Written by Mikenzie Ginsberg, iX Coding ’14 – University of Michigan
It was a little over a year ago when I received a mass email from a club that I had no association with, promoting a new coding “boot camp” called iXperience Tech Academy in Cape Town, South Africa. I am a business major. Before I got that email, learning how to code was the last thing on my to-do list, but Cape Town was the next destination on my travel list. I figured at best, at iXperience, I would discover my new found passion for coding, and at worst, I would spend 2 months in a beautiful city. Flash forward to the present day and I could not be more thankful that my travel bug got the best of me and lured me to attend iXperience.
I can confidently say, had I not taken a leap with iX, and instead gotten a traditional internship last summer, I would not have landed an internship at Tech Private Equity Firm, Insight Venture Partners this summer.
When I left Cape Town last summer, I was hoping to find clarity about what I wanted to do with my life. Yet, I actually ended up more confused than before I left. Although I enjoyed learning how to code, I knew I could rule it out as a career (I saw it as more of a hobby). What I did realize though was that I wanted a career that involved both business and technology. This is actually much harder than it sounds. I could go to a technology firm, like Google or Facebook, and take on a business role, but the internships there were limited to marketing and sales roles, both of which was not what I was looking for. I could go to a financial institution and try out more of a technical role, but my interest in tech did not seem to match the culture or roles at many of the banks I interviewed with. After endless research and countless applications for jobs across all sectors and industries, I concluded that this perfect intersection of tech and business was just not practical, at least for an analyst role.
Before I discovered Insight, I had never really considered a career in Private Equity. Most firms only hire investment bankers with at least 2 years of experience, and I go to bed at 11pm every night, so although it seemed like a great field, I never saw it as a viable option for myself. However, Insight Venture Partners is one of very few firms that hire right out of college, and they happen to be listed on my school’s career site. When I saw that they invest in software and web-based companies, my hope in finding a career involved in both business and technology was restored and I knew this was the perfect job for me.
I’ve given a lot of thought into why iX was so valuable to me, specifically with the job search process. I can’t say I got the job because of the programming skills I gained, or even the means of logical thinking I adopted. I can’t say it was the network of amazing students and mentors I acquired, or learning how to adapt to a foreign environment. I can’t say it was any one of those aspects of my summer that were critical to me ending up at Insight, because it was all of them. That is why iXperience was truly the most valuable way for me to spend my summer. Whether it was spending 12+ hours coding at the iX house or jumping off the highest bungee bridge in the world, I can honestly say the knowledge and experiences I gained during my time in Cape Town allowed me to expand my interests and equip myself with the skills I needed to land a job at Insight this summer.