With the world increasingly reliant on computers, graduates with technology qualifications have never been more in demand. Hamilton-based internet service provider Lightwire is always on the lookout for the best and brightest computer scientists, having hired 18 University of Waikato graduates in the last decade alone.
But what is it that sets Waikato graduates apart? Lightwire head of operations, Scott Raynel, says recruiting the right people to join the team is a big priority. "Waikato graduates are top-notch," Raynel says. "They're able to apply their skills in a real-world setting and can solve complex problems with practical solutions. In fact, we just hired another Waikato graduate this week."
This is a sentiment echoed by Managing Director, Andrew Johnson. A Waikato alum himself, Johnson is aware that hiring high-calibre graduates with a strong academic foundation is key to staying ahead of the technology curve and competing with the big three telcos in New Zealand. "Waikato's computer science programme is globally recognised," he says. "Students can incorporate a mixture of disciplines into their study, which gives them a real advantage when working in a real-world business setting."
Founded in 2006, Lightwire provides internet to rural communities and businesses in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and fibre connections across Australasia. Waikato graduate Darryl Turner has been working as a software developer at Lightwire for two years, following a short stint in their customer care team during his student years. Studying computer science at the university responsible for bringing the internet to New Zealand was the "best career decision" Turner ever made.
"Waikato gave me a link from what was previously a passion and curiosity directly into an exciting career with a great future," he says. "Not only was I well prepared to come into the workforce after graduating, I was also able to transition to employment within the industry while studying, and more importantly, able to commence full-time employment immediately after completing my final semester."
Having recently taken on team leadership responsibilities, Turner says he enjoys being part of a high-performing organisation and finds the diversity of his role very rewarding. "I love creating solutions across the broad spectrum of software development and systems engineering, from working with modern web technologies and workflows to writing software for our rural network."
Computers have all but infiltrated every facet of our lives, and with tech at the centre of every industry, there's never been a better time to study computer science. Turner says that his academic experience at Waikato has been invaluable. "The four-year Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences with Honours degree taught me a great deal on a technical level and gave me the practical skills, knowledge and confidence in my own abilities to jump into the IT industry and get to where I wanted to go."
For more information about the University of Waikato's computing and mathematical science qualifications visit https://www.cms.waikato.ac.nz/.