Sophia: HEX Discovery/ Virtual Innovation Program (July 2021)

The Hacker Exchange Virtual programme was divided into daily stand up, lesson, workshop, discussion, social activity and mentor time. A checkpoint must be submitted every three days to ensure the student has kept up with the progress. The Hex team has created a website where students can find everything related to the programme, such as the programme schedule (with zoom links), the cohort, mentor portal, speaker list, submission portal and social activities, etc. Furthermore, there’s a page where students and mentors can post and interact. I picked it up quickly as the website was straightforward to use.

What I enjoyed the most is the workshops, such as the UI, VR/AR workshops. I had the opportunity to explore the technology world with some hands-on experiences. I also enjoyed hearing the global guest speakers from innovative multinational firms. They were very interactive and willing to share their experiences and provide us recommendations. I have gained deeper insights into the Asian & Pacific region’s business environments, technology ecosystems and start-ups from the Hacker Exchange APAC Innovation Programme. In just two weeks, I flexed my entrepreneurial skills, took my start-up concept from ideation to prototype, and had excellent pitching in front of real investors.

Meanwhile, I have developed diverse skills. This includes using lean canvas and business model, conducting market research, app design, rapid prototyping, etc. In particular, I experienced working on an international project while using a range of industry-standard tools and software and collaborated with a multidisciplinary team under pressure. Meanwhile, I developed some interpersonal skills by connecting with my mentors, cohort and global speakers proactively on Linkedin. Building confidence and communication were the key to develop interpersonal skills and networking. This will enable me to better connect with my colleagues, whether at the university or future workplace. Additionally, the skills I have developed in this virtual programme will enable me to apply to my studies as it’s quite relevant to what I’m learning now.

It was challenging to keep up with the daily lessons and activities. The programme was intensive as the schedule was packed. The programme started at 11am NZT and ended at 6pm-8pm everyday. Sometimes we have to spend additional time working on the research and checkpoints. Therefore, time management was crucial. The most challenging part of the programme was to deliver a high-standard business pitch to the real investors and audience in three minutes. The preparation time frame was short, but lots of things have to be covered. I had to step out of my comfort zone and pitch in front of many people, as well as Live on Youtube. This enabled me to become more confident now.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend students explore this virtual programme from any faculty. It will open up broader perspectives and opportunities which would be beneficial for their future career. They would harvest a lot of knowledge and skill within these two weeks. Lastly, thanks to Auckland University for sponsoring me this scholarship to attend this programme.

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