Council intern programme provides big boost

Nomos One employees and interns (back row from left)  Joseph Chagger, Ursula Steiner-Grierson,...
Nomos One employees and interns (back row from left) Joseph Chagger, Ursula Steiner-Grierson, Jennifer Francis, Yasmin Khan, Cushla Harnett, Travis Mackie, Matthew Broadbent, (middle row from left) Lydia Ireland (business manager), Courtney Cunningham, Bronte Shaw, Emma Marsland, Monica Green, (front row from left) Pieter Brits (chairman), Jonny Mirkin (founder and chief executive), Rachel Carson (support manager) and Kate O’Meeghan. Photo: Gregor Richardson.
Nomos One decided to participate in the Dunedin City Council’s business internship programme, never believing the results would be so spectacular  just five months on.

The council was offering $1000 for each intern taken on by companies through its "Sexy Summer Jobs" programme.

Nomos One is a Dunedin online property management software company.

Nomos One business manager Lydia Ireland said the company had experienced exponential growth and decided to trial two interns, which came at no risk to the company. Nomos One  used  the $2000 received from the council  to hire two law students from the University of Otago at the current minimum wage and suddenly growth started to soar.

"The business internship programme provided a sound platform for us to meet our business needs without commercial risk. As a result, we were able to create and test a business model for recruitment that has proven so successful from a basis of two interns, we have been able to recruit 80 additional law students. Numbers are still growing."

When the Otago Daily Times questioned the number 80, Ms Ireland assured the newspaper the figure was correct.

First, 50 interns were hired, followed by another 30. The original two were still employed, making the total of 82 interns working at and being paid by Nomos One.

Two staff members from the Otago law faculty had visited and watched the progress of the interns, who work a variety of hours and days through the week.

The times available for work were posted online and interns marked which hours they could work. While some might only work two and a-half hours in one day, another might work the full shift from 9am to 8pm, with several breaks programmed in throughout that time, she said.Flexibility was the key to success and much depended on the work available and study commitments of the students.

There had been some benefits for the interns as well as the company meeting its growth targets, Ms Ireland said.

One intern said his friend had had an internship at a law firm and had not learnt as much as he had at Nomos One.

It was also interesting to watch groups of students form their own "bonds". Older interns would bond together and help the younger members of the groups. Also, some of them got to be group managers, taking over responsibilities when people  left for the night, Ms Ireland said.

"This is the way of the future for us and an effective future for graduates. The lawyers coming through could see how technology was impacting on their careers, and they can become an expert in it."

Clients had been impressed with the programme and the increased productivity. Having the extra staff gave the company agility and a point of difference and helped drive a large increase in productivity.

Nomos One software aimed to be a global leader for those managing commercial properties, Ms Ireland said.

The company was already working with significant partners in retail, infrastructure and education and had a growing international presence in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Since December, the company grew from 10 full-time employees to a team of 95 casual, part-time and full-time roles.

Nomos intern Bryn Jenkins said the summer jobs programme was an invaluable initiative to link students with the wider Dunedin business community.

It offered students the opportunity to lift their skills, while the business gained enthusiastic and driven students  as workers.

It was rewarding to hear the feedback from the law students about the real-life learning experiences that were helping them develop skills in their chosen field. At the same time, they were contributing to the growth of the company and the Dunedin economy, Ms Ireland said.

Enterprise Dunedin business development adviser Chanel O’Brien said the internship programme, which is supported by the Grow Dunedin Partnership, met business needs, created high-value jobs, retained skills and talent in the city and contributed to the economic growth of Dunedin.

Since being launched in 2009, the programme had involved 95 businesses across a wide range of sectors, she said. The programme had created 348 paid internships which, to date, had resulted in 209 positions.

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