Tech Gym: first credit-bearing internship startup at UTS
UTS is renowned for innovation in learning so you're ready for the future of work by creating your own job or jobs for others. But how about creating your own internship?
One of the latest learning experiences gives students the opportunity to gain credit for an internship subject by working on their own venture as part of the 'Build a Startup' addition to the UTS Startup Internships program.
UTS Startups student founder, Rowan Smith of Tech Gym, is the first student to jump on the Build a Startup offering. Tech Gym, cofounded with fellow student Thirunisha Thirumurugan, is a robotic rehabilitation company assisting physiotherapists and stroke patients through the process, which emerged from the Faculty of Engineering and IT, Summer Studio.
Before joining UTS Startups, Rowan was interning long hours for a renowned engineering firm but the call to work on Tech Gym grew stronger.
"I got thinking, I can't sit here all day and then work on Tech Gym at night. What will it take to make Tech Gym an actual internship? I want to do this full time during the day and I want to get into something like an accelerator program or UTS Startups," recalls Rowan.
Within one night, Rowan wrote a four page proposal about how working on his startup qualified him to meet all the required standards and how he would ultimately complete this, along with a six month outline of intended milestones. Little did he realise that UTS Innovation and Entrepreneurship was already working to bring the 'Build a Startup' pathway into fruition.
An hour after receiving confirmation to work on his own startup for his internship subject, Rowan sent in his resignation to the engineering firm.
I left a paid job to come work for myself. It was purely just that Tech Gym was more interesting, engaging and actually worthwhile doing.
He and cofounder Thirunisha then joined the UTS Startups community and the momentum continued from there.
"I'm just blown away with how much support we get. The [collaboration] space is really nice. The community and the vibe from everyone is phenomenal."
Rowan recommends going beyond your faculty to bring a fresh perspective to your work, in line with the UTS collaborative and transdisciplinary approach to programs like UTS Startups.
"You've got so many disciplines, so many backgrounds, and so much experience down here. It's great! Everyone asks, 'Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?' Sometimes, I'm like, 'I don't even know what you just said, but I'm going to Google it.'"
Within the first two weeks of joining UTS Startups, the Tech Gym team met with an accelerator program and investors. This highlighted the blunt, yet constructive realities of investor and industry expectations, which Rowan and Thirunisha are taking on board to progress to their next big goals.
"Our main milestone would be to have an MVP (minimum viable product) out by the end of summer. The particular medical advice that we're trying to get is around the Therapeutical Goods Administration regulations and laws and how to go to a clinical trial."
Building relationships and networks are essential for student startups to reach their goals such as these. A key part of the UTS Startups program, the regular check-in with the Startups team, helps founders with their next steps and further helps connect them to industry and the wider startup ecosystem.
Working on your own startup as an internship may be unconventional but for Rowan it's a win/win. He's able to work full-time on his startup, still acquire the units needed for his degree and be doing work meaningful to him.
Through initiatives like UTS Startups, Startup Internships and the support from UTS faculties, Tech Gym have been able to explore their own educational paths, unique to their ambitions, abilities and passions whilst advancing their startup.
By Lourdes Millare, UTS Startups