by Alex Buckley
Starting out as a full-time employee in the tech industry is an exciting transition for anyone, the old certainties of study life are swept aside and in their place, you must adapt to an entirely new working environment and new technologies. You realise that when you start working in tech full-time that’s when the real learning begins and you absorb exponentially more knowledge than you did whilst studying.
Starting out at a company that appropriately supports your learning, challenges you, and listens to your ideas is paramount. The confidence you gain from completing your first solo project for an appreciative client or making a breakthrough on a research and development project is what powers you through long periods of troubleshooting and times when you doubt your abilities.
Catalyst IT is such a company. Many of the new graduates that Catalyst employs started off as summer interns, who are assigned to one of the many teams at the company for the whole 3-month internship.
I started as a summer intern in the 2016/17 summer in the Catalyst Koha team. Koha is the worlds first open source Integrated Library Management System (ILMS), the project started in Levin in 1999 and the system is now a global project and is used by 15,000 libraries worldwide with millions of patrons. It was, and is, very exciting working on a project with a significant global impact.
Its also great to know that before interns arrive at Catalyst the teams they are assigned to decide upon a useful development or R&D project to be worked on, so you know what your doing will add real value to the team and the company.
Four great reasons why I think Catalyst is a great place to start out as a new tech graduate and why you should apply are:
As Catalyst is an open source software development company, many of teams develop and/or contribute for an open source product. For example my team hosts and supports Koha installations for clients and contribute new features and bug fixes for the worldwide Koha community.
I have found collaborating with other developers from all over the world is the perfect way to add diverse viewpoints. You are forced to think about users in different locations who speak different languages and have different network speeds and knowledge/experience of technology. It introduces you to different human conditions. This will then be reflected in your work.
In my time at Catalyst, I have attended three different Catalyst run development courses on Perl programming language, ElasticSearch, and Linux Server – threre is a big support of staff members professional development.
Catalyst runs training sessions on a wide range of open source technologies, frameworks, systems and methodologies. These courses are aimed at people outside of Catalyst but after getting your project managers approval you can attend.
It's so great to work for a company that really values its staff and wants to support them improving and adding onto their skill-set.
Your team will listen to your ideas
When starting out in the tech industry you're enthusiastic and full of ideas, I have found that Catalyst welcomes this!
At regular team meetings, I suggest ideas in any aspect of what the team works on and they are well received and discussed. They may be taken on board in their original state or may be modified after getting constructive feedback.
Whatever happens, I always gain more knowledge, and a respectful and constructive exchange of ideas and thoughts will have happened.
Catalyst does not disregard your ideas because you are just starting out as a full-time member of staff, instead they value and often take on board the ideas, which means such a lot to you when you are starting out.
Finally, if you are a keen world traveller, as I am, then Catalyst is the perfect place to work. They were not only supportive of me working remotely from the South Island whilst I finished my degree, but also I was able to go and work in their UK office after travelling through Egypt and Jordan in the 2017/18 NZ summer. During my time in the UK, I was able to do 6 different weekend trips throughout the UK, France and Italy.
Without having the opportunity of working in the UK I would not have been able to have this wonderful European experience.
In addition to being an excellent way to extend your holiday whilst still being paid, it also takes the hassle out of trying to determine if the accommodation you rented (which you intend to work in remotely) has adequate internet access and is quiet enough to work in.
Moving away from full-time study to full-time work in the tech industry takes a bit of getting used to. But, starting out in a company like Catalyst, you will be supported you as you spread your wings, take on more responsibilities and begin the learning that will span the rest of your career.