AON: Data team at work

ACIA CEO Challenge: Teaching interns how to juggle

30 Sep 2016

Internships get a bad rap. There is a perception that interns just fetch coffee and do busy work. At the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics, that’s far from the case.

The latest cadre of Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA) interns has just completed this year’s CEO Challenge, designing a chatbot that will be used by ACIA employees to access internal databases.

The challenge – a ‘competition’ between two teams of interns – sought to provide interns with a real-world project that will give them a feel for what working in the sector is really like.

“We think the CEO Challenge gives interns a real chance to juggle as we juggle in our professional lives,” said ACIA CEO Todd Curry. “So, having to juggle their day job – which is a very meaty contribution to the Centre, improving a model, or something like that – with this fun task that has real deadlines and real demands, as well.”

The resulting chatbots – one from each team – will be integrated into one platform that will then be rolled out within ACIA. This project does have a real-life impact.

The interns get to develop a range of professional skills, working in scrum and agile development, and learning how to collaborate on teams.

“The interns experience what working in a real corporate environment will feel like,” said Cristian Varela, a senior data architect at ACIA.

“They have to juggle with priorities, [they] have to juggle with deadlines, [they] have to build relationships with colleagues, as well. But I think the most important thing they learn is what is scrum, what is agile, and what working in a team like that feels like.”

More than that, the interns get to see the result of their work, rolled out into a platform that will be used even when their internships come to a close.

“It’s important to note that the contributions that each team made were substantial, and I think [they] will stand the test of time as we integrate them both into one platform for the Centre,” said Curry.

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Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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