What our Summer Students taught us
With brand-new pencils sharpened and lunch bags packed, our kids (for the most part) were eager to be back at school, reconnecting with friends and ready for new adventures. This fall we also saw our two summer freelance/intern students head back to school.
Reflecting on the past three months, some of my most memorable experiences have been working with our summer students. Although both of our students joined us for an opportunity to gain work experience, I think we actually learned more from them. Here are four reasons on why hiring summer students was one of our best decisions so far:
1. Flexibility - At Kidictive, we don't work 9 to 6 by design. Our business model is built around a schedule that meets our needs as business partners and parents. We were worried that our sometime eclectic availability would leave our students without support when they needed it. In fact, our ability to be flexible worked perfectly into a freelance, project based model for our students. By creating projects, rather than 'office hours' our students were able to schedule their work around camps, vacations and time with their own friends and family creating balance between enjoying summer and gaining work experience.
2. Innovation - I am a firm believer that diversity brings creativity and the ability to bring a different perspective to the table through a different age/life-stage was tremendous. Timur, only years off our target market of 5-12 year olds, brought direct experience to offer around game design and engagement and Renee, as a ski instructor, coaches kids that are just at the right age to inspire her illustrations. Collaboratively, we ended up with concepts that were significantly better than what we could have developed without their input.
3. Talent - Although neither of our students have yet to enter university (much less graduate), the eagerness of both of them to take on challenges beyond their formal training speaks volumes for their future potential. In order to allow our students to be successful, we knew it would be important to give them ample time to figure things out, provide direct feedback to help them evolve and be there when they needed us. We do feel very lucky to have found Timur and Renee, both of these exceptional students needed very little guidance and produced top quality work that will become a core part of our MVP.
4. Giving Back - Both Laura and I have been very fortunate in our careers to work with amazing mentors and have benefitted from our years of work experience. The joy of providing opportunities to these two students has, without question, been the best part of working with them. It is sometimes easy to forget what it is like to have your first contract, need to learn how to create an invoice, build a proposal or present your work for judgement. We truly hope that Timur and Renee gained as much from working at Kidictive as we did having them work for us.
Instead of hearing it from us, we asked our students what they thought of their summer experience and we though we'd share their words:
"It was a blast. I was hoping for a part-time job position where my effort
didn't feel useless, and where I could get meaningful experience working under someone else. I learned that working can be a great source of fulfillment in the summer, and that your first job does not have to be boring." (We are really glad you had fun, Timur!)
Timur Khayrullin, Intern Game Developer
"I have come to know my strengths as an artist and as a person in general. I’ve learned to engage with coworkers and clients along with incorporating their point of view and feedback into my work. I truly believe that working at Kidictive is a stepping stone to my future endeavours. This has been such an amazing opportunity for me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better." (We feel the same way Renee!)
Renee Christensen, Freelance Illustrator
There is tremendous talent in our students and given the right opportunity and support system, they can play an integral part of our start up ecosystem. The next time you have an opportunity, take a student for coffee and discover what they might have to offer you.
About Timur Khayrullin and Renee Christensen
I met Timur Khayrullin, now entering Grade 11 at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, through a Tech Under Twenty (TU20) networking evening. Although we weren't looking to hire, after meeting Timur, I knew we wanted to work with him. We were able to pull forward one of our parked features and have him work with us to develop a prototype for a hyper-casual game model.
As my youngest's ski coach, I knew Renee Christensen was a great person with a solid work ethic. What I didn't know was that she was an artist and was entering her first year at University of Waterloo - Global Business and Digital Arts program. After a off chance meeting and subsequent conversation about her career aspirations, I knew that Renee was the person to illustrate and bring our avatar model to life.
About Kidictive Inc.
At Kidictive Inc., we are using technology to help kids get 'addicted' to the real world around them. We are developing KIDICTED™, a Mobile App for kids that uses gamification to inspire kids to engage in real world activities. The platform is packed with simple, accessible video based content designed to develop the whole kid - through PLAY, CREATION, IMAGINATION, DISCOVERY and CONNECTION.