Life as a Ribit Intern

Name: Neenah Gray
Studying: Ancient History, Macquarie University

Neenah Gray joined the ribit team in late 2017 for a six week internship as an Indigenous Cadet. She came back in June 2018 to put together a collection of interviews and stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander entrepreneurs and founders. Neenah blogs about her first six weeks experience here.

Week 1: Thought leadership, Millennial 20/20 and Women in Technology events

Day 1

Tuesday was an exciting day to commence my internship with the Ribit Team. I had to be in the office by 9:00am to toddle off to a conference at Carriage Works called Millennial 20/20 which incorporated keynote speakers from various industries on the topic of engaging people between the ages of 18-35 on their data/technology driven businesses.

This opportunity I was rather excited for as I was able to immerse myself in new information spoken from CEO’s and Directors of extraordinary companies such as Mark Noler, the Co-Founder & CEO of ‘Afterpay’. It was a chance to not only see what’s going on in the world of innovation in Australia but it also gave Ribit a chance to connect and be inspired on an individual and business level.

Day 2

This morning I was asked by Liz Jakubowski, our Director at Ribit to do the Acknowledgement to Country (not a Welcome, as this is not my traditional land) an event called “Women in Tech”, which starred very prominent people inside and out of CSIRO- including Data61’s own CEO Adrian Turner. A speaker who I was particularly moved by, Karen Lawson, CEO Slingshot Accelerator, was posed with the question of “What is the biggest challenge facing women in tech?” She says simply and powerfully “It’s you” changing the question of “how can we help women”. Diversity will remain an open question until such a time as the ‘normative’ does not shape our views.

I will close this entry with a quote from Irene Hsieh, President of the UTS Engineering Society (and fourth year Engineering student) from her visit to Microsoft where they were developing gaming systems and software for people with disabilities. “When you do not deliberately or intentionally include, you will unintentionally exclude”.

Week 2: Learning the elevator pitch, Data61 Summer Scholars Showcase and Indigenous Founders Project

Day 1

There are some new faces in the building this morning as Data61 have opened their doors to the Summer Scholarships program. Both myself and Nick Dodd, Year 11 work experience students currently on placement with Ribit accompanied Liz to connect and network with a few students doing their undergrad degrees. We introduced ourselves and the Ribit platform and they had a chance to introduce themselves and what initiatives they are working on during their placement.

Although this short encounter was quite confronting I feel as though it is an incredibly useful skill to have- one’s ability to be able to work, think and act/react under pressure. The Summer Scholars are here doing some very interesting projects that are far beyond my skill set. It’s really nice to see young people as such being encouraged by others to nurture the skills that they have & extend them even further.

Day 6

I have been in the midst of completing a task that requires interviewing Indigenous Founders of start-ups and assess how culture has shaped their start-ups. I thought I would be able to gain some personal inspiration from the task as well. After finalising my LinkedIn account and coming across one very prominent person who has done amazing things in the past year – I decided to take a shot and email them. Assuming they might be too busy, my assumption were correct – I was left with this awful feeling of rejection, thinking that I had made a fool of myself to a prominent Aboriginal businessman. Despite my rejection, I couldn’t take it too much to heart, and I learnt that you can’t when you’re in that sort of position. You accept their response and continue with the task you are working on.

Day 7

Today I attended an Innovation event in Town Hall called Capital Connections. I listened to women on an international level talk about their career trajectories and the motivations behind their start-ups. I feel as though female empowerment on any level is always essential. I engaged in new topics of conversation which I was really nervous about. The last part of this event was dedicated to networking which I found very confronting. To find the courage to go up to someone and to start talking with them about a certain initiative is quite daunting, but as soon as you get the conversation flowing, you are in the clear. I received the details of two women. I was quite thrilled that people were so open to simply just having a chat with me and potentially giving me direction.

The main point that I got from that afternoon was in regards to mentoring. Mentoring, described by the women on the panel is not a direct ask but the ask for direction of a specific task that occurs overtime.

Week 3: Speed Networking for Jobs Ribit-style!

Day 11

Today was a rather adventurous and exhilarating day as the entire Ribit Team took off to Stone & Chalk, a fintech co-working space in the city, for my first taste of a speed dating for jobs event. I was unsure of what to expect but was taken away by the adrenalin and the enthusiasm of everyone there, students, businesses, fellow Ribit staff members – it was a really awesome initiative. What I was most impressed by was the performance everyone put on. It wasn’t like your normal job interview experience- everyone was excited, but yet quite anxious, and very keen for the coming opportunities to simply network.

Here, I was able to once again do the Acknowledgement to Country and I had the honour of ringing the bell once every round had been completed to inform everyone to rotate around the room. It was a blast to connect with various students similar in age- I was blown away with the things people have already achieved at such a young age. It was also a great opportunity for us Ribit Team, especially the interns to connect with each other more. Speed dating is an awesome and fun way to endure a job interview. It takes the boring process out, adding a fun environment in which people can be more relaxed when showcasing themselves.

Week 4: A typical work week, passion projects and more speed-networking

Day 15

This morning in the office I was introduced to our new Indigenous Cadet Emily Spinks who is working with the Ribit Team for the duration of her placement. It’s exciting as we have the potential to work on tasks together, as well as connect on a cultural level. We also discovered that we both attend the same university – small world!

There are 16 other Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cadets that come under CSIRO – who are harvesting & nurturing their skills through their placements. Bringing more awareness to this initiative, Emily & I were posed with the task of interviewing the other cadets and later collaborating it into a little video. We wrote a proposal for the task that afternoon and had a smoothie as I showed her around the building. I’m very excited to be working with our new cadet.

Day 16 and 17

I’ve had two important days occur, as I have been interviewing Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Founders of businesses for my chosen blog piece. Already speaking to one quite prominent man, I was confident that the next two interviews were going to run smoothly. And they did. The people I have been connecting with aren’t just located here in Sydney but they have been from up and down the east coast of Australia, primarily in Brisbane, and interviewing an old friend from the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. And that is what I felt like these people were perspiring – Indigenous excellence. It’s something that is downplayed in society today.

I was more than inspired throughout the interviews as the legacies of their elders were reflected in their philosophies that were the foundations of their business.

Day 18

Today was a rather short day in the office as my fellow interns and myself were off to help Ribit Event Manager, Clare Matuska with setting up and co-ordinating the space at the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, for a cyber security speed networking event. I was quite keen to help out with the next, and see what the turn out would be. As a collective we helped set out the space to how Clare envisioned it and as people started to come through we greeted them.

This event, unlike the Stone & Chalk started late afternoon and finished up just before it got too dark. It was an excellent turn out too – with positive vibes wrapped in nerves, and everyone was dressed to the nines- great stuff! People from all sorts of degrees under S.T.E.M were present and keen to showcase themselves. There was so much enthusiasm running around the room the time flew by really quickly. Before you knew it, I was ringing the bell to announce the last extra bonus round and we were leaving the space to eat the pizza that was provided. All in all, I feel as though the concept of “Speed Dating” takes the pressure off a job interview, and adds a little bit of fun to the mixture.

Week 5: Reflecting back over my time

Day 24

This week wasn’t too eventful, as I have been collaborating my interviews with the Indigenous Founders of businesses and helping around the office doing some odd jobs. After 5 really intense weeks of running around to events and also doing my own tasks of various meetings and writing blog pieces. Being at Ribit is a continuous learning curve for me on numerous levels. Being outside the S.T.E.M field, I feel as though I am always learning new concepts, getting excited over new technologies and innovations that are always driving our future initiatives, and us as people. Although I do not entirely understand the intricate details, I am always open to learning new things and have now become more comfortable with asking questions, even though they may seem dumb at the time.

Week 6: Tying up loose ends

Day 27

As my internship comes to a close, and everyone starts to get ready for the Christmas holidays- the theme of the week is we’re “tying up loose ends”. In collaboration with my own Writing Task that I have entitled Past, Present and Future I have been finishing up my other writing pieces as well as helping generally around the office.

To reflect, I have had a very exhilarating time over the last six weeks from rushing around to attend events, prepping for events Ribit has been hosting as well as organising my own tasks in the meantime.

The Ribit Team are an amazing one – everyone here does such awesome things I cannot compare myself to. Being at Ribit has set me the foundations I need to enter into the Big Bad World. I am also thankful to Liz, our Director here, who has taken her time to make sure that each of us are looked after, and are always harvesting our skills to the best of our ability.