(From left to right: Intern Akash Dutta, Intern Nivetha Ramakrishnan and Director of Engineering and IT Sujit Maharana.) 

When it comes to student data analytic tools, knowing what to do with the information makes a huge difference for teachers and their students. Hoonuit, an education technology company that provides teacher learning support and analytic insights, goes a step beyond simply identifying that a student might be struggling by backing up each report with proposed solutions for how to help them improve.

The Hoonuit daily learning assist helps promote educators’ professional development and certification, while the insights tool acts as a teacher’s aide to collecting and reviewing student performance data.

The ‘Critical’ Factor
To help make all this possible, there’s a lot of software engineering, research and development that needs to take place behind the scenes. That’s why Sujit Maharana, Hoonuit’s director of Engineering and IT, decided to turn to the SciTechsperience Internship Program to bring on some extra talent.

Nivetha Ramakrishnan, a software engineering major at the University of Minnesota, applied to Hoonuit after she found its internship posting on the SciTech job board. In Ramakrishnan’s interview, Maharana asked her to write a program on the spot, watching as she coded.

“And she did it!” Maharana recalled. “It was very impressive.”

Once Ramakrishnan started her internship, she continued to deliver with similarly exceptional results. While she gained exposure to industry-level R&D, she helped Maharana and his team figure out how best to incorporate the incoming data from multiple schools and external systems, making sure it all synced correctly with the Hoonuit software.

“Nivetha has been critical to helping us launch into this very different and new market,” Maharana said. “She helped us plug our analytics back into their systems in order to help our customers.”

Not long after she was hired, Ramakrishnan suggested that her classmate Akash Dutta, also a software engineering major at the U, apply for a Hoonuit internship as well. After passing the same coding test that she had, he joined the team.

The More You Know
Before Dutta and Ramakrishnan could start coding, they needed to learn how Hoonuit’s code base worked. To accommodate their understanding, Maharana gave his interns time to explore the system so they could learn what they needed in order to work on their tasks more effectively.

“I lapped up everything I could, which also helped me learn how a company works,” Dutta recalled.“ As long as I’m learning, I’m happy.”

Ramakrishnan and Dutta rotated around departments, assisting different team members with different tasks, learning about different responsibilities and seeing how they all came together during the daily company scrum meetings.

After working with every department, Dutta said, “The full circle was complete. I could see, ‘oh, these are the changes that I made, and this is where it’s helping the company.’ So now I understand why my work is important.”

Experience Gained, Impact Made
When Maharana started looking for interns, he said, he knew he wanted to bring in individuals who understood the impact of the company and whose careers could improve because of this internship experience.

“It was one of those early days [in the internship] when a customer explained that the work I was doing was very crucial,” Ramakrishnan recalled. “It was a lot of pressure but it felt good, and I felt that I was making a difference.”

“My most memorable moment was when my first code went into production,” Dutta said. “I will always remember that part, where I made changes that effected other people.”

Get Involved
Learn more about the SciTechsperience Internship Program, apply online and create your own meaningful internships that support your company and Minnesota’s growing STEM workforce.

Small Minnesota companies receive up to $2,500 to help pay a STEM intern. At least 350 wage matches are available through August 2019.

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