Griffins Food Ltd Recipient talks about his scholarship journey

What inspired you to pursue a degree in science?
I've always been interested in knowing how things work and a talent for conceptualising complex systems which naturally inclined me to the sciences, but I had a number of teachers, particularly in early high school, who fostered and encouraged my interest in the physical sciences. It was their support which made me angle my school work to allow me to study physics and chemistry at university.

What were some of the learning curves you experienced whilst at university? Do you have any tips for current students studying a Bachelor of Science, that could help them get through university?
Like many kids who coasted through high school, I found the experience of being truly challenged at university the steepest learning curve - having to learn how to work and study when natural talent no longer suffices. The thing that helped me the most both with that particular challenge, but also with the higher levels of my courses in general, was finding a group of people who you can work with as a team to learn together. You're never expected to be brilliant in isolation in the real world, so why hamstring yourself through your education?

What was your role with Giffins Foods Ltd and what did you learn from this experience?
I had no single role at Griffins, working at many tasks in many different departments. In part this taught me that many kinds of work can be satisfying, so long as you bring the right attitude and mind set (and music) to your work. More broadly, though, it showed me how much of working life is about the team you are part of, and consequently the importance of so-called "soft skills" in getting by in the world.

As a software engineer with Solnet Solutions Ltd, please explain what your role entails?
I've actually had a variety of roles at Solnet too, with Software Engineer only being the most accurate descriptor for the last 2 years or so. As a software engineer, I am responsible for all aspects of designing and building the applications our clients require. Obviously this involves writing software code, but also making sure that what we are building is correct, fits in with the other things it has to interact with, and is usable both from a technical and user point of view.Additionally, I spent some years as an Infrastructure engineer, which is less writing code, but more to do with providing all the environmental things that are needed to support applications (servers, network element, databases, etc). All of these roles involve keeping track of a large number of interconnected and interacting pieces, without any one of which the entire systems ceases to function. A background in physics is surprisingly applicable to a career in IT, as it is to many industries. 

Have you worked on any exciting projects in this role and if so what were they?
I've worked on a number of large projects, from the system that provides medical information to every doctor, hospital and pharmacy in the country, to the system which secures NZ's online passport application system. I'm not certain I'd call these exciting projects, per se, but they were certainly challenging, and it's the challenge which I enjoy.

What component (mentor, scholarship or work experience) did you find the most beneficial part of your experience with FF and why?
For me, the greatest contribution was the role the scholarship played in allowing me to leave home in order to get the best education in my chosen field that New Zealand had to offer. Having a manageable student debt at the end of my undergrad gave me more leeway to consider, and ultimately pursue post-graduate studies. The financial relief that the scholarship offered me and my family in the first years of my studies, meant that I could focus on the reason I was at university, and my mum was better able to support my sister as she moved into the world a few years behind me.

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