As we assess applications for candidates for the Shoal Internship 2021 program, we thought we’d share some insights into this year’s application process and the applications we have received. The Shoal Internship Program 2021 offers a 12 week, paid internship for two undergraduate engineering / maths students to join our team in Adelaide. The successful applicants will work closely with a technical supervisor to explore solutions and be mentored and supported by our team across the business, from senior systems engineers to our recent graduates.

The application process

Our internship application process is quite novel. We ask our applicants to pair up and answer a tough question via a 60 second video, which is assessed along with their CVs and a cover letter. This team-based approach lends itself well to Shoal’s culture and the type of work we do – we are always working together and building on each other’s ideas. This year’s question was:

Can you relocated the population of Perth to Darwin on one tonne of carbon emissions?”

There was no ‘correct answer’ for this question, creativity is key. We were keen to understand what assumptions were made and what parts of the problem were considered. At Shoal, it is often that such broad and undefined questions are posed. Systems thinking is essential in understanding this problem – this is the quality we are looking for in our applicants.

Our applications – demographics

This year we received an outstanding 76 applications (teams of two, 152 students). Detail often reveals a bigger story – so we’ve drilled into the demographics of our applicants; these insights are summarised below.

The engineering profession is working to attract and retain more women, as industry participation is currently skewed towards men. At Shoal, we promote women in engineering by working with universities to present and mentor students, and getting involved in STEM outreach programs, so we were interested in our efforts to attract female applicants. Gender statistics from an Engineers Australia’s report: Australia’s next generation of engineers: University statistics for engineering 2020, found that the additional supply of engineers from domestic university course completions in engineering was 8,444, with 16.8% being women. Of our total internship program applicants, 24.5% were female (we have rounded up in the graphic below). This is an excellent result, and we will continue to promote and invest in women in engineering to balance out these numbers even further.

Shoal Internship 2021 - Gender

This analysis also investigated the universities in which our applicants were studying. We received applications from 13 universities, across five states and territories (SA, VIC, NSW, QLD and ACT), with the majority coming from our headquarter’s location of Adelaide.

Shoal Internship 2021 - Uni stats

Our applications – video responses

Our video responses were very diverse and effectively highlighted the systems thinking capability of our applications. The Shoal team found it very enjoyable to understand how various teams approached the problem. The teams pitched their ideas and calculated emissions to come up with their answers. In the end, 64% felt that it was possible to move the population of Perth to Darwin on one tonne of carbon emissions, while the rest felt that it wasn’t and they each justified their answers. Great responses considered a broad range of aspects, from the technology and logistics of moving people, to the environmental impact of obtaining the materials needed, the infrastructure requirements of both cities, and even the social and regulatory impacts on both communities involved. The most popular mode of transport, to relocate the population of Perth to Darwin, was by ship. Here are the range of answers:

Shoal Internship 2021 - Solution stats

In addition to the modes of transport, there were also some very creative responses that included turning de-populated Perth into a carbon sink or bikes that sow seeds as they’re ridden. There were also great communicators that made use of slides, visuals and diagrams, and even user needs and systems requirements! Shoal is very impressed with the quality and calibre of these responses.

Where to from here?

In the coming weeks, successful applications will be interviewed and our final team selected for our Internship Program!