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Datacom intern helps create digital assistant for education providers

09 May 2016

The Microsoft Student Accelerator (MSA) program has rapidly risen to prominence amongst New Zealand’s future IT professionals.

It is a New Zealand developed program with the mission of inspiring young people into careers in IT by creating pathways to real life work experiences. The program begins with Microsoft training high school students to get them excited about the prospects of technology. At the tertiary level, Microsoft prepares students across New Zealand for work placement by providing innovative, relevant training. Finally, students are offered summer work placements at top New Zealand companies.

Frankie - an Auckland University student in his fourth year of studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Software Engineering – heard about the MSA program through the ravings of his friend. After jumping at the opportunity to extend his knowledge beyond the textbook, Frankie says the biggest benefit is gaining invaluable experience without having to go through the intensive application process (which always requires past experience).

“MSA is a great way to prepare students for the world of work – you don’t have to have prior experience to land a placement, but you get to do real work for a successful company,” says Frankie. “The program helps you gain the corporate work experience you need to thrive in the workplace,” says Frankie.

Students not only choose the company they want to work for but also the project they want to work on. After delving through the various IT companies that he could work for, Frankie eventually opted for Datacom.

“They seemed to be really enthusiastic with what they were doing and their projects sounded really interesting, so I picked Datacom and managed to get in,” explains Frankie. “So, as well as the employer, the project is also a driving force making you want to work for the company,” explains Frankie.

Over the 10 week program, Frankie and his team of two other students worked on an innovative project called Smart Timetables. Essentially, the Datacom Smart Timetable product is a digital personal assistant for students and teaching staff. It delivers live class timetables, due dates, resource bookings and more, directly into their Office365 Calendar in real time on mobile phones, tablets and computers.

Although the Microsoft Partner company comes up with the project idea, as developers, Frankie and his team were able to take ownership over the design aspects.

“Datacom were great, as we got to input a lot of our design decisions and they didn’t limit our design space,” Frankie says.

Frankie will complete his degree at the end of this year and is looking forward to applying for Datacom’s graduate programme. Although Datacom is his first choice, he will keep his options open and also apply elsewhere, as he believes the experience and confidence he gained from Datacom can take him anywhere.

All things considered, it’s certainly a massive tick for the MSA program.

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