Good and Competent

Behind all great technology platforms, user interfaces, and complex back-end systems lie dedicated people. As we expand our offerings and partnerships, we need exceptional talent and people who share our values. With this in mind, we created our Cape Town internship program in 2011 to provide graduates with an opportunity to experience our work environment and get to grips with our challenging projects. This year we had five interns working with our Engineering and Service Design teams in Cape Town.

Praekelt’s unique approach to software development, service design, and social change comes through in not only what we do, but how we do it. Engineering intern Wim Keirsgieter described the confidence he developed from the program: “It’s shown me that taking bold steps is not half as daunting as it seems. It’s also removed any doubt I might have had that software development is what I want to do.” The program reminded engineering intern Munsanje Mweene that “software exists to solve human problems. It is easy to lose sight of that while banging away at code.”

At Praekelt, small teams run large projects. “I’d heard the numbers, how many millions of people use platforms like Vumi and MomConnect, and it was pretty eye-opening to see that a team of only around 15 or so developers could maintain these projects,” Keirsgieter added.

We put people before positions at Praekelt, and our interns felt the difference. Kungela Mzuku noted, “I hear many stories about junior workers in companies and about how they’re not valued, but Praekelt felt different. It made me realize I want to be in a place that cares for the people just as much as the work.” Munsanje Mweene, who interned in the engineering department, was pleasantly surprised by “the extraordinary patience and passion possessed not just by a few of the people at Praekelt, but the entire company. From the founder Gustav Praekelt himself to the junior developers, everyone was a living, breathing embodiment of the principles this company promotes.”

This was the first year the program included opportunities for Service Design interns. “As a relatively new field of design in South Africa, inspiring students about the possibility of a career in service design and increasing their knowledge and skills in human-centred design is essential,” said Lead Service Designer, Pippa Yeats, “The Service Design internship is about getting students from multiple disciplines — engineering, design and others — to learn to leverage their varied skills to design useful, usable and desirable technologies for social impact.” Interns had a chance to research best practices for nursing programs to provide recommendations for a new extension to the MomConnect platform in South Africa, and work on a human-centred design workshop guide for UNICEF.

Ultimately, everyone at Praekelt shares the goal of using technology to improve the wellbeing of people in resource-constrained environments. Speaking about her time at Praekelt, Kirsten Walker noted that “It made me very aware of the isolation that is created by a lack of information. It really highlighted that access to the most basic information has the ability to change many people’s lives. The work Praekelt does made me want to pursue a career that makes a difference and looks at the bigger scheme of things.”

As Munsanje Mweene summed up, “Praekelt is a much needed dose of Good (with a capital G) and competence in a world that rarely pairs the two.”

If you’re interested in joining our efforts and being part of the team, read about our positions here. If you’re interested in interning, please write to careers@praekelt.com.


Originally published at blog.praekeltfoundation.org.