At the start of our 10 week internship, the last thing we expected was to be sitting in an executive conference room presenting our team’s idea from Vanguard’s second annual hack-a-thon to both the Chairman and Chief Information Officer of Vanguard. As an all intern team, we were pleased to even have the opportunity to participate in the hack-a-thon, a day and a half devoted to using technology and our own skills to bring innovative and creative ideas to life.
Walking into the hack-a-thon on July 27th, we were amazed at the number of talented crew sitting around tables with their laptops ready to go. We’ll admit it: we were a bit worried about our prospects. As an intern team competing against over one hundred full-time Crew, representing over 30 teams, we weren’t sure if we’d be up to par.
Once we started programming, our doubts went away and Starboard was born – an application for Crew to commend each other for their good deeds. We worked together by utilizing our unique and diverse skillsets. Sean S. immediately stepped up to be our tech lead, breaking down the work that needed to be done. Smith S. and Kristie C. began working on our frictionless user interface, while Harry L. constructed detailed graphs for managers to visualize team contribution. Chandler G. and Kevin S. began working on gamifying our user experience with a voting system utilizing natural language processing.
In less than two days, we had a product working better than any of us had expected. Without having worked together before, we came together as a team and felt satisfied enough with the work we had done, regardless of how we ranked compared to the rest of the hack-a-thon teams. When it came time for judging, Sean turned to the group of us and just said, “regardless of the final results, I’m just proud of us as a team.”
The finalists were announced and we were on the list, we were ecstatic. Not only were we proud of what we had created, but the judges liked it as well! We gave what we thought was our final presentation of Starboard and left for the weekend pleased with our work. On Monday morning, Chandler got into work early and sent a text to the group comprised of simply, “We received an email this morning asking if we could present our project to Bill McNabb and John Marcante tomorrow. Should I tell them we’re interested?” After a resounding “YES!” from the entire team, we started preparing for what would clearly be the highlight of our internship.
The meeting with Bill McNabb and John Marcante went better than any of us could have imagined. They were both down to earth and incredibly welcoming to our group, even as summer interns! We were able to share with them how we believed our application could improve Crew relationships at Vanguard. Our team then talked to our design philosophy, what technologies we used, and answered whatever questions they had. Ultimately, we left feeling both accomplished and honored, and we all agreed that this was an experience we were never going to forget.
The impact that we were able to make at Vanguard in just 10 weeks was made obvious by this priceless opportunity. The IT College to Corporate Internship challenged us and pushed us out of our comfort zones, while providing us with the support and endless potential to pursue opportunities to be innovative and make a difference at Vanguard.