Four GMIT software development graduates completed Globalization Partners’ first internship programme remotely. Now they are permanent staff.
According to software development graduate Sagheer Ahmad, doing an internship remotely was a positive experience.
“It was a better idea because I didn’t have to travel anywhere,” the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) grad said.
“Just say it was in Dublin or anything; I didn’t have to travel to Dublin, find a place and all that hassle. So, having it remotely allowed me to work at home, which was really nice.”
Ahmad was one of four GMIT graduates who joined Globalization Partners for an intensive 13-week paid internship programme. The US recruitment technology company established a European tech base in Galway last year to help with its ongoing software development, and has been expanding its Irish team.
The internship was led by senior software engineers Chris Loughnane and Jennifer Jarnstrom at Globalization Partners’ Galway hub. The pair were selected as mentors because of their previous teaching experience.
But, as Loughnane explained, the experience was something of a learning curve for them also – albeit a very rewarding one. This year was the first time for them to run the programme. Was teaching interns remotely not a huge challenge?
Not really, as it transpired. Loughnane had years of experience working remotely as a freelancer under his belt so, he said, he was “used to it”.
The interns had also gotten used to attending lectures remotely during their last year of college. “We didn’t have to teach them from nothing. They already knew what it was all about, dealing with classmates and dealing with lectures. So from our perspective, I found it easy. It was just a natural progression,” said Loughnane.
“Even though we just graduated, we all found that we had so much more to learn,” Ahmad said of himself and his fellow interns, Andrés Penas Palmeiro, Grace Keane and Klaudija Medeksaite.
‘When I originally came into the internship, I was kind of scared to ask questions’
– SAGHEER AHMAD
Since completing the internship programme, all four graduates have found jobs at Globalization Partners. Ahmad is now a graduate software engineer in Loughnane’s department. His role requires him to work mostly in the front end, whereas some of his former fellow interns now work in the back end.
Throughout the internship, Loughnane and Jarnstrom did plenty of one-on-one calls with the interns and communicated with them through private channels such as Slack. While they might have missed out on office watercooler chats, Ahmad said they came up with their own ways of socialising and collaborating.
Globalization Partners had hotdesks available for employees at Galway’s Portershed, a co-working facility for tech workers and start-ups. Ahmad said it was good to have “a calm environment” to take refuge in if his house got too noisy during working hours.
It may not have been a traditional office experience, but the four graduates did get plenty of exposure to both the company culture at Globalization Partners as well as the kinds of career paths they might eventually take. Via Zoom, they were connected to professionals working in quality assurance, project management, DevOps, management, and other technical departments.
“What I particularly liked was, not only did we have an intern experience, but we also found out what this ‘work from home’ phenomenon was all about,” said Medeksaite. “We were also given experiences such as meeting senior management and sitting in important meetings that we might not have experienced in an in-person programme.”
Working to the interns’ pace
Loughnane said himself and Jarnstrom were conscious of working to the interns’ pace rather than the other way around. “We introduced them slowly to the easier tasks but we scaled it up,” he explained.
“We figured out where they were in their knowledge base, we got them familiar with the technologies, and then we started to introduce them to easier tasks that we knew that they could get across the board.”
They soon amped up the pressure, however, and Loughnane said the interns “were moving tickets across the board, and within three weeks”.
Interns also attended mini tutorials to refresh them on things they had dabbled in at college to bring their knowledge up to a professional industry standard. In the end, Loughnane said that everyone in the company was so impressed by the interns they didn’t want them to leave.
“I really am delighted that they got work at the end because this programme started as a pure internship programme,” he said. “But I think everybody was so impressed by them, and somebody made the decision that it would be crazy to let these great people go. So an offer was made and they accepted and we were delighted.”
Future plans and asking questions
So, will Globalization Partners be doing the programme again next year to find more talented graduates? Loughnane said he was open to whatever the company decided, but whatever happens, he is still interested in introducing interns to a variety of different career paths.
When asked what advice he might give to future interns, Ahmad recommended that they “ask questions”.
“When I originally came into the internship, I was kind of scared to ask questions, because I didn’t know if they were stupid questions and I didn’t want to bother other people asking for help with a task because I didn’t know if they were busy or not. But always ask for help,” he said.
Ahmad’s initial worries were quickly forgotten once he got stuck into the work. It helped, he said, that the interns were encouraged to think for themselves. “They wouldn’t give us the answer because they want us to learn and improve ourselves,” he said of his mentors.
“So they would give us some tips or pointers on the right way. So you still learn how to solve that problem, and if it comes up in the future, you still remember it, because you did it.
“So always ask questions. Never be afraid to ask for help. And just, you know, try and enjoy it as much as you can.”