But first, what is Summer of Tech?
Founded in 2006, Summer of Tech is New Zealand’s top IT internship programme matching students with businesses. Internships run from November to February, and students gain workplace experience by working collaboratively on real projects. It’s an opportunity to learn, develop professionally, and forge new connections – while getting paid to do it.
As part of the programme, students participate in bootcamps, attend workshops, make an impression at meet-and-greets, and pitch themselves at speed interviews. After that, it’s a lot of waiting and wondering to find out if they’ve been offered an internship.
How did you discover your talent for design/coding?
Throughout school I thrived at illustration, collage, design and painting. It seemed like a no brainer to keep doing it. But after university, I became more focused on user experience and digital service design – particularly the strategy and thinking behind it. It’s not just about making things pretty, but useful too.
My first real exposure to coding was an ICT class at high school. I was doing basic HTML, CSS, PHP, and Scratch. Growing up, I didn’t really know anything about code. But the ICT class sounded cool, so I did it, enjoyed it, and stayed with it. For me, coding is the perfect mix of computer science, physics, maths, and a bit of creativity as well.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about design for social good and applying design processes to solve complex problems. For example, I’ve worked on projects focusing on mental health, financial capability for young people, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. I always like working around a problem, especially if it’s working to improve the lives of others in some way. It’s something I’ve worked on this year as part of my honours project.
What I really like about experience design is making informed decisions throughout the process to create designs that work for people. You can identify assumptions, but you always work to clarify them – it’s not subjective.
At the moment, it’s front-end development because you see both the code and design coming together as one. I’m also looking forward to learning about Springload’s AI work, and dipping a toe into back-end development, DevOps and security. It’s awesome that I can be exposed to anything I find interesting or beneficial.
It’s great because everyone here is so helpful and nice, saying “if you need a hand, we’ll help you”. You’re not just thrown in the deep end by yourself, you’ve always got someone around to ask for help.
Who are your design idols?
I saw this question, and I thought “design idols” was a weird term because that puts them above you. I always like seeing people as my peers, so you can have a conversation with them. That’s what I really like about Springload – you can have conversations with everyone.
So I thought of the question as “a designer who inspires you”. And to be honest, it’s my lecturers at Massey. They really pushed me further this year. I’ve learnt so much from them, and they opened my eyes to where I can go in design.
There’s not one person who’s made me want to go into tech. I’ve heard some inspiring stories though. There’s the photo of Margaret Hamilton who coded for the Apollo 11 mission. She’s standing next to a stack of printed code for the Apollo Guidance Computer, and it’s as tall as she is. It’s inspirational. Especially considering the time.
Coding is something you can do that can actually better people’s lives. You can simplify processes that can help people do something faster or easier. And technology is changing so fast. Every 6 months, there’s new stuff to learn. Which I think is a great part of going into development – you’re constantly learning something new.
How was the Summer of Tech process?
I’m so grateful for all Summer of Tech has done for me this year. I’ve learnt a lot of valuable skills and have met some great people from all the events they run.
Throughout the process I’ve been supported along the way. For example, I got a text from the Summer of Tech team yesterday asking about my wellbeing. They encourage you to go outside your comfort zone and want the best for you.
I don’t think I would have got through if I didn’t have the support system from Ruth and the organisers. They said, “if you get stressed out, give us a call. We’ll talk you through things.”
They encouraged me to apply for roles even if I thought I didn’t have all the skills for them because I might be a good cultural fit. I think that made a huge difference in a lot of people’s interviews, and I can really tell it makes the difference at Springload.
Why did you want to be an intern at Springload?
What really drew me to Springload was the learning I’d get out of it and the type of work Springload do. I’m really interested in making meaningful digital experiences for people that are accessible, usable and beautifully designed.
I’ve heard lots of great things about it from those in the industry, the culture’s great, and you guys have an awesome website! You can just tell that it’s a cool place to work.
I had met people from Springload at Summer of Tech events around Wellington and at RailsBridge. Hearing about the company through word-of-mouth, it just sounded like a great place to work.
Springload’s core values really align with my own. They’re one of the main reasons I wanted to work here. As a company, you try to take on projects that do good, and try to make people's’ lives better through technology. That’s what I want to do too, because I feel it’s important. Springload was my top pick, so I’m really stoked to be here.
What kind of impact do you want to make in the future?
I really want to work on something that provides a huge social impact. It’s what my honours project aimed to do. Something working toward making a difference socially. Ultimately, I want to feel like I’ve done my bit and contributed to something good.
If I wanted to be known for something, it would be for helping people. Before the SoT process, I was getting to that point of uni that I was asking myself, “Am I in the right degree?” But now, starting my internship has made me excited about tech again.
Are you, or someone you know, keen on being an intern at Springload next year? Find out more about the Summer of Tech programme.