Week 1 - Wellington and Makahika

Sunday, 28 January, 2018

Seeing as I’m one week into my first proper job of my career, with my first day at the office coming up in less than two days, I thought it was a perfect time to start getting some writing on my website. I’m hoping to get out weekly or fortnightly updates as I begin my employment with Intergen at their Auckland office to try and document my learning and maybe even help or reassure others moving into a developer career. So, without further ado, here’s how my first week went for the New Zealand leaders in the design and application of Microsoft technology.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was very nervous to start thisweek. New experiences are intimidating enough without the need to fly across the country for a week to meet the team at the head office. Pair that with being pushed into a conference room full of all the other grads I’ve never met, and you’ve got a recipe for shyness. Little did we know how close we’d become by the end of the week.

Day one started with an introductory chat about our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). At the time it seemed like a general chat about how to work as a team despite personality differences, but it certainly ended up setting up the foundation for the week. Following this, we had a few more talks about company values, which again became very important later in the week, finished off with quite a personal chat with the CEO of Intergen, Simon Bright. For us to havean extended meeting with Simon on the first day was a bit daunting, but this was overshadowed by just how refreshing it was to see upper management show such genuine interest in the graduates his company had brought on.

Soon after this meeting, we headed off to Makahika Outdoor Pursuit Centre in the Tararua Ranges which was the setting for the rest of the week. Makahika presented the graduates with numerous challenges throughout the week, as well as ample opportunities for reflecting upon self-learning and team interaction. Virtually everything we did was completed for this development, and it was incredibly impressive to see the progress made by the group throughout the week. We were undoubtedly more talkative at the end of day one, but by the time it was time to leave I wouldn’t even recognise the shy, timid people that arrived on that day.

During our time at Makahika, one activity, in particular, stood out to me for a variety of reasons. One of which may lead us to be a talking point for the next group of grads to pass through. Each morning, our predefined team (Go Team Interlock!) had to transport twenty-five litres of water, two large wooden poles, and two large plastic bins full of assorted items for 20 mins off of the property. Once travelling the twenty minutes, we had to take a team photo and return to the starting point with all of the gear.

Initially, it seemed a mundane task to get us energised and ready for the day, but it turned out to be a valuable test for many talking points throughout the week. Team communication, elicitation of requirements, and willingness to retrace your steps and disregard progress were all necessary for the task. Our team displayed measurable improvement in the first two points throughout the week. Unfortunately, we had a bit of slip-up with point three on the second day of the challenge. After carrying the heavy gear up quite a steep incline for the better part of twenty minutes, a lot of us were quite keen to explore what we thought was a looping track on the way back. Not only would it give us a bit of variety in the walk, but we could also ignore the feeling of lost progress as we retraced our steps. It was indeed a loop track, but unfortunately was 10 kilometres long - not something to be done in twenty minutes. After an extra forty-five minutes of walking with no end in sight, it was time to turn around for fear of getting even more lost than we already were. I don’t think we were prepared to learn such a long lesson of retracing past knowledge, but we got it that day. By the time we got back, everyone was exhausted, yet still committed to teamwork and our little alliance. This positivity was something that I thought was awesome and displayed the group dynamic that we had formed. As we discussed in our reflection on the task, teamwork may have gotten us into that mess, but it also got us out. It was a tiring lesson, but something that proved invaluable to our learning and even our closeness as a team.

Travelling home from my week in Wellington and the Manawatu was a very different experience than I had felt on the way there. The goodbyes to grads not working in Auckland were hard, even if I could Skype them at work if I wanted. I certainly have a lot of new Facebook friends after the week so we can stay in contact, but the real thing that we had for that brief amount of time was even better. I’m looking forward to my time with Intergen, and I can’t wait to start on Tuesday.

© 2020, Andrew Robilliard