With a sociology degree already under his belt, Christian Hayward leapt back into study with a Bachelor of Computer Science at Unitec – and found the perfect combination of skills to take him into the workplace.
“I was always the ‘go to person’ if anyone had computer issues. In fact, in high school my friend and I set up a side company called Nerd Shop where we fixed people’s computers! So, after getting my degree, I took a technical support role at Concentrix and found I really liked it. It brought together my computer skills with the soft skills I’d acquired in my Sociology degree, and I realised I could really expand and grow in this area.”
Christian decided to head back to study and further develop his technical skillset. He applied for a Computer Science degree at Unitec, specialising in Software Development, and began attending night classes while still working full-time at Concentrix.
“The flexibility of Unitec’s study options was key. I was able to go about my regular day while attending Unitec at night. And because Concentrix is based on Unitec’s grounds, my work and study were in one place, along with a great on-site gym! It really worked for me.”
After a year of juggling work and study, Christian was put forward for an internship position at IBM by his Head of Department at Unitec.
“Towards the end of my first year our HOD had some internship positions come up through his contacts at IBM. He was a gaming developer, so he asked us to create a game and said the best would see their creator put forward for one of the positions. As it turned out I’d already developed a game, just as a personal challenge! So, instead of scrambling to get it done last minute, I was able to send him the link straight away.”
The HOD liked what he saw, and Christian ended up leaving Concentrix to work as an intern at IBM throughout his second year of study. Then, on his own merit, he was selected by IBM to move into another internship during his third year of study – and he’s been there ever since.
“Getting the initial internship at IBM was perfect timing. My degree was opening me up to a whole big world of IT and I wanted to be part of it! My HOD gave me that initial foot in the door at IBM. That’s what makes Unitec so different – it’s about gaining real life skills and being put forward on your own merit, not just on who you’ve read.”
Christian finished his Computer Science degree in 2017 and moved straight into a full-time role at IBM. Today he works as a ScrumMaster in the company’s consultancy department, partnering with IBM’s clients to reimagine how to innovate, operate and engage with their customers.
“So often in the IT business the people side is missing – empathy, timing, knowing when to approach people and how to read a room. My sociology degree has armed me with the sorts of diplomacy and communication skills I need to work productively with people at all levels and bring them together to achieve a common goal. But, without the core technical skills I gained at Unitec, I wouldn’t have a real understanding of how it all works and I’d risk losing the respect of my colleagues.”