One of the big benefits of winning a project like the Falls Prevention System is that it has allowed us to grow the team, which is exactly the point of the Local Growth Fund.
I started my career in IT at 18 and am eternally grateful that a business was willing to take a chance on me, and I would like to do the same for other people. Thingitude has worked with students every summer since 2016 with great success and so it feels natural to hire a student as a full time trainee.
Please meet Traecy Elezi, our new trainee programmer. She has just passed her 3 month probation period with flying colours and is a fully fledged member of the team.
Traecy has been getting to grips with The Things Network, programming a couple of sensors, and has written her first app to monitor the gateways in our network.
She has met with clients, interviewed end customers, and got to grips with our helpdesk system.
Not bad for her first three months. But on top of that…
We had the opportunity to bid for an open IoT challenge run by Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Cluster in September. As we were busy working on the Falls Prevention System I was adamant that I would only spend time on a bid that I thought had a strong chance of winning and was going to do some good. Right at the start Traecy had mentioned an idea around walking home safely, and I wanted to encourage her to think it through so I suggested she did some research.
Many other ideas came and went throughout September, but Traecy’s idea persisted and evolved and she got solid evidence from surveying around 50 people that she had hit on a problem worth solving. All we had to do was win the bid!
The bid process is quite arduous – it is based on the Innovate UK set of questions, which means spending days carefully crafting words to explain your project clearly whilst meeting a complex set of scoring criteria. The bids are scored by a panel, and then the 2 best bids are invited for a Dragons Den type interview where you pitch your idea and answer questions from the judges.
Fortunately we got through to the last two bidders, so next we had to write our pitch and prepare for the questions. As a fifty year old man with two sons I can’t claim any real insight into safety issues for young women. So we split the pitch up with Traecy to explain the need and show that we were credible candidates for this project, and me to show that we could be relied upon to deliver. We practised a lot before the big day.
The judges had sat through 9 other pitches (for other challenges) by the time they met us, and I am willing to bet that Traecy was the first 19 year old they had met! She was confident, clear and stood her ground when questioned – all the preparation and wandering around the office talking to herself had paid off!
There is then an excruciating week and a bit of waiting for the result – but it was worth it: we won!
Welcome Traecy – we are really glad to have you on board, and I’m looking forward to hiring more student programmers in the next few weeks as our new project gets underway. Can’t wait to see what they can achieve in their first 3 months!