News Item

​Whizz kid

Success Stories 13 Dec 2017

Since the tender age of four, Summer Intern Andre Westerlund has been fascinated by technology.

Growing up in Samoa, the now 20-year-old Andre says he has always had a passion for computers and technology.

“I first became exposed to technology and started using a computer when I was four years old, and ever since then, I have been fond of technology,” Andre explains.

This fascination with technology has led him to do a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, at Victoria University in Wellington after receiving a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) New Zealand Pacific Scholarship.

As a NZ Scholar, Andre was able to apply for Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) and MFAT’s Summer Internship initiative.

After a vigorous selection process, Andre was chosen to take part in the Summer Internship, which sees scholars placed in relevant organisations to the degree they are studying, around the country and in the region.

Andre is half-way through his 10-week internship at Datacom, where he is enjoying acquiring new skills, being part of a professional environment, as well as the free coffee, fruit and X-Box lounge, he quips.

Datacom designs, builds and runs IT systems and process for business, while Datacom Solutions focuses on key market sectors including education, healthcare and local government, as well as cross-sector product areas such as payroll.

It is the first time Datacom has taken part in the Summer Internship as a host organisation, and Andre is thriving.

During his time there, Andre has joined the Application Management team, who have him completing a project where he is involved in web development/design.

“I have only touched base on these skills at university, so it is safe to say I am learning new skills; such as using a Framework called asp.NET MVC and developing in HTML, JavaScript, and C#.

“This is something I haven’t learnt and it is challenging but very stimulating at the same time.”

When faced with such challenges, Andre is open to asking for ideas and advice, or if people are busy, he starts doing his own research to help understand the problem and try to figure out the best possible solutions for that problem.

Being proactive and curious is the only way to learn, he adds.

Andre says the Summer Internship is too good an opportunity to miss, and he encourages other scholars to apply.

“It was a big opportunity that I could not miss out on applying for.

“I wanted to work in a professional environment where my own understanding of computers and technological development could be used in the workplace, and benefit an organisation,” he says.

He adds PCF has done a great job in matching the scholars with professional and reputable companies.

“Taking part in this internship, has been a massive eye opener for me as: we get to learn new skills, network with professionals, see how situations in the real world are handled and the development of solutions for those situations.

“I can see how this initiative can sharpen the knowledge of regional scholars, who can then take those skills home to develop their nation and then the region in the future.

Throughout the rest of the internship, Andre is hopeful he will continue learning, gaining skills and invaluable professional work experience, especially in terms of applying what he has learnt from university in the workplace

Although he is unsure what he will do when he returns to Samoa after completing his studies in November 2018, he believes it will be something in software/network development.

“Of course, I hope to contribute to regional development in the near future, with what I have learnt from this experience, as it is an essential step to greater things.

“The plan so far is to work in an ICT environment such as the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) or Computer Services Limited (CSL) to gain more experience and to contribute to further technological advancement of my home country.”

Visit PCF for more information on the initiative; and see DATACOM for more information.

(Picture caption: Andre Westerlund, centre, with members of the Datacom team.)