Since 2018, the Tech Allies Network has offered students interested in tech the opportunity of a summer placement experience, where they get to meet employers, learn new skills and get hands-on experience running a design sprint. This year, due to the pandemic, the summer programme was moved online.
The Summer Institute was created by the Tech Allies Network as technology cuts across all industries and some students may only experience working in one or two industries before moving into a full-time job. The Summer Institute programme aims to give students an insight into multiple industries, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their future careers.
We caught up with Tech Industry Gold degree student Arham Zubair to find out how he got on.
Arham is studying at Aston University for a BSc Computer Science with Business, which is a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree.
Firstly – how are you and how have you been managing during the lockdown?
I am well, though lockdown was quite a challenge for me. I felt quite isolated but I am happy being back at work.
What is it like studying a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree?
It is amazing. Going to special events for students who are on a Tech Industry Gold degree has been a fantastic opportunity. Getting to network with tech companies and students from different universities is a really unique experience.
How did you find out about the Tech Allies Network’s Summer Institute?
Our course director, Dr Tony Beaumont, sent out an email which contained information regarding the opportunity, and I was curious to find out more.
What process did you have to go through to get on the programme?
I was asked to send in a video application explaining how I would improve my favourite product or service and share my general interests and passions, so that the panel could find out more about me and what motivates me.
“We received interest from hundreds of students from across the world this year, and given our entire committee volunteer their time to run the network, we needed a process that was scalable. We asked these two questions because we wanted an insight into how the student approached a problem, how they could demonstrate creativity, and how we could see a passion that we could nurture on the programme”.
Ryan Clifford, co-founder of the Tech Allies Network
What was a typical day like?
Throughout the programme, we were guided through the design sprint process to apply the methodologies used in industry to our own group project. We also had a mixture of industry insights each day from hosting companies and spent some of the time working in our small teams. A typical day started at 10 am and ended at 4 pm. The programme was really stimulating as I was learning new skills on a daily basis.
What three things did you learn from the programme which will help you in your future studies/career?
The virtual programme gave me a range of tools and concepts to help me be more innovative which can be applied in industry. I got hands-on experience running a design sprint, guided by industry professionals from Finastra, Gousto, GSK, IBM and Salesforce.
I also learned how to use MURAL and Marvel App for building an app prototype, storyboarding, and empathy mapping.
What were the challenges?
There weren’t any challenges really. Everything was clearly explained and when we did need help, we had access to a slack group where we could post questions.
What are you looking forward to next term?
I miss university, going to lectures, interacting with lecturers, friends, and learning new things. Yes, the lockdown has made me miss being at university every day. I am also looking forward to more opportunities.
What else do you have planned for the summer?
Polishing up on my web development skills.
Here’s a final word, well a few words, from Ryan Clifford, Founder of the Tech Allies Network.
“To move the Summer Institute from a physical space to a virtual space was a real unknown for the committee this year but in a lot of ways, it made it even better! We were able to accept more students, making it more accessible regardless of where students were located. Students were still able to really impress industry professionals with their ideas, questions and energy. Due to the pandemic, the committee members have much busier day jobs, so the fact we were able to still provide this opportunity to students is a testimony to how everyone can play a part to closing the digital skills gap.”