Having your cake and eating it, too, is an internship at the healthcare IT solutions provider.
Finding a first job can feel overwhelming. Feeling like you are prepared for your first job can seem unattainable. Fitting in at a first job can seem daunting.
Rhapsody aims to ease this transition for new graduates by participating in Summer of Tech, a program that prepares soon-to-be graduates interested in technology careers with the skills, experience and connections they need to jump-start their careers. Through this program, students conduct internships at Rhapsody that give them the experience they need, which can also lead to full-time employment with the company.
And cake — an internship with Rhapsody leads to lots of cake. (More on that in a bit.)
Rhapsody’s commitment to educating young professionals via paid internships is one way the company builds connections for a healthier world. By identifying, fostering and growing emerging talent, Rhapsody bonds with technology professionals early in their careers, offering interns an opportunity to earn real-world experience, and Rhapsody the chance to get to employ top talent with fresh ideas while simultaneously developing the company’s staff into mentors.
“There’s this kind of cycle that goes on where both the intern and the mentor just grow at quite a ridiculous rate,” said Simon Murcott, development manager for Rhapsody and head of the company’s participation in Summer of Tech.
Zaine Mani, a graduate test engineer in development for Rhapsody, was a student at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, when he heard about Summer of Tech, a program that empowers New Zealand’s diverse tech students to bridge the gap between learning and earning by making it easy and attractive for employers to hire them.
Organizations including Rhapsody find, grow and employ students and graduates to get hands-on experience, do meaningful work and become ready for the tech industry. “Throughout the year, you go to workshops to work on your skills,” Mani said, recalling educational topics ranging from coding to interviewing.
Last September, Mani and other students participated in a meet and greet event with representatives from companies including Rhapsody. Requests for 10-minute “speed interviews” were then sent to candidates in whom the companies showed interest. “Simon [Murcott] was the one I got along with him the most out of all the other employers I spoke to,” Mani said. “We kept having to extend our 10-minute spot! Getting along with the representative was a big factor for me, and the role at Rhapsody was in Dev Ops and that was something I was looking for.”
Mani began working 40 hours a week at Rhapsody, testing applications and understanding new features’ impact on legacy features. Using the skills he honed in university, Mani enjoyed exploring new applications for those skills, particularly in the healthcare IT space. “Being in the healthcare industry, you have a role to play. Every day you come to work, you have a purpose. You’re helping healthcare. You wake up and you’re happy to do it – it feels like you’re making a difference,” he explained. Mani also took it upon himself to spread a little positivity in the office, as well: “My team leads and the people sitting next to me definitely help me out, so I try to bring good vibes and some good jokes.”
“Every day Zaine comes into the office, he comes in with the willingness to learn new things and adapt to the work environment – he is doing really well with that,” said Deepthi Rose, intermediate test engineer at Rhapsody, who mentored Mani.
Chandan Padmanna, lead engineer and a member of the team that selects interns for Rhapsody, said that a personality fit with the team is an important component: “Our three requirements are: understanding their motivation, gauging how capable they are of understanding the work and what kind of fit would they be with our team.
“We also planned well for the internship, understanding that three people were coming in who would be with us – how do we want each of them to spend their 400 hours?” Deepthi added. “We want to give them opportunity to achieve something and, at the same time, gain experience by doing certain things.”
Mani is now a full-time employee of Rhapsody, working on automating formerly manual testing processes. He is one of three employees who found their way to Rhapsody after a Summer of Tech.
“I would 100 percent recommend Summer of Tech as a way to get into the tech industry. You get all these workshops leading up to it, as well, and help with your CV and practice interviews with people in the industry,” Mani expressed. “It’s really good. It gets you prepared for what’s to come.”
Keeping Good Company
For several years, Rhapsody has participated in Summer of Tech, a nonprofit initiative that relies on hundreds of volunteers and representatives from companies.
“We’ve been led by innovative, positive, supportive tech companies from the beginning. We’ve maintained that as part of our culture, which is very much around reaching out and pulling those talented people into the industry, and supporting them to kick-start careers,” Ruth McDavitt, CEO of Summer of Tech, said.
McDavitt noted that the “retention rate” – interns finding other working positions with companies after their internship is over – is around 80 percent. “While it’s not a stated goal for the internship, it’s obviously a worthwhile investment on both sides, and often turns into something that is longer-term,” she said. “You get to know people and employers can help students while they’re studying – and, two, three, five or ten years later, they’ll remember you.”
Simon agreed: “It’s a really useful way to attract our kind of people.”
Learning Soft Skills
Christina Yu signed up for Summer of Tech in her second year at the University of Auckland, where she studies computer science and mathematics.
With prior experience in a clinical setting, Christina was glad to find a company creating solutions in healthcare. “I was interested in working on a software product in the healthcare field as I know how important it is to have good, reliable software,” she said. Her experience at Rhapsody has served her well for her graduate role, supplementing her technical skills with soft skills in demonstrations, presentations and planning meetings.
“We have a lot of processes we educate them on,” said Paul Sinclair, Christina’s mentor and lead engineer in development. “It’s practical learning; we take them through scenarios and they learn. I’ve had quite a lot of experience. When you bring someone in who is new, you begin to realize all the little things one learns through experience. I would like to see this program keep going.”
“I enjoy the work environment and thus enjoy going to work every day in such a friendly, welcoming office,” Christina said. “I feel the company really has our mental health and well-being in mind in all of the extra activities that have been set up. Even though I may sometimes feel stressed or under pressure around important release or code freeze dates, it is a comforting thought to know that there is that support around me.”
Another important thing Christina learned during her Rhapsody internship: She prefers the Black Forest Cake from The Gateau House (because it’s not too sweet and very light).
As part of preparing technology students to become technology teammates, Rhapsody colleagues indoctrinate students into the ways of a ritual important to the Rhapsody culture: Celebrating together with cake.
“The first day I met everyone at the company was a week before I started my internship and the email was about networking over cake,” Mani remembered. “I wondered, ‘What’s going on here?’ I turn up to the office and everyone is about cake!”
“If it’s your birthday, you’re expected to bring cake. Your anniversary, birth of a newborn, buying a house, getting a promotion – even when people leave – they bring a cake,” Sinclair said.
Cake in the office is popular, Simon explained. “For a start, it’s food – and it’s sugar,” he said. “But once you get past those things, a cake is about sharing something positive, an event or some reason to celebrate. It’s also a great way to get to know someone else on the team, perhaps someone you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
“Just being able to share those important life things through work is, essentially, a shared a positive experience. It builds connections you wouldn’t get when you’re just working around a bunch of people.”
Zaine also added cake-cutting to the list of skills he picked up during his internship at Rhapsody , as the youngest male in the office is often tasked with cutting cakes. The confections range from simple and straightforward to elaborate, and in a wide variety of flavors. “I used to go ham on it but you have to be gentle,” Zaine noted of his cake-cutting prowess. “You have to use a different knife if it’s soft and spongy. Last week, we bought a double-decker cake for our anniversary. I had to cut the top off first.”
All cakes are memorialized in photos and shared via a video display in the Rhapsody office.
“The company culture has really impressed me in terms of really caring for people, and being that welcoming and inclusive, which I think is very, very important, especially for people who are new — new in their careers, but also new to tech, and to their first professional jobs,” McDavitt said. “I know that’s a metaphor for other things, but I feel like connecting with Simon and the wider team at that personal human level is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the whole company culture.”
Lifting the Industry
In addition to the opportunities Rhapsody provides students through well-structure internships, McDavitt also pointed out the value in the volunteer hours and expertise that Rhapsody representatives lend to the Summer of Tech initiative.
“The opportunity that Rhapsody brings by being part of a more global-facing organization is a huge advantage for students,” she said. “I feel like there’s still the warm, friendly Kiwi kind of culture, but also that opportunity. In this day and age, when we’re not getting many opportunities to work internationally or travel, it’s opening a big world for students to have that opportunity as well.”
Murcott reiterated the benefits seen all around by participating in this initiative — not only for the student interns, but also for current employees and the company as a whole. “Once the interns are in your organization, you’ve got your team working to upskill these people and, in that process of teaching someone, you also learn about yourself,” he said. “And then as you’re teaching, they’re also coming to you with ideas you’ve not thought of before.
The impact on the student community is apparent, Murcott said, in helping them upskill or prepare for their first step in employment. But the impact is larger than just one company or one set of students, he emphasized.
“Whether we hire people or not, we’ve already been a part of a process of lifting the industry, which I think is awesome,” he said. “But also, because Summer of Tech gives us access to all of the students across the country, it’s quite an easy platform for us to put ourselves out there and say, ‘This is who we are,’ in an honest way.”