The IDTC student internship program was established in 2014 and over the last 3 years has provided ANU students with practical learning experiences and the opportunity to be involved with all stages of digital transformation.
Through annual recruitment IDTC has attracted students from Engineering, Software Engineering, IT and Computing streams at ANU and this gives us a great variety of talent within the team. I was one of those students. When I started at IDTC, I was completing my undergraduate engineering and science degree and was glad to know I could count my internship as work experience. Little did I know how awesome it would turn out to be.
For me, the student intern position was my first role related to my study, and in a large organisation. When I started, I really enjoyed the fact that I was exposed to a wide variety of stakeholders around the university at all different levels. I was forming relationships with all sorts of people and this was also valuable for the centre in building a network within the university. Besides, it was much more exciting than being confined to a single room performing boring tasks like in my other jobs. My internship allowed me to expand my communication skills. I was sending emails, making phone calls, organising meetings, left, right and centre. It was all happening, and I was learning fast.
Being at IDTC also enabled me to put some theory into practice. At the IDTC, we develop projects using the Agile framework. I’d only seen this in engineering lectures and assignments, but here I was putting the framework through its paces in real-life. This just proves, we do actually use what we learn at school, which was rather satisfying and a bit of a relief! I was involved in project scoping, documentation, development, you name it. I was rapidly gaining a good picture of how the team functions, everyone’s roles within the team, and more importantly, how we fit in at the university. I understood what a vital role each person had to play and how central those connections between staff, students and stakeholders were and are today.
So, from what I’ve said so far, you’ll probably notice there are benefits for everyone involved in the internship program.
The IDTC team benefits in multiple ways. We can include the student’s perspective in everything we do. Embedding this perspective in the team plays an important role in the customer or, in this case, the student experience. I was a secret spy, providing intel on what students may find frustrating and how we could alleviate this in our upcoming projects and designs. It’s increasingly more important to understand your customer, and I was helping in providing that bridge to ‘the other side’.
IDTC Team members also mentor, coach and support interns, which not only helps the interns but also develops the team members professionally. I’ve now been at the centre a while and still find mentoring and teaching new interns one of the most satisfying aspects of my job.
So how does the rest of ANU benefit from the student intern program?
Well, the university benefits by developing advocates for service improvement and process digitalisation. We are change champions, spreading efficiency and new ways of thinking wherever we go! We are passionate about what we do and we hope to pass that on.
IDTC fosters the growth and development of its students, preparing them for the workplace through hands-on experience. The program has been so successful that of 9 full-time staff at the centre, 4 have come directly through the intern program. We are planning on ramping up the intern program in the future as it gives valuable insight into students and so-called ‘digital natives’.
Overall, the program was an amazing experience and its satisfying to know that even as an intern, I was contributing to making the ANU a better place and enabling others in the university to have a better experience, whether as a student or as a staff member. I’m now happily a full-time staff member at IDTC and look forward to mentoring and bringing on new interns in the future as well as working with some of you on upcoming projects.