you aren’t hungry enough, it shows.  It shows when you present a very average CV, despite having ample opportunity (and John’s vidoes/slides) to make sure your CV stands out.  It shows when you approach employers during meet and greets or even interviews and don’t have a clue about what their project is or what they do as a company.  And what you may not realise, is that it shows when you don’t attend boot-camps. In fact, going to boot camps and giving things a hands-on go can be the difference between you being recommended for a position with a late-to-sign-up company, even if you missed being matched to a company the first time round.

Job stuff is serious.  And yes, it can be scary.  But this is life.  Yours to be exact.  Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone a little.  Seize every beneficial opportunity that Summer of Tech has to offer.  And remember to make sure that you take up those drinks offered to you at meet and greets – nothing lubricates socially like a beer or two :) .  Good luck in SoTech 2010!

This is a guest post by Rebecca Ray:

First, some background (to give me some credibility!). I participated in Summer of Code in 2008 and 2009. The program has played a big role in improving and adding to my skills – and my confidence in them. I finished my degree at the end of 2009, and am currently working for a small open source company in Wellington.

Now, for the important part: Five Summer of Tech Tips:

1. Your Marks Aren’t All That Important
Companies will be paying more attention to your “soft skills” at this stage in the game than your marks or what industry-related skills you’ve gained. Focus your CV on your ability to learn, your commitment and determination, and the like. You’re being hired as an intern, the companies aren’t expecting 10 years experience and an expert in the field- they’re looking for someone who will be able to learn the material, who will contribute to the company, and who will work well with the team.

2. The Meet and Greet is the Most Important Part of the Process
The meet and greet is your best chance to make a lasting impression on potential employers and secure an interview. Do some research on the participating companies so you know who you most want to speak to – and be sure to search them out. If you don’t have a chance to speak to them on the night, contact them the next day. Make yourself memorable- there will be a lot more students than employers there- come up with something that will make an impression. Be it a funky (or geeky) piece of clothing, or an interesting story, find something to make yourself memorable. Just remember that being memorable means they’ll remember the bad as well as the good!

3. Remember You Only Have a Few Minutes in the Interviews
The one downside to Summer of Tech is the short interview times. You’ve made a good, lasting impression through your SoT profile, CV, and meet and greet- and now you only have a few minutes to seal the deal. Do some (more) research on the companies you have interviews with before the big day and think up some unique question. Be sure to get someone’s contact details at the end- and to follow up within the next day or two with any questions you have and a reaffirmation of your interest in the position.

4. Network, network, network
Getting a job is not the only point of Summer of Tech. The program is an excellent opportunity to meet people from all aspects of the industry and form professional relationships – regardless of whether you get placed in a job for the summer or not. The bootcamps, meet and greet, and summer seminars serve more than one purpose. Start conversations with as many people as you can. Who you know in the industry can go a long way in securing that “dream job”. Twitter, LinkedIn, etc are other resources you should take advantage of – you never know who you might get to know, or what you’ll be able to learn from them.

5. Be Yourself
Employers will be looking for people that will fit with their company’s vibe. Trying too hard to impress an employer will result only in them not having any sense of who you are or how you would work within the company. Add some personality to your Summer of Tech profile- give people a sense of who you are, what makes you unique. The same goes for the meet and greet and interviews. Wear clothes that you’re comfortable in (just not the ones with holes in the knees!) and start discussions on topics you’re comfortable with. It’s cliché, yes but “be yourself” is the most important thing you can do throughout Summer of Tech – not only will it ensure that employers get a sense of who you are, but it will make it much more likely that you will enjoy the job you get.

Good luck, everyone! Take advantage of the opportunities Summer of Tech is offering to you – they’re hard to beat.

Is there life after Summer of Code??
Oh yes!!… SoC 09 interns are getting ready to finish off their studies, move into contract or permanent roles in their host companies or finding other opportunities for the next step in their IT careers. 

We want to stay in touch!  Please join our LinkedIn group – “Summer of Code – New Zealand”.  This is where we’ll post ad hoc job opportunities, notices, announcements, and it’s a great way of staying connected to the wider community of SoC alumni & supporters.

So – what’s it for?
Maybe you’ve got an idea for a Bootcamp topic? Want to suggest a seminar speaker? There’s a job board, and lots of space to discuss stuff. 

But mostly, LinkedIn is about staying connected.