The Indy Tech Fellowship is the natural next step after participating in the Xtern program, as Fellow Ian Andrews’ story suggests.
Ian’s journey began in his hometown of Houston, Texas, where his enthusiasm for technology bloomed. His initial interest in design and architecture was put aside after he took a class in programming and his deep interest in the tech world was revealed. Ian was accepted to Purdue University and studied computer science for two years when he found special interest in customer interaction and how end users find solutions to technological problems they experience in software. Ian switched to Computer & Information Technology in his third year at Purdue and completed the program for his degree.
Taking a chance on Indy and Xtern
Ian was first introduced to Xtern rather unconventionally in the summer of his fourth year at Purdue after he secured an internship with Interactive Intelligence. While discussing the details of the internship, his recruiter introduced him to Xtern as a complementary program that also included professional networking, events and housing.
At the time, Ian had almost no impression of Indy. He spent most of his time on campus at Purdue University or out in the West Lafayette community, and had not spent much time at all in the city before his internship. He already committed to his internship, but he hadn’t yet met his future colleagues and he had no network of friends or contacts in Indy. That’s when he connected with then-Xtern coordinator Sally Reasoner and in one enthusiastic phone call, Ian took the leap and signed up to be part of the Xtern Class of 2015.
“What drew me to the program the most was the idea that I would have the opportunity to interact throughout the summer with tech interns like myself,” Ian said. “Had I not participated I would have been given a stipend to find housing in the city, but without knowing people who lived in the area or anyone also interning at Interactive Intelligence, I think it would have been more difficult to find things to do when I was not at work. By choosing Xtern, I found it easy to engage in various activities outside of my internship with several others who were interested in building relationships and just having fun.”
The Xtern experience
During Xtern, Ian supported providing solutions for organizations that took advantage of Interactive Intelligence’s on-premise customer communication software. He created tickets for business representatives to troubleshoot issues and helped with the configuration of telecom systems in both virtual and physical environments. With the freedom to learn more and solve issues in his own way, Ian was able to work almost completely independently by the end of the summer. He enjoyed the opportunity to quickly develop competency within telecom, a new subject for him, and then use that knowledge to solve problems to directly impact users.
“My position at Interactive taught me a lot about problem solving and learning quickly. Without prior experience in either telecom or support, getting used to my day-to-day activities and becoming more confident was a challenge. I asked my coworkers several questions to better understand my role and grasp the best practices that would make me successful. Once I had things down, it was great to start receiving more work that was gradually more challenging. I could see see how I was actually contributing to my team.”
In addition to a challenging work experience, Ian jumped head first into the Xtern experiences outside of regular work hours. “Once a week there were family dinners, which was a great way to get to know different people and an opportunity to hang out when most were free. I also enjoyed the learning sessions we had to with different topics focused on the Indy community, leadership and professional growth, as well as development classes to expose us to various programming languages. Overall I learned more about the value in building a professional network not just to provide more opportunity, but to also help keep you plugged into what is happening throughout the industry.”
From Xtern to Indy Tech Fellowship
His experience as an Xtern led Ian to the decision to join the Indy Tech Fellowship, a two-year program for new grads crafted to place developers, designers and product managers with leading companies where they can hone their skills, fast-track their careers, and impact our community. As a Tech Fellow, Ian knew he would have an opportunity to both make an impact on the Indy tech community and share experiences with other fellows at the same time.
Today, Ian uses the skills he learned during Xtern as an IT Analyst and Tech Fellow at Eli Lilly and Company within their Global Shared Services department. He works heavily with both business and development personnel to find ways to improve the channels used by his company to provide medical information to product users, healthcare providers, and healthcare payers. He is currently leading a project that is focused on adding features for information management to a web application used to communicate with global customers.
Indy vs. Houston
How does Indianapolis compare to Houston? Ian acknowledges that Houston is larger in size — 2.2 million compared to Indy’s 852,000 — but the design of our downtown and the available amenities make up for the difference.
“In Houston, you can find most anything you are interested in, but activities are often very spread out. The more you try to do, the more difficult and expensive it may be,” said Ian. “I feel Indy provides a similar amount of opportunity, but with the size and design it is much easier to take advantage of what the city has to offer. Realizing this, I chose to live downtown which makes restaurants, sporting events, nightlife and recreation more accessible and puts me at the center to reach other options in popular neighborhoods like Broad Ripple and Carmel.”
Add together the alluring lifestyle amenities with a growing tech community and you get a recipe to attract other tech-skilled new grads like Ian to choose Indy for their tech careers.
“An increase in tech startups or tech companies moving their headquarters to Indy does not just provide an advantage in attracting tech talent, it also impacts the culture of the city as it becomes more like that of technology itself — always changing,” said Ian. “As more companies move in, more opportunities arise to share technology locally. I think this stirs the drive for organizations without a tech focus to adopt systems that allow for innovation and creativity. This evolving culture of change and improvement is what I think will draw younger talent who want to be a part of the process.”