(Left to right: Sophia Moschkau (intern), Saleena Ly (intern), and Dan Ward (VP of Product Development))

About twenty years ago, Dan Ward interned as a software developer at a very large multi-national company in Burnsville. Today he’s the VP of Product Development for the much smaller MHC Software, but when he went in to apply for his current position, he was struck with a sense of déjà vu. Both companies, the old and the new, were housed in the same building. In a way, Ward was returning to his roots, and bringing his past experiences with him.

His time at that internship long ago taught him the importance of providing interesting projects to students who are getting their first look at professional computing. As such, he kept this learning in mind when the opportunity arose to bring on interns at MHC Software this summer.

The velocity of innovation
To help them with this task, MHC turned to the SciTech Internship Program. One of Ward’s colleagues first heard about SciTech on the radio a few months ago and asked him to check into it.

MHC Software used the program to hire two students: Sophia Moschkau, a senior majoring in Chemistry and Math at the University of Alabama, and Saleena Ly, who is going into her senior year in Computer Science and Statistics at St. Thomas University.

“We use interns for several reasons,” said Ward. “It helps the tech community and we benefit from the fresh mindset of people coming into our company. They help us increase the velocity of innovation.” 

Making an impact
MHC creates software products for enterprise document creation and management for businesses – things like payroll checks, POs, invoicing and payments. While working with MHC, both Ly and Moschkau have had opportunities to roll up their sleeves and test the company’s products.

“I’m creating an automatic regression test for software updates,” explained Ly.    

Moschkau has been testing software as well, examining updates to make sure they are compatible against current versions. “When I give feedback on the user experience,” Moschkau said, “the changes show up in the next version of the software. It’s great to have that kind of impact as an intern.”

Both students have found great value in working for a smaller, innovation-focused company. In addition to seeing the impact they’re able to make firsthand, they’ve also enjoyed the camaraderie of working on a small team.

 Activities like the summer cookout standout as memorable for both students. This was especially true for Moschkau, who won the salsa competition. Ward says MHC Software hosts these kinds of activities because they understand how important is to like the people they work with.

A great resource for finding STEM internships
When Ward hired Ly through SciTech, he utilized the database’s recruitment feature by searching student profiles for qualified applicants. “It’s so much easier to use SciTech than doing career fair ‘road shows’ to hunt for interns,” Ward said. “We’ll definitely use the program again.”

Luckily for MHC Software and other SciTech participants, the beginning of the new program year is just around the corner. Starting September 1, Ward can use the database to find more talent, while Moschkau and Ly can search for more industry opportunities within their home state.

“This program is great – paid internships are so difficult to find,” Moschkau said. Going away to school in Alabama, she added “made me realize how much I love Minnesota and want to come back here.”