How Siligong Valley networking meetups in Wollongong are unearthing and giving opportunities to local uni students
When University of Wollongong student Stephanie Seymour was encouraged by a friend to attend a Siligong Valley meet-up it provided her with an opportunity to secure an internship with local startup Easy Agile.
By attending Infracoders, on of around five regular networking meet-ups run by Siligong, Ms Seymour met many members of the Wollongong startup community.”I was already applying for internships online,” she said “I was doing more work for internship applications than I was doing my work for uni”.
It was getting her nowhere and Ms Seymour felt like she was doing a lot of work for little reward. So she decided to get out into the startup community and be seen.
She said startup meet-up were great because they featured two or three talks about what is happening in the industry before everyone was given plenty of time to mingle, interact and get to know people.
“The networking is a good 50 per cent of the value. I am trying to bring along more students now”.
Ms Seymour said when she went along the first time a year ago and met Nick Muldoon and Dave Elkan, of Easy Agile, she was a second year student and didn’t even mention she was after an internship. But they encouraged her to get on the Slack channel and keep talking to them.
“I wasn’t on for a week but when I checked it I got a message from Jared Kells who is a UOW alumni and ended up being my mentor. He told me they were looking for an intern and asked if I wanted an internship. I said “of course I do”. I was applying for about six at the time. But this was a radically different application process. They had never even seen my grades.
“I had just dropped out of a double degree doing engineering and computer science. I had just decided to drop the engineering component and become a programmer. And now I am.
They gave me a fixed term internship for 12 weeks. Then about two or three weeks before the end of my internship they hired me. They told me they wanted to keep me on part time until I graduate”.
Ms Seymour has been working three days a week ever since and doing two days of uni. “I am on about half the subject load of full time study. I have one year to go and will graduate mid next year”.
Ms Seymour said for one of Easy Agile’s previous interns had graduated into full time work and she is hoping that will also be the case for her.
She hopes her story encourages other students to get out there at Siligong events and get themselves known.
“You meet people and talk about what you and they are interested in. You will learn something even if you don’t get a job”.
“I would encourage students to start in their first year of study. You might not be ready for a job or internship yet but it is great to get to practice networking. Networking skills help get jobs. I am not a social person by nature. Socialisation is not intuitive for me. But each time you go it gets easier”.
Article & Picture: Greg Ellis.