“Cute but good”: how we took the students to practice

    Why did they decide to organize the practice, how did the children choose, what tasks did they set and what did they want to kill in the process.


    Once upon a time we had a bad experience working with students. Either they were not interested, or we had no time to deal with them - well, in general, something went wrong, and we decided not to arrange a practice. But as time went on, the company grew, it became increasingly difficult to find employees in Irkutsk, and we again began to look towards universities. The first time just went to the days of career. We sat in the corridor at the table, answered the students' questions, distributed business cards and candy. Someone who became interested, having already defended a diploma, came in for an interview, someone we took to work.

    In recent years, the state has obliged universities to communicate more with employers, and for us they began to organize meetings with students. At the lectures for several streams, the managers of development, technical support, marketing spoke about their work. The students listened, asked questions, and asked to practice. At first we fought back, but in the end we gave up and in 2017 took two second-year students. Zoya Laletina, then the release engineer, and now the project manager, dealt with them. According to her, everything went surprisingly well.

    For us, the sophomores are, of course, very children. We didn’t expect anything from them, because we didn’t know how in the first or second year. The boys, too, honestly admitted that they could not do anything, but after two or three days they began to succeed. Shurik and I (this is how the employees call the head of the development Alexander Bryukhanov. - Ed.) Assumed that in two weeks they would not do anything, but they had mastered everything, wrote and even managed to accomplish something else.

    Zoya Laletina, Project Manager

    In 2018, lectures evolved. Instead of stories about the company and “apples on Thursdays,” we talked about the technologies we work with: C ++, Java, Angular, etc. Usually 30–80 people attended such lectures, about ten of them remained, asked questions — some time ago , sometime less. After the meeting, students surrounded us, asked about the subject of the lecture, about work and, very often, about practice.

    A good student wants to find a place where you can do something close to the specialty, and not to shift documents from folder to folder (this is still often entrusted to trainees). We understood that we can show a lot to the children, and even against the background of stories about ourselves it was strange to refuse. We decided that the experience of 2017 should be continued, and this summer already eight guys were taken: three from the second year and five from the third. That's what came of it ...

    How students were selected

    We did not conduct any entrance tests. Last year, the interns were recommended by the deputy director of the Institute of Cybernetics, INRTU, we talked to them and invited us to the office. This year was about the same.

    Three guys from the second year (“little ones, but good ones”) were offered by a teacher from the State University - this was the first batch. In the second run, again on the recommendation of the university, they took two interns last year. Two others asked themselves and, when we had already closed the set, a teacher from another university tearfully asked to accept one "very good boy." Looking ahead, no one regretted this decision - at the end of the practice we took him to work.

    All trainees were interviewed, answered questions from Eychara and lead developer.
    At the interview I dreamed of seeing the fire in my eyes. To feel that a person is interested in what he will do - it is pleasant to work with such people. This fire was not at all, but we did not refuse anyone.

    Alexander Bryukhanov, Head of Development

    Who and how worked with trainees

    We distributed trainees around the office. Three completely green sophomores went to Dmitry Kuzmin, at that time the Timlide of the DCImanager backend. Alexander Bryukhanov looked after three third-year students. Two more third-year students who we already had last year went to Zoya Laletina in the new VMmanager. They were familiar with our processes, so they were included in the team. The rest of the guys worked independently of the teams, but in the offices with the developers.

    At first, I wanted the trainees to live according to Scrum, so that, like us at the stand-ups, they would tell about the work done during the day. But this turned out to be complete only with “repetition yearbooks”: their tasks were divided into subtasks, a full two-week sprint was released. Other interns then walked apart, then their leader did not have time to listen to them. For the second year students, the stand-up procedure itself was painful: at first they did not understand why all this was necessary (Dmitry Kuzmin had to spend a couple of introductory lectures), and then ... just suffered.

    We already got used to it: we got up, told who had done what. It was more difficult with students. "Well, guys, stand-up." I get up, they sit. I say: "Stand-up, get up!". They quietly-quietly rise. It was obvious that they were greatly embarrassed by the whole stand-up procedure.

    Dmitry Kuzmin, developer

    In general, mentors spent about an hour a day working with interns. Most of the time, the students themselves dealt with the task and almost did not seek advice. Mentors had to constantly offer help and even insist on it.

    This, in my opinion, is a lack of all students. They are afraid to ask, and it is not clear why. I say to them in plain language: you do not work for us, I can not fire you, and I can’t sign papers even today, if that makes life easier for you. But persuasion did not act. Maybe after the high school they all wanted to get a job with us and were afraid to spoil their opinions in advance. This is the only thing I can guess.

    Alexander Bryukhanov, Head of Development

    At the end of two weeks, the guys had a show. They presented their projects to each other and the company management.

    What tasks were given

    To include a trainee in the work team is pointless and ruthless. Even if a student is interested and at least knows something (this is already a good result!), You will not immerse him at once in the development, you need to learn some time. Two weeks is a very short time, so the thought of giving new students the tasks of full-time developers was refused in advance. But we wanted to show work in a real IT company. We needed tasks through which the guys could “touch” the development process and, at least from the outside, look at the interaction of the teams.

    From time to time ideas arise in the company that are potentially useful, but there is no one to realize, or they are not so important as to be taken up right now. Often this is ancillary services that can be done separately. Throughout the year, we chose from such tasks those that can wait until the summer and will be within the capabilities of the trainees.

    Translator . We have long wanted to try the POEditor service, so we asked the guys to integrate with it. This task was first dealt with by “green sophomores”, and then third-year students. Sophomores made some kind of prototype, third-year students came up with something more complete. As a result, we left one of the third year students to work, and he, already perfectly understanding the task, quickly rewrote everything “in an amicable way”.

    Employee metrics. Another girl alone was engaged in employee metrics - KPI, in fact. Combined data from the door, Youtrack, Gitlab: when a person arrives, how long does he put in the YouTrack, which commits to the code. In the process of solving it was possible to look at several options and adjust the TK.

    Scripts for VMmanager testers. Developers and testers of VMmanager needed a script to perform routine operations: walk through SSH to servers, fall from these servers to virtuals, check versions of libvirt, Qemu, OS, etc. year and also worked on the backend. Then he tried to make requests using the network libraries, so this time he did it quickly. The quality of the code was not “super-duper”, but after the review, the script was taken to work.

    VMmanager front-fender utility . Back in VMmanager, the task of collecting the frontend work metrics was in the deferred. It was necessary to collect response time, load time for useful content on the page and a whole lot more that is important for the analysis of the service. The task was complex and less clear than the backend; it was necessary to shovel a bunch of "literature" and get acquainted with Angular, which is not taught in high school. Solve this problem volunteered second "Repeater". And coped! His code was updated and after a few sprints, the solution will be added to the product, that is, they will also be used. The guy himself was so pleased with the VMmanager front-vendors that they invited him to work after the institute.

    Student reviews

    When the practice ended, we asked the students to give detailed feedback on it. The guys approached the task responsibly and dashed off almost a page of text. For fun, here are some clips from the reviews of the guys. Author's style saved.

    Svetlana B . I did not change my mind about working at IT, on the contrary, I liked it very much and the body requires an "additive". I would very much like to work here, I have somehow got used to this atmosphere and work in a team, I don’t want to leave.

    Alexey E. This is the best atmosphere I have been in. And it was created by a cluster of incredibly cool people in one place (...). Here everything is “you” with each other, there is no obligatory uniform, comfortable offices, a free lunch schedule, and I don’t keep silence about the pizza day. The result is a very cool atmosphere in which you feel incredibly comfortable. In such an atmosphere I want to work, and not to count the hours before leaving home.

    Dmitry V. (...) All week we tried to do the integration, but nothing came out until Friday morning, a few hours before the show, Shurik did not come to us and podshamanit us (...). In general, I did not regret choosing a place to practice. I looked at how the company works from the inside, how interaction is built in the department and between departments. I learned a lot and met wonderful people.

    Our findings

    For ourselves, we also made several conclusions. Perhaps they will be useful and other companies that are only planning to work with students.

    1. Choose interested students . If a person is interested, he probably already read something on the topic and even tried to do it. It is easier for him to absorb new knowledge and solve problems. Yes, and developers with such a pleasant chat. “It is interesting to explain and teach when a person understands a little what this is about, when he asks clarifying questions and is looking for answers himself. If he came to a public lecture and listens with square eyes, it’s boring, ”says Alexander Bryukhanov. Therefore, next year we will either introduce testing, or we will hold preliminary meetings with students and select children with “burning eyes” for them.
    2. Spend more time. Mentors spent about an hour a day on children. Two or three students could be assigned to a mentor, so one trainee could get quite a bit of his attention. It is necessary to help more, to explain more. Perhaps in the future we will assign a separate Middle-developer to each student. This is not a bad practice for the midles themselves. The ability to transfer knowledge to others is one of our requirements for career growth within a company.
    3. Set tasks, given knowledge . Sometimes, when setting tasks, we simply forgot to tell some things, because “well, they still know about it.” Just looking at the attempts of the guys understood that they can greatly facilitate life, if you show a program that can half of what they are trying to do. Next year we will try to take this into account.
    4. Tighter control . The guys do the work of student habits: “we are searching, we are searching, and on the last day we will take, and how we will do” - like on the night before the exam. Mentors broke the project into small tasks, but gradually they did not work out very well with the interns. We decided that we need to more strictly control the achievement of intermediate goals.
    5. And the last conclusion: we are interested . We will use a lot of things made by the guys. One intern already works for us, one more will come in half a year, a few will be taken into account. All the guys will return to the university and talk about "the best atmosphere", "Shurik's shamanism" and that I want "supplements". Perhaps due to this in the future, some of their friends will come to us for an interview, and then join the team.
    There is an opinion that students are cheap labor. You use 100%, and you pay a little. Maybe for some companies this is true, but not for us. If we accept a student, then to the position of Junior programmer. He gets a mentor who teaches and brings up to date, sets initial tasks and gives feedback. Graduates and specialists with little experience come to the same conditions. We invest strength and resources to help them all get started and grow as quickly as possible.

    Of course, there is a risk that you will grow up a student, and he will leave. Do nothing, we always compete with other companies in the west. But not everyone will leave, someone thanks to a meeting with the ISPsystem will remain in Irkutsk. Will live at Baikal, make software that is used around the world, and get a decent salary.

    Olga Chechelnitskaya, Eychar

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