Our Grad Programme... in the words of our graduates

Big Thoughts

30 June 2015 • Written by Our grads

With applications set to close on 7 August for our next Graduate Programme starting January 2016, we asked a few grads from our January 2015 intake – Amy Dunn, Anirudh Bhate, Nicole McCallum and Fresh Start joiner Mike Lealamanua – about their experiences…

How was day one?

Amy: From day one, the January 2015 graduates could tell that Assurity practised what it preached. Everyone was friendly, welcoming and downright delightful.

Anirudh: ‘A bundle of nerves’ would be an understatement! I found myself sitting in a room with seven unknown faces as Assurity staff welcomed us. These unknown faces were soon to be all too familiar as we set out on a collective journey that would change each of us in different ways.

The first day was filled with activities, each with a valuable lesson. Perhaps the biggest challenge for me that day was when we were asked to speak about ourselves for five minutes. With public speaking never my strong suit and the topic being ‘Me’, I was soon standing in front of everyone with my heart beating faster than ever. The five minutes went by like a blur and not without pauses – and, from that point, all I wanted to do was improve my speaking skills. During lunch, I asked Garth Hamilton if he would help me improve. He happily obliged and we ended up discussing it for over 30 minutes… well past lunchtime! Imagine talking to your CEO one-on-one on day one when you haven’t even started working properly! That is still the biggest highlight of the Grad Programme for me.

Nicole: Walking into the Assurity office on my first day was nerve-wracking, but Assurity’s energetic and friendly culture welcomed us all. On our first day, CEO Garth and COO Darren gave us a lively introduction to the company. To explain ‘how the business works’, we were assigned a Lego block-building task! But it wasn’t all fun and games as the next day we moved onto testing methodologies and terminologies.

Mike: When I think back to day one – which seems so long ago now – numerous thoughts and emotions were going through my mind including, ‘Will I get on with the grads (as I will be considerably older)?’ and ‘Will I struggle to understand the content we would be learning?’ 

What were the other grads like?

Amy: The Graduate Programme is like a melting pot. There are people from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Some had studied Law, some Commerce, others Computer Science and another… Genetics! It is through this diversity that Assurity gains its competitive advantage because everyone brings a different perspective.

Anirudh: What was striking about the process was discovering how different each of us are; different educational backgrounds, different personalities, different ways of thinking and so on. And yet good friends were made within a month and every day of the Programme and beyond, we were greeted with smiling, helpful and supportive faces.

Nicole: The energy, enthusiasm, and passion of Assurity exists not only in its work, but also in the people and the Graduate Programme. Even within the first four weeks, I was lucky enough to have shared the learning experience with some amazing graduates – and met so many other great people within the company.

Mike: The grads are pretty awesome... which my wife got to hear about nearly every night! So my wife is now jealous of my new mates and the average age of my friends has dropped by a number of years!

What did the Programme involve?

Amy: If I told you the content, I'd have to kill you… and then you wouldn't get the chance to apply! Some tidbits to whet your appetite though… In your first week, you may encounter tubes of toothpaste, Lego and the CEO! You'll have some fun and then progress into the real stuff – learning about testing.

Anirudh: We learnt a new lesson every day – sometimes through mistakes – and from the trainers. Learning in a safe environment helped us grasp things with a clear mind. Our trainers’ helpful approach and openness to answer any type of question was the perfect encouragement for us to grow our knowledge and think everything through.

The end of the Programme focused on projects with a real-life angle – so the perfect platform – including lessons not just about the practical side, but also teamwork and communication. At some point, we worked with every other grad because the teams were rotated. The people focus of Assurity really shone through for me.

Nicole: The four-week Programme was intense, but fun (proof that those two adjectives can exist in the same sentence). The Practice Leads did an amazing job of keeping us entertained, while teaching a lot of content. We learnt about test scripts right the way through to Continuous Integration.

It wasn’t long until they threw us in the deep end, assigning us projects to prove – to them and to ourselves – that we had learnt stuff. I think all of us were pleasantly surprised to find that we’d become capable of mapping, executing, recording, reporting and presenting tests and the results in a short time.

Mike: Four weeks of pretty intensive training took a lot out of me. It was a real challenge to get my brain to work in a way that was almost foreign to it for nearly 20 years and meant going over much of the material in my own time. But I got through it and can say – with hand on heart – that it was well worth it and rewarding. But also a huge relief!

Why do you think Assurity’s Graduate Programme is different to those of other organisations?

Amy: Let's face it, it’s common knowledge that many firms try to lure young graduates in by boasting about their ‘culture’. I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that we came to work every day ready for the challenges ahead, knowing that we had the support of everyone behind us.

Assurity offers graduates the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of testing and go out into the real world and test.

Anirudh: An introduction to Assurity’s services by respective Practice Leads provided great insight and transparency – and a lot to think about in terms of the direction I’d want my career to take. “It’s your career, take it in the direction you like” Garth said on day one. The absence of a rigid hierarchical system reiterated that. Looking at how some past grads have grown from where we are right now to being Practice Leads within a short period of time is more than enough motivation.

Nicole: At the end of the Programme, I felt a lot more confident about starting my ‘real-world’ experience with Assurity.

Mike: An organisation providing an opportunity for someone with a number years in the workforce to get their foot in the door of the testing world, with no experience or qualifications – apart from a passion and enthusiasm to learn – is unheard of. To learn from, be mentored by, and work alongside highly regarded and well-respected people in the industry is priceless. Opportunities like this are rare and one I couldn’t pass up.

Anything else you’d like to add…?

Amy: Assurity doesn't just stand still. It is ahead of the game and always ready to move beyond the status quo. So as a graduate, you need to bring energy, passion and enthusiasm – three words Assurity and its people live up to day in, day out.

Anirudh: Every organisation has its own different set of values – and I’m glad to have started my career in one that lives by theirs every single day.

Nicole: Interface. Automation. Lean. Agile. Scrum. Who would have guessed that the girl who only knew cookies as edible balls of goodness stuffed with chocolate chips would ever understand techie words!

Mike: The prospect of starting a new career later in my working life is not a decision one takes lightly. But applying for the Fresh Start programme is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

Applications for the June 2016 intake of the Assurity Graduate Programme will open in April 2016. Find out more here...

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