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From hackathons to sausage rolls: A glimpse into the lives (and life skills) of our graduates

  • People & Culture

They’re considered the toddlers of the company – just finding their feet in the industry and learning their ABCs (APIs, Backend and Cloud) – but who are they really?

Meet Tim and Ferris, sometimes called the “newbies” but more commonly known as our grads. As a newbie myself, I felt an instant camaraderie with the boys, but the mystery of who these graduates were was eating away at me faster than a winner in a hotdog eating competition. So, I felt that it was my civic duty to put my best Nancy Drew hat on to uncover the truth.

Not really – my manager asked me to write this blog.

That’s how I found myself sitting down with the dynamic duo one Monday morning asking them who they are, what they do, and what in the world is a hackathon?

From humble beginnings

I decided to ease my way in with a simple question, “What did you study?”

The boys both studied the same thing at Auckland University of Technology – a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences majoring in Software Development. A very apt degree for a basis in anything integration and development. But how they found out about the role differed as Tim found it through Seek Jobs during his final year of studying, while Ferris got his foot in the door through a family connection. “I heard about it through word of mouth, actually. I joined the Microsoft Student Accelerator programme. My uncle worked at Microsoft, and I asked him to put my name forward if he heard of any opportunities coming up.”

The two joined Adaptiv Integration in 2020 during the August Auckland lockdown – a very underwhelming start to their career. But despite starting on a low with a month-long working from home stint, they eventually made it into the office and have been busy ever since.

So, what does a day in the life of a grad look like, you may wonder? Tim says, “90% of what we do each day involves training.” Studying for certificates, upgrading soft skills, understanding integration as a concept, oh my! A good chunk of their day is focused on learning as much as possible through hands-on training and guidance.

The original intention behind the graduate programme was to bring in students fresh out of university and train them up in integration and development in a real-world environment. However, in recognition that there’s a considerable difference between what you do at university and how it translates in a job, Adaptiv created a role that trains students with the support of mentors.

And thus, the graduate programme was born.

What on earth is a ‘Hackathon’?

Despite an adjustment period of navigating a new job while in lockdown, trying to understand what the countless acronyms stand for, and adapting to working full time, the boys have already noted a few highlights so far.

“The Hackathon was definitely a highlight for me,” says Tim. And Ferris wholeheartedly agreed.

I must admit that a few thoughts crossed my mind when I heard the word “Hackathon” (and all of them revolved around something illegal)!

It turns out the Hackathon was legal, and involved splitting company into teams, and challenging them with a time limit to create a pitch for integration. Tim and Ferris participated in the Hackathon after a few months of working for Adaptiv, and this was their first developer project. Fuelled by the ticking of the clock, they worked with the senior team to create a plan and pitch it to a potential client. Other highlights include working with big names such as PlaceMakers, Fletcher Building & Fulton Hogan, and learning integration from some of the best in the industry.

A few of the current intermediate and senior consultants for Adaptiv started off in the same position as Tim and Ferris, and have gone on to have very impressive careers. Consultant George Philips went through the programme previously, and says. it helped his career by “exposing me to a wide range of technologies and strengthening the soft skills that most IT professionals lack by dealing directly with clients.”

Consultant Harris Kristanto also trained as an Adaptiv grad, and it allowed him to “enter the world of systems integration by first supporting Adaptiv’s client base and slowly transitioning into a more development role.”

A hard lesson to learn

Under the guidance of their mentors, our grads have learnt a few valuable lessons that they will practice throughout their career. The biggest learning for both is knowing when to get over their pride and ask for help. “And that there is no stupid question, sometimes it’s better just to ask someone then spend hours trying to figure it out for yourself,” says Ferris.

Writing notes during meetings has been another key lesson for them both, and though it was hard trying to multitask initially, it was handy having something to refer to later.

We asked Adaptiv’s Co-Founder and Principal Architect Nikolai Blackie, how training the boys has been so far.

“They’re doing great in terms of actual work but their life skills – not so much,” says Nikolai. “They couldn’t figure out how to turn on the oven for our Friday morning tea and served us undercooked sausage rolls.”
Now let me tell you, despite there being several acceptable ways to prepare premade sausage rolls, the consensus is that you heat them in the oven until cooked. However, Tim and Ferris missed this crucial step and served frozen sausage rolls to the team.

“One of the first questions that they asked me in our mentor session was how to cook sausage rolls,” says Nikolai. “I’m worried about them.”

Food for thought

But despite the sausage roll fiasco of 2020 and somehow avoiding food poisoning, the grads have great expectations for where they see themselves in the next five years. Tim has his sights set on a developer or management position, while Ferris hopes to be an integration architect. “And also, I’d like a good holiday once Covid dies down will be nice,” jokes Ferris.

Though the boys are now almost halfway through their grad programme with Adaptiv, and their memories of being students are a blurred. But they do have some good advice for students in their last year of study who wish to apply for the programme.

Be humble in terms of your knowledge. Be patient in finding a job and be confident that you can do it. And don’t be afraid to apply even if you don’t know everything (and you won’t). You can always learn if you have the right mindset, and you never know where you can end up.

“And don’t be afraid to fail; it’s part of learning,” says Ferris.

And with that, the mystery of who Tim and Ferris are was answered. We now know about who they are, what they do, their highs and lows of the programme, and where they see themselves in the future.

And they also answered the age-old question – “how many graduates does it take to cook a sausage roll?”

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