Hear from Summer of Biz co-founder Richard Westney about how Summer of Biz got started:
It started with a tweet. A harmless Twitter chat about students coming into the HR profession in New Zealand. I jokingly suggested that we needed something like the Summer of Tech internship programme for HR.
If you don’t know Summer of Tech at all, it’s a not-for-profit, IT industry led programme that aims to help bridge the gap between NZ tertiaries and NZ tech employers, and it has grown amazingly through industry-led workshops, and industry-hosted summer jobs, since 2006.
In the middle of the year they get top tech folks from local industry to run boot camps in Auckland, Wellington and other NZ centres to get students ready for work. In Summer they help match top talent to IT jobs for paid summer work experience.
Jasmine Rowland, an HR student herself, suggested we use the Wellington HR Meetup as a discussion starter to see if people were interested in starting something for HR. We did that, and around 20 people turned up and gave the concept the thumbs up last October.
Conversations quickly followed with Ruth McDavitt (CEO of Summer of Tech), the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) and Victoria University. At WREDA’s suggestion, we expanded the focus to include marketing. I contacted the awesome Nicole Williams who runs the Wellington Marketing Meetupand suddenly it was all go. Ruth in particular took us under her wing, and I can’t thank enough these and all the other people who have got involved and helped for their passion and desire to make this ridiculous idea work.
Before we knew it, by the end of 2016 we had agreement in principle and the support and collaboration of all parties to get something off the ground. That something is now called Summer of Biz and it launches officially on 21 March with a special event at Victoria University. This week, our website went live and students are already registering with us to be part of the programme!
Those who know me know I have long been passionate about both graduate recruitment and helping young HR practitioners and students get the right start into the HR profession. I make no secret of my contempt for elements of the HR profession in NZ who are box ticking, transactional, policy peddlers who add little or no value to the organisations they work within. So better to start with the young ones who are hungry to learn and do things in a different way.
While that might sound harsh, my response is always to question what our so called HR leaders are doing to help create opportunities for those starting out in their careers? How many HR teams in Wellington and across NZ ever offer roles to new graduates and actively invest in their development? How many of these people ever volunteer their time or put back into their own profession?
It is almost impossible for current HR/marketing graduates to find decent starting roles in this country. We need to both help them be better prepared with the skills they need, and educate employers about the benefits of employing graduates within their teams.
Over the next six months, some excellent young and more experienced practitioners will present HR and marketing boot camps to business students on campus to teach them real life, practical business skills and help prepare them for the work of work. Towards the end of the year, we hope to place at least 30 students in paid summer internships with some of the best organisations in Wellington. Oh, and did I mention it will all be done by volunteers?
After that, who knows? Change and innovation starts with people coming together independently and then collaboratively to shape something special. My hope is that we grow nationally and annually as Summer of Tech has done and really start to make a difference to both the HR and marketing professions in this country by creating intern and graduate job opportunities that simply don’t currently exist.
If this sounds interesting to you and you would like to get involved, there are a number of ways you can do so. We need not only more volunteers but:
Corporate sponsors – for the programme generally and for boot camp sessions
Companies who will be interested in offering internships next summer – start thinking now about some project work you could get done between November – February