At GroundWOW, a big part of the employment culture is the recruitment and development of student interns who are part way through their formal education. Company Founder and CEO Tony Rhoades is a former academic himself and he understands full well the benefit (both for an employer and the student) of Intern placements. Our current three Interns represent distinct parts of the business which means we have a Software Intern, a Product Design Intern and an Engineering Intern. We caught up with them recently to get a genuine sense of what it has been like to join and become a part of the team at GroundWOW.
Three Wise Men – L to R: Dylan, Stephen, Christos
Dylan Gillespie is a Product Design Student Intern. Studying at Manchester Metropolitan University and hailing originally from Northern Ireland, he is already very clear about the benefit of his time with GroundWOW. ” Since beginning my journey here, many of my technical skills have vastly improved – not least my C.A.D Ability. Being in the thick of daily projects, my current capabilities are constantly challenged and my development well supported thanks to the continuous guidance of colleagues”.
Each of the Interns are asked how they have found the experience of walking into a high-growth high-technology organisation. Dylan continues: “The energy and motivation that comes from being part of a small, dynamic and focused team is what struck me first. Then, how a tech start-up really comes to life and what it takes for the business to succeed. For me personally, this might include how to adapt and work in a multidisciplinary team to deliver targets on time alongside the multiple technical skills I pick up daily. In overall terms, the experience has really enlightened me on what it’s like to work in this industry. I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds for me having gained a much greater understanding of this type of work environment”.
There is always huge satisfaction when a placement works well but there must be something that Dylan misses from his student life. “Not much at all, to be honest! At first the early mornings and the hours of travelling were a struggle but once I got into a good routine, I felt a lot more motivated and I also get much more out of each day in comparison to the past year at uni”. He eventually concedes that the odd mid-week house party is perhaps missed but we’ll let him off with that!
Stephen Dickson is GroundWOW’s Software Intern (also studying at Manchester Metropolitan University) and he gets straight into what he likes most about his time at Global HQ. “I appreciate the people, the technology and the opportunity in that order. The people here are highly spirited about the future, their destiny and they are incredibly hard workers. The team in numerous cases have put themselves out to help me and other team members which is a big part of why all of this works the way it does and why I rank it in first place”.
Stephen is already a coding demon and tells me “I have greatly improved since I joined and have delivered my first project which we all use every day – the visitor management system”. To be fair, it is a thing of great beauty and in a disruptive technology business, it is vital that we know who is in our building at any time and that we can account for them.
Dicko (as Stephen is known to colleagues) goes on to explain the main takeaway from his time spent at GroundWOW thus far – “I’m a very ambitious person and have really high expectations. Working in this environment has given me full view of the blood, sweat and tears it takes to start a business. It’s also been great to work with other interns as we try to perfect our skills in very different types of engineering!”.
The final member of this group of rising stars is Christos Lambrias. Hailing originally from Cyprus, Christos is a student at the University of Salford. Christos shares reflections on his own experience since he joined the GroundWOW team in late summer 2019. “The environment is friendly between colleagues and I have no doubt this helps the smooth and rapid growth of the company. In terms of my own development, it has been a real source of progress for me in the areas of design, build and test in real-life projects. I like the idea that the first step of my career as an engineer is taking place in a tech company with high technology systems and now I can see my future job from a different perspective”. In fact, Christos captures really well here a sense you might get from each of the Interns, namely the value they all see in gaining a real perspective on what is possible which makes that not only a massive win for them but also for the company as well.
While GroundWOW might be viewed as a start-up, it has in fact been five years in the making and so cultural fit is a major component when it comes to new staff joining a close-knit team. Credit goes to all three of this year’s Interns who have fitted in perfectly and the rest of the team have all valued not only the contribution they have brought to the workplace but also seeing how committed they are to hobbies and pursuits outside of work. Dylan likes surfing, skateboarding, skiing and kickboxing and is the resident man of action. Stephen has channelled what used to be an intense focus on gaming into his personal fitness and career success. He can also be relied upon for some motivational words at GroundWOW’s weekly Friday wrap-up sessions where every team member takes the stage to share headline summaries of that week’s successes and lessons learned. Finally, away from the office Christos is a fanatical table-tennis player, 3D printer and laser-cutter and regularly enjoys helping his network with all sorts of jobs and tasks. He has produced some amazing pieces for the group including keyrings and desk signs and it has been great to see how far his creative interest extends. He doesn’t mind sharing his biscuits either which made him a best friend to many very quickly!
In summary, the level of commitment from all of this year’s Intern team, inside and outside of work, has inspired everybody at GroundWOW. It is this commitment, plus work ethic, their versatility and their flexible approach to any task that has already marked them out as star-players and we are thrilled that they are all members of Team GroundWOW.