(Kidblog CEO Matthew Hardy and Intern Charlot Shaw)
Nine years ago, Matthew Hardy was a 4th grade teacher working in the Eden Prairie school district. His background in computer programming inspired him to create an online response to the the end-of-semester “paper problem” and the plethora of printed worksheets that would build up throughout the school year.
Hardy’s solution was Kidblog: a safe, student publishing tool that helps K-12 students get feedback from their peers while creating an online portfolio of their classwork. Whether it’s a book report or art project, Hardy said, “Kidblog is a canvas for whatever we may be working on.”
Running Kidblog as the company’s CEO has since become Hardy’s full-time job. Working out of the WeWork space in Uptown, he oversees a team of seven, which includes SciTech Software Engineering Intern, Charlot Shaw.
“It’s been a little interesting…. Okay, a lot interesting, working with Kidblog,” said Shaw, who was initially brought on to help the team “figure out how everything fits together on the programming side.” Shaw also developed and launched a new teacher onboarding tool for the platform, which is now helping roughly 33 people within the Kidblog system.
“Charlot picked things up quite quickly,” Hardy said. “They were very productive very soon, and they had just the right amount of independence while also knowing when to ask for help.”
A company to come back to
Shaw first applied for a Kidblog internship last summer, but was unable to join the team since their intern position at the time had been filled. Shaw’s interest in working with a company that’s “doing good in the world” inspired them to return and apply this summer as well.
“As an employer, that’s really nice,” Hardy said. “The more you can demonstrate why you want to work with a company, and not just why a company should hire you, that goes a long way.”
Hiring Shaw was made easier when Hardy decided to go through the SciTech Internship program, which reimburses employers for 50 percent of their intern’s wages, up to $2,500 per student.
Since Kidblog’s clientele are almost all teachers, activity and sales over the summer can tend to dwindle. With SciTech’s help, Hardy said, “being able to fund this internship has been a meaningful incentive.”
Rabbit holes and bug tracking
Shaw’s internship has just begun, but already they’ve encountered some intriguing challenges. Knowing when to delve into the occasional “bottomless rabbit hole” of problem solving and when to step back is just one of many experiences to come.
“The mark of a resilient programmer is someone who can track down a bug for days,” Hardy said. “A good programmer then looks at it and says, ‘ah, isn’t that an interesting conundrum we discovered!’ It’s a good sign that Charlot has a long career ahead of them.”
Trekking with SciTech
This summer we’re hitting the road, driving across our great state to visit as many SciTech interns and companies as we can!
Look for #TrekkingwithSciTech to stay up to date with our summer adventures. And be sure to tweet us your Minnesota site-seeing recommendations so Champ can take a selfie when we get there!