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 his time with Terra Schwartz Lachlan has been exposed to the other companies at Launch and witnessed collaboration in practice.
We asked Lachlan and his supervisor Dr Sura about his time with Terra Schwartz.
Did you actively seek out an intern or were you approached by Lachlan?
Dr Sura: Associate Professor 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 out to 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 their respective areas is recommended to make the best out of a six-week internship.
Can you see the benefits for 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 complex real-world problems are solved. Small to medium enterprises in the defence industry that develop technology solutions, such as Terra Schwartz, are typically better choices as they tend to work on difficult projects in close-knit, highly professional teams.
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 helps to grow our junior and mid-senior team members by providing opportunities to mentor them.
What sort of tasks did you set Lachlan up to do? Was there a steep learning curve or was he capable beforehand?
Dr Sura: Lachlan has done some amazing software development work with us. The code he built for us is already in our production build and will soon 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 broke tasks down into bite-sized pieces so it wasn’t overwhelming at the start, and we have supported Lachlan in progressively learning 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 as it is a requirement of my degree. After searching the internet and looking through university resources, 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, I was lucky enough to receive a call back from Terra Schwartz, and we took it from there.
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 has also been really interesting to be exposed to a different work environment from the kinds of things I’ve previously seen on other work experience placements.
Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot from this and that your work has been valuable?
Lachlan: Absolutely. I’ve been able to achieve quite a bit more than I thought possible, particularly when you consider that I had no background with the kind of coding I’ve been doing here.
From my first day the team found tasks which allowed me to 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 this experience 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 with 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 has 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 during my time here. I think a big part of the reason I found my time here valuable is that the work interests me.
If you’re interested in an internship here at UNSW Canberra Launch we’d love to hear from you.