The summer 2021 internship class is exploring the world of low code through Microsoft Power Platform. Their work, and insights, will correlate with MetroStar’s Client Solutions Group’s (CSG) discovery of the strengths, opportunities, and future of Power Platform and low coding in the Government space.
It's summer. That means pool days, vacations, ice cream for dessert, and of course, intern season. MetroStar's 2021 summer internship class features six university students from across the nation.
During their 10-week virtual internship, the students will be working on Microsoft Power Platform—a low code platform that spans Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and standalone applications. Low code is a user-friendly introduction to software development and allows users to automate every step of a product’s lifecycle.
With Power Platform, MetroStar can use existing data, Microsoft products, and third-party products to rapidly create new applications that add value to various agencies. Existing technology investments can be reused by connecting them to the Power Platform using certified or custom connectors. Using Salesforce instead of Dynamics 365? No problem, Power Platform connects to both.
Emerging technology and agile leaders at MetroStar, Niels and Emily, will be overseeing the intern program. The pair’s expertise will lead the interns to learn strong technical skills this summer and gain an in-depth insight into the agile process, Power Platform, and the inner workings of MetroStar.
Power Platform is a set of low code tools (Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents) that help teams maintain an agile process and quickly build technology solutions for customers.
Many government agencies are working towards creating a more streamlined and accessible process for their digital tools and resources. This immense effort across government is meant to help agencies move away from paper-based processes and provide digital services that are usable and intelligent. Understanding Power Platform and low code software will help future generations of innovators create resources that connect people digitally.
A key reason to invest time in learning Power Platform products is their user-friendly aspects. Power Platform requires minimal coding experience from the user. This is important because according to Microsoft, 500 million new apps will be needed in the next five years, which is five times more mobile apps than current developers can realistically create. With a lack of qualified developers to tackle that magnitude of app creation, it is vital to teach new generations low or no code platforms. This will decrease the gap between the product demand and the developers available to help.
To Code or Not to Code
Coding skills are still essential, but low code opens the floor up to Citizen Developers. Citizen Developer is a term coined by Microsoft that describes people who are not coders but are tech-savvy and want to build more complex applications. With low code and Power Platform, Citizen Developers and professional developers alike can quickly build impressive applications that help organizations reach their goals.
During this internship, the interns will use Power Platform to take on common technology challenges faced by the government sector and learn how agencies interact with their constituents. A Power Platform solution can range from streamlining internal business needs to impacting everyday citizens (For example: An everyday citizen may need a more streamlined application process for applying to a government assistance program—Power Platform can help agencies build that).
The need for professional developers is still important, as they provide extra functionality to Citizens Developers. "Where Citizen Developers hit a limitation, they can work with professional developers to take their project one step further, thus making their applications look and feel the way they really want them to,” Niels said.
The Larger Impact of Power Platform in Work and Government
As the nation starts to navigate the return to in-person work, Power Platform is at the center of a hybrid workplace.
The growing demand for digital solutions and resources became much larger during the COVID-19 pandemic. Low code platforms help developers move faster, collaborate better, and deliver secure and efficient results—all while working from their home network. Even remotely, Power Platform helps developers create rich user experiences and automate repetitive tasks without compromising security.
MetroStar’s Client Solutions Group (CSG) is developing research behind the future of low code and how it specifically impacts government agencies. “Many agencies currently use Microsoft programs, so utilizing Power Platforms will quickly add more value to the customer’s goals and pinpoint new solutions,” Niels said.
As the need for low code tools increase across multiple industries, learning low code development such as Power Platform will prepare our interns to develop innovative business applications for any industry.
"The end goal of the internship is for each student to earn an industry certificate (Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals), which will help set them up to become the next generation of developers,” Niels said. “They will be learning something new and in-demand. They will be problem-solving, learning the development process, data modeling, and gaining insights on how to build technology solutions for the government."
The internship incorporates a soft-agile approach to help the interns acclimate to iterative and incremental development. “No matter the project, agile encourages open communication, self-organization, accountability, and rapid, high-quality delivery of solutions,” Emily said.
While the overarching goals and values of an agile process remain the same, it is important to remember agile is adaptable and looks different from one project to another.
“One of our goals is to familiarize the interns with the fundamentals of the agile approach so that as they progress through the program they are able to move into a more mature agile model,” Emily said.
A strong technical-based internship is rigorous, but it provides real-life skills to students and sets them up for their careers. "I am rooting for all of them. I really hope the interns feel they are getting the most out of this summer and that this internship is a jumping-off point to jump-start their careers in IT," Niels said.
Interested in Microsoft Power Platforms and how they can help fulfill your organization’s mission? Ask our experts.
Emily is a Scrum Master at MetroStar. She drives the adoption and enforcement of agile methods with the internal MetroStar team as well as with customers.
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