While most uni students are relaxing over the long summer break, Lachlan Gundy swapped that pleasure and signed up for a 6 week internship with Terra Schwartz in the coworking space at Launch on Northbourne.
It’s probably not as fun as surfing or lying on the beach but definitely a more effective way of launching your career.
As well as time with Terra Schwartz he’s been exposed to the other companies at Launch and witnessed collaboration in practice
I’ve asked Dr Sura who has been Lachlan’s supervisor and Lachlan himself about his time with Terra Schwartz.
Did you actively seek out an intern or were you approached by Lachlan.
Dr. Sura A/Prof Sean O’Byrne, his project supervisor, at UNSW Canberra recommended doing an internship with us mainly to gain work experience in a professional engineering environment. As a result, he reached us seeking an internship.
What are the minimum qualifications or experience that you require from an intern?
Dr. Sura For an intern, we like to have someone willing to step out of their comfort zone and explore to add value to the work we are doing. Terra Schwartz has a wide offering hence some knowledge in the respective area is recommended to make the best out of 6 weeks internship.
Can you see the benefits for both you as a company as well as for the intern?
Dr. Sura With my personal experience, I would highly recommend doing an internship with an organisation where you get to work with experienced professionals to learn and solve problems using the best industrial practices. This helps you to understand how real-world problems are solved that are complex in nature. Small to medium enterprises in the Defence industry who develop technology solutions, such as Terra Schwartz, are particularly better choices as they generally work in close, small, highly professional teams on difficult projects. For us, it is always good to get some fresh eyes on a product we have been developing for over 12 months. Also, an extra pair of hands helps to expedite some of our development work and also helps to grow our junior and mid-senior team members by providing opportunities to mentor them.
What are the kind of task that you have set Lachlan up to do? Was there a steep learning curve or all something he was capable of doing beforehand?
Dr. Sura Lachlan has done some amazing software development work with us. The code he has built for us is already in our production build and soon will be used in our day-to-day work. He came to us with some programming knowledge and was directly thrown into development work with enough support to start contributing from day one. In terms of tasking, we have broken down tasks into bite chunk pieces so it is not overwhelming at the start and we have supported Lachlan to learn progressively how these building block pieces are put together to provide an answer to a complex problem.
How did you come across the internship, did you go looking for one or was it advertised?
Lachlan I went looking for opportunities, since it’s a requirement of my degree. After searching around on the internet and looking through resources the university provides, I asked one of my lecturers if he knew of anything. He had supervised a research project I did involving some coding, so he put me in touch with some companies doing similar work. After sending some enquiries out, I was lucky enough to receive a call back from Terra Schwartz, and we took it from there.
Had you heard about Terra Schwartz before you began the internship?
Lachlan No, I had never heard of them, and I wasn’t really looking for anything specific, let alone a specific company. My only consideration was that I thought doing something outside of defence might be valuable, since I have done work experience within defence previously. Looking for something that would broaden my experience is probably what led me to Terra Schwartz.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship?
Lachlan The opportunity to get some hands-on experience has been really good. Not just the work itself, but also the process of creating and reviewing each new feature or update to the software they are developing. It’s also been really interesting to be exposed to a different work environment from the kind of things I’ve previously seen on other work experience.
Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot from this and your work has been valuable to TS?
Lachlan Absolutely. I’ve been able to achieve quite a bit more than I thought possible, particularly considering that I had no background with the kind of coding I’ve been doing here. From my first day the team has been able to find tasks for me which allow me to both learn some coding, and contribute to the work. One of the best things about this experience has been that feeling that I am contributing, even if it is only through small tasks, or with the help of the team.
How will your experience with TS benefit your military career?
Lachlan Something I feel is quite valuable is the exposure to different technical challenges. I might not use the coding skills again in my career, but I’ve still been able to develop my problem solving and critical thinking. This is also useful because in the future, I can’t expect to be the technical expert in every situation. Coming into this with limited experience has provided me a chance to try and solve problems beyond my own technical expertise, by using the resources and people around me. A key part of this has been learning to find the right questions to ask, since the team all have far more experience than me, and I can leverage that to solve the problems I am presented with.
What advice can you give to other students looking to do an internship?
Lachlan Find something that interests you. The degree I’m studying isn’t software engineering, and my chosen career doesn’t revolve around coding, but I’ve still been able to learn a lot, and increase my knowledge and experience over my time with Terra Schwartz. I think that a big part of the reason I found my time here valuable is that the work interests me.