cognifide team playing with giant puzzle pieces

Bridging the gap between business and education

23 October 2019Magdalena Owsiana

Spider-man had Tony Stark. Luke Skywalker was schooled by Obi-Wan and Yoda. Harry Potter was taught by Albus Dumbledore and Marty McFly by Dr. Emmet Brown. All of them role models for their young apprentices. At Cognifide our interns and apprentices have their mentors too.

Each year we invite a group of talented students to participate in our Career Start Up internship programme, where they learn how their studies could translate into a career in technology. And that’s only the beginning.

Working with universities

Cognifide’s founders, Miro Walker and Stuart Dean chose Poznań in Poland, over other cities, to establish their start up when they founded Cognifide in 2005. There were several reasons, but one of the most important was the quality of education in the capital of the Greater Poland region.

With 25 universities (4 of them ranked in Poland’s top 20,according to Perspektywy 2019 rank) and over 110,000 students, Poznań is one of the strongest academic hubs in Poland. With this future talent pool on our doorstep, we’re always keen to engage with students as early as possible; providing lectures, collaborating with science groups and supporting meet-ups and student-led projects. For the last 8 years we have supported Poznań University of Technology as a member of its programme council, advising and consulting around the syllabus. Since 2018 we’ve been a partner of Adam Mickiewicz University, where we collaborate with the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Strengthening ties between business and education has always been a crucial part of our development strategy. In fact we now start much earlier, teaching primary school pupils about programming and providing Linux courses for technical secondary school students. The approach is beneficial to all round. This year, 4 of our secondary school students joined us for a summer internship and have stayed with us having graduating from it. The equation is simple; you benefit where you’ve invested.

It’s also proof positive that a company’s social engagement can have a very tangible benefit if there is a strong connection with its core area of expertise. Exploring the world of technology is what we do every day. And we are happy to share it with young talent.

Mentoring is key

“For me the most valuable thing is to learn best practices from experienced engineers”, “I had an opportunity to learn more about project ceremonies”, “I was working in business projects, taking responsibility for my own tasks”.

This is just some of the feedback from our 2019 interns. So how do we attract them? Our favourite part of the recruitment process is meeting students face to face; at lectures, job fairs and interviews. We focus these conversations on knowledge exchange. It’s a kind of meeting of minds where both parties want to discuss the newest trends in technology. Our interns appreciate that we rigorously follow the best in tech and they value the tools that we use in our everyday work. They can learn about the quality of code and the importance of the quality of work in general.

“In turn, we discover how business can feed the education sector,” says Anna Kamieniarz, Cognifide’s HR Specialist. “The work we do in all of our projects must be in line with the latest trends, modern tools and meet our clients’ requirements. We have access to enterprise-level solutions and we constantly improve our internal processes as well our approach to provide the best quality of delivered projects. This is all good stuff to pass down to those beginning their adventure in the world of technology.”

The Career Start Up programme

All students go through our induction programme, just like every other new starter at Cognifide. Thanks to over 30 high quality courses, provided by senior colleagues, this prepares them for on the job training. The courses take many different forms: presentations, training, workshops and e-learning; answering the needs of the younger generation. The diversity of channels and complexity of materials is highly valued by new starters.

Then every intern begins his or her work with the support of a designated mentor. Mentors combine two areas of competence: excellent technical skills and great management skills. They are also responsible for setting goals and providing valuable feedback. The objective is to be responsive and supportive but, at the same time, to nurture creativity and an independent way of thinking. Career Start Up graduates soon become valuable players within project teams. After only a year at Cognifide most of them can step into a junior developer role.

The internship programme allows young people to grow their technical skills and combine them with business skills. Interns explore various disciplines, allowing them to suss out what’s their best fit. This freedom of development results in some excellent career paths. Our interns from 2011 are now Senior Managers and Directors of Departments.

Success in numbers

Since Career Start Up was established in 2016, over 2000 students have applied for the programme. Over the last 4 years, 116 have joined Cognifide for an internship and, of those, 104 have become part-time or permanent employees. In 2019 our recruitment teams reviewed 956 applications, met with 498 people and chose 42 of the most accomplished students. Having successfully graduated from Career Start Up, they have all stayed with us.

Author: Magdalena Owsiana
Published: 23 October 2019
Tags:
cultureawardsfuture readyrecruitmentInclusion
 

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