In the Stellar Auckland office we’re recently welcomed two new members to the team.

Matthew Jackson, 23, is a graduate support consultant. Angelo Alcantara, 21, is a graduate developer.

Both are both fresh from the University of Auckland. Although they went to the same school, their backgrounds, interests and strengths are quite different, so we thought it would be fun to get them together for a chat…

You’ve both graduated recently from the University of Auckland. I guess you knew each other there?

Angelo: I think I might have seen Matthew once or twice at a lecture.

Matthew: Yeah, I didn’t come to class all the time. 🙂

To be fair though, you were in different programmes…

Angelo: Yes, I did a joint degree in Information Systems and Computer Science. IS includes more of the business side, mixing IT concepts with business concepts, whereas CS is technical and scientific.

Matthew: I did a Bachelor of Music, in classical singing, then a Graduate Diploma in Computer Science.

Wow, that’s a big change in direction!

Matthew: Well, I wasn’t that into music. I like it, but it’s just not for me. So I switched to Computer Science.

What about your early years. Where did you grow up?

Angelo: I was born in Auckland, and I really like it here. My parents moved here from the Philippines maybe 25 years ago.

Matthew: I was born in Leeds, in the UK, and my family moved to Auckland when I was five, so you may have noticed that some of my words have a bit of an English accent.

Angelo, what got you interested in studying Information Systems and Computer Science?

Angelo: I was good at maths, but in high school at that time no one was teaching computer science – like coding. My parents are both programmers, and I saw their work and it seemed pretty sweet. So I thought that kind of work should be “bearable”.

I’m a logical thinker, and there’s a lot of that in comp sci. I also wanted to delve into the business side, so that’s why I studied Information Systems.

Plus I thought that career path would give me flexibility.

When did you write your first computer programme?

Angelo: In my first year of computer science at uni.

So you weren’t doing it as a teenager at home?

Angelo: No, I used to play competitive basketball so that took up a lot of my high school life!

And Matthew, once you decided that you weren’t going to be a singer, what drew you to computer science?

Matthew: I’d always loved computer games (Dad brought home World of Warcraft when it first came out in 2004). And I enjoyed problem-solving, setting up routers, and so on.

I probably should have done a course in IT infrastructure – that’s more my interest. Computer Science is very theoretical – it’s science! The role I’m in now is great for me, because it’s sort of half IT and half computer science.

So what’s it like, landing in your first job out of university?

Angelo: One month in, I’m finding it good in terms of pace, but I know things are going to speed up. I’m getting a lot of help. I’m learning quite a lot already, and way faster than at uni! You’re forced to learn here.

Right now I’m working on an internal “query intelligence” product. I’m developing in C#. All the coding languages I learned at uni, we only touched on the surface. Coming into this job, I knew some C# syntaxes and structures, but now I’m getting much more comfortable and doing tasks a lot faster.

Matthew: One of the big things I’m learning is about helping to support Stellar’s clients with their SQL solutions – in addition to providing IT support within Stellar. I’ve been able to work on a couple of bigger tasks such as deploying Azure Active Directory Connect which integrates the local directory with our Azure directory, and allows us to keep our passwords more uniform and easy to manage even when staff are out of the office. It’s great to be learning so much and getting hands on IT experience.

Angelo: The things I’m working on right now are helping me understand what our clients want and need. I really do want to become a business intelligence consultant.

What appeals to you about the BI industry?

Angelo: Well, I could tell you about how I got this job.

Yes please!

Angelo: I didn’t find any job listings from Stellar, but I found (Stellar partner) John McDermott on Linked In. I sent him an email letting him know that I had done well in a BI paper at uni, and wanted to get into the industry. He invited me in for talk which led to a job.

I think the BI industry is about to boom and there’s going to be a shortage of BI experts. I find it fascinating that with the boatload of data that’s available to us now, we can extract so much information. It’s captivating.

Thanks guys! Any words of advice for the students a year or two behind you?

Angelo: Have fun – especially in first year. Things get harder as you go on.

Matthew: And you really should go to class. 😉

Matthew Jackson (left) and Angelo Alcantra

Matthew Jackson (left) and Angelo Alcantara