The Startup Giving Students A Leg Up
13 Sep 2018
Anonyome Labs is a tech company that specialises in data security by allowing people to take control of their private information. Their motto is ‘it’s not our work life, it’s our life’s work’.
The company is based across three sites, the Gold Coast and two locations in Utah - Salt Lake City and St George. The fast growing Gold Coast startup began operating in 2014 with a handful of staff. Today the Gold Coast lab has 27 employees - 25 full time, plus two part time (interns). All up eight graduates have been employed on the Gold Coast, including a number from Griffith University.
Anonyome Labs’ Paul Jensen says the company typically brings four students into their office every summer and out of those four students they hire two. Jensen says every graduate they’ve hired has come through that internship program.
“In the early days we used to get the interns to work on a specific project, like a product we wanted to introduce six months down the track and while they came up with some great ideas it wasn’t mission critical, so it just felt like another uni assignment because they weren’t engaged in the real world.
“What we found was the interns really loved it when we asked them to work with our engineers on a more pressing issue. They’d jump in and just relished the opportunity to become part of our development teams, in the trenches as it were. They felt so much more empowered by contributing to something that was more real to them.”
Following student feedback indicating that they’d prefer not to work in isolation, Anonyome changed their internship model.
“To be honest it’s worked out better for us, because now we get to see how the interns are working and what their capabilities are in a day to day situation so that we can assess their
Insights From Three Interns
Vinnie and Katie went through Anonyome’s internship program two years ago and are now full time staff. Rachel served her internship last summer and now works part time at Anonyome while she finishes her degree.
Vinnie: “The best part was working with senior engineers and learning how they work day to day. The great thing about Anonyome is that you can ask anyone in the team a question and they’re happy to help. I knew from the outset that within this culture I would be able to learn a lot quicker because I was able to work with so many experienced engineers.”
Katie: “I started off doing an industry project through uni here. It was great because while I had free reign over the project I was able to draw on the experience of the Anonyome team. So I was able to both learn from the team and independently create my own project.
It also gave me a sense of what the working environment was like here. It’s both a friendly and creative team environment which really appealed to me.”
Rachel: “When I was an intern I was doing some QA engineering. It was something I hadn’t had a lot of experience with, so I took a lot away from that opportunity. Now I’m working on an industry project like Katie did. I’ve had a lot of help from other interns like Katie and Vinnie who have come through here by sharing their experience and giving me tips like how to use particular software tools.”
The Ideal Graduate
When it comes to identifying a potential intern or graduate Paul Jensen is looking for much more than academic achievement.
“You can get a sense from someone’s academic record as to whether they’re a good worker or not. If I see someone who’s scoring top marks of 7’s right across the spectrum of their subjects that’s a red flag for me. I know that might sound weird, but it does make me wonder what kind of a life is this person having? What sort of a team player are they? What are they doing outside of university?
“If they’ve got a GPA of 5.5 and above, but they’re playing team sport, they’re working part time, they’re involved in their community or they’re giving something back by tutoring at their university, playing music – whatever, I’m more attracted to that person than the person who’s scoring straight 7’s that doesn’t play sport, doesn’t have a part time job or doesn’t do anything other than study. They’re not as interesting to me.”
Paul Jensen stresses that the cliché of what constitutes a typical IT personality couldn’t be further from the reality.
“It’s all about being a good team player. There’re no guys here locked in a closest where we’re sliding pizzas under the door to them. It’s all collaborative. We’re looking for smart team players who aren’t afraid of voicing their opinions and bringing their ideas to the table."