23 Apr 2014

2013/14 summer interns at Regen - an interview with Kim and Lachlan

Kim
Lachlan

Lachlan and Kim joined us in November last year as summer interns and have been heavily involved in the development of ReGen Nitrogen. Lachlan is studying a Conjoint Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Art from Victoria University and Kim is completing her Graduate Diploma in Design from Massey University. We have certainly benefited from their skills and enthusiasm; so we had a chat with Kim and Lachlan to find out how they have found working with us....

How did you come to have a summer internship with Regen?
Kim: Through the "Summer of Tech" internship programme* which connects students and employers in the information and communications technology sector. The programme wasn’t advertised much through Massey University last year so I actually found out more about it through a friend who was involved in the programme as an employer and encouraged me to apply. After successfully applying to be involved in the programme I went along to the meet and greet event in October where all the prospective employers talked about their companies for two minutes. We then got to talk to the employers who interested us the most. I met Florent (ReGen’s team leader) and thought what Regen was doing was really interesting so I was really pleased to accept an offer from Regen to start as a summer intern in November.

Lachlan: I also got my role at Regen through the Summer of Tech internship programme. Victoria University promotes it heavily and the lure of good pizza at the bootcamps is always a good incentive...!

* “The Summer of Tech” internship programme has been running in Wellington since 2006 and provides opportunities for students studying information and communications technology to be matched with employers for paid work experience over the holidays. The programme also includes a series of bootcamps and industry-led skills development workshops to help bridge the gap between industry needs and educational development.

What has been your main role in the development of our new ReGen N service?
Kim: I designed the “look and feel” of the app. I needed to think about what layout would work best, what people should see when they first enter the app, the size and layout of buttons, the graphics etc. I also designed the app for the web version, “Farm Web”. Once I had the design sorted I then worked with our developers, Florent, Minh and Lachlan, to implement it. It was an iterative process as sometimes things didn’t always work or look as I first anticipated and I would need to go back to the design stage.

I also got involved in the communications side with setting up our blog site, CoCreative Lab, and helping facilitate the weekly posts. I also designed templates for the Regen newsletters, email, and the brochure for the release of ReGen N.

Lachlan: My role was helping Minh in writing code to create the web pages for the Regen N app. I also developed a number of automatic tests to ensure the app was working as it should. These automatic tests are much more comprehensive than user testing and give you more immediate feedback enabling you to fix any problems much sooner.

What have you enjoyed about working at Regen?
Kim: The team; it has been a really easy and enjoyable place to work. Everyone is really committed and cares about their work but at the same time are open and willing to take time to talk with you. I felt comfortable bouncing ideas off people and no-one minded being asked lots of questions!  It was reassuring that I was given the time to learn new skills and wasn’t just expected to know everything straight off. You feel very supported.
I also really enjoyed the work, the variety of things I got to work on was great.

Lachlan: The people here have made it a great place to work. Being a small company enables you to talk to people immediately whenever you have a question or need to work through a problem. It is a very supportive environment. It was also great to be involved with developing a good product. I enjoyed working on something that is being used in the ‘real world’.

What has been the most challenging aspect for you?
Kim: At the beginning there was a lot to take in at once. Often you don’t know the right questions to ask as you don’t have that baseline knowledge but I learnt heaps as I went along.
There was a lot of new information and tools to learn about. For example I had never used the web design software DreamWeaver before, but this was also a great learning opportunity for me.

Lachlan: Being thrown into the world of web development. I had never had any experience of working with dynamic web pages (having the web pages connecting with a database that updates with real time data). It was a great challenge though!

Have you found any differences in how Regen does its work compared with other places you have worked for? 
Kim: The aspect I noticed most was that I got to know what everyone else in the team was up to. I’ve worked in organisations where you are not always aware of what everyone else is doing. Here at Regen there is a well structured development process with regular planning, progress and review meetings. Even though we were all doing very different things, we shared in the end goal and could start to see how everyone’s work fitted together.

Lachlan: I haven’t worked for a company like Regen before but I think Regen’s hands on approach in working with customers early on in the development phase and taking your customers with you as you develop the services is a great way to go.

And finally, now you are well into another year at university, what is the one thing you have valued most about working at Regen?
Kim: Working here has built my confidence in approaching my learning. This has certainly helped me in approaching my interactive assignments such as designing an app for my course! I now have a greater confidence to just get started and try new things.

Lachlan: I also think my work experience here at Regen has made approaching my university assignments easier, I’m more likely to get stuck in. I also really enjoyed learning through practical experience. I’ve learnt skills that will also help me in personal projects I’m working on as well as my studies.

www.nzregen.co.nz

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