Although Gayle Ocampo was a computer science major at Butler University when she first bumped into TechPoint on campus, she didn't have tech working experience or an internship lined up. "I had no idea how big the tech industry is here in Indianapolis," Ocampo comments. "I was really happy for the experience and exposure to the tech industry."
Gayle was recently featured in BizVoice, Indiana’s Leading Statewide General Business Magazine, in the article, “X-Factor” by Matt Ottinger. The article praises TechPoint’s xternship program and discusses the myriad opportunities for growth in the tech sector in Indiana.
It’s become a valuable outreach tool to attract talent to the area’s blossoming tech sector. “Between 2015 and the middle of 2016, 74% of the jobs announced by the (Indiana Economic Development Corporation) were from tech companies,” explains Mike Langellier, TechPoint CEO. “That was a shift that surprised a lot of people. We have to make sure they fulfill that potential.” In the inaugural campaign in 2014, 50 interns from 10 universities were welcomed into the Xtern program. The latest installment, however, saw over 1,300 applicants from 78 universities (and 40 states) for 150 available spots.
TechPoint, a non-profit organization in the Indianapolis area committed to growing the local tech industry, offers a robust xternship that includes free downtown housing (with other tech professionals), professional networking with important Indianapolis tech industry professionals, as well as a paid internship with a company. Ocampo began her xternship with T2 Systems, and by the end of her 10-week-long xternship, she learned about TechPoint's fellowship program. “We all wondered, ‘What's next?’" she said.
The Indy Tech Fellowship is 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 the Indianapolis community.
Q. What has the first year at PAN been like? What are some of the things that you've learned?
A. My first year at PAN has been eventful. When I first started working, I was on the IPAT team and we were trying to get the IPAT products up and running to prepare for a May release—it was a little chaotic. Coming from an academic background, I wasn’t sure what to expect and joining a team in the middle of a big release was quite the experience. I’m not sure how many people experience a situation like it right at the beginning of their career and there were a lot of long days/nights, but it was a great learning experience. I learned a lot about the business side of a product and how to manage/prioritize work that needed to be done.
Q. What have you learned about the tech industry since starting at PAN?
A. Since this is my first job out of college, I have limited experience in the tech industry. I can’t really compare my experience here to any other job I had prior to working here, but I would say that I’ve learned a lot. I had very little knowledge about the business aspect of working on a development team—in a previous internship, I was on an intern team where we had limited business interaction—and working here has exposed me to that side of the industry. I am also grateful for the fact that PAN has been accommodating in letting me work on teams/projects to explore my interest. While finishing up my last semester of college, I knew that I wanted to start out in a more development type role, and I got to be a developer on the IPAT team; however, I also had an interest in QA Automation, and now, I get to explore that interest on the PBE team . This summer, I’ll get to experience a scrum master role while working on the intern team.
Q. Tell me a funny story about your Xternship.
A. One of the days, we lost our Wi-Fi for three or four hours. If you can just imagine how awful this was for a group of 100+ tech students — many of whom were gamers. Believe it or not, there was a guy who chose to put on 30 shirts to pass the time. We had to be very creative to figure how to use our time.
Q. Tell me about the Fellowship program.
A. We did a summer retreat to get to know one another with team building and bonding. It was a good way to get to know everyone else. We did the low ropes course — where some of us got blindfolded, some of us were mute, and some had all of the abilities. We mostly had to rely mostly on the people who were able to utilize all of their sensory functionalities. I was chosen to be blindfolded, and led through the course. You became better friends with the people when you have to trust them.
Q. Describe the differences between the xternship program and the fellowship in intensity and learning.
A. Everything is fast-paced in the fellowship. So learning new products and really being part of a long-term team.
Q. What type of time commitment does the fellowship demand?
A. We're still putting into place what commitments should be in place for the fellowship program. We think a lot about community hours, workshops and business leadership business. Since we are the first, we are setting all the ground rules for the program.
Q. So what's next for you, Gayle?
A. “I’m interested in a leadership position,” Ocampo notes. “Attending different leadership classes in the Xtern program opened my eyes on how to become a better leader by being more efficient and showed me what it really takes to succeed in the business world.” She adds that the TechPoint program exposed her to presentations from entrepreneurs like Interactive Intelligence founder Don Brown and former ExactTarget chief Scott Dorsey. “Dorsey spoke a lot about the culture and how important it is for the company to succeed,” Ocampo relays.