Why should a tech company collaborate with a coding school?

How Proekspert partnered with kood/Jõhvi coding school and built relationships that benefits both parties.

kood/Jõhvi students work on projects at the Proekspert office in Tallinn. kood/Jõhvi students are of all ages come from all walks of life. 

In October 2021, Proekspert shook hands with kood/Jõhvi – a coding school that fully embraces independent and team-based learning – in order to contribute to shaping future engineers and giving them a head start. As one of kood/Jõhvi’s early corporate partners, we were the first to have the opportunity to invite multiple groups of students to visit our office. We allowed them to take part in our company’s daily life, introduced the Agile way of working, and guided them through real development tasks based on our own internal product.

Having an Agile mindset embedded deep in our core, we tend to often speak about WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? One of the principles of the Agile Manifesto reads Build projects around motivated individuals, and motivation is among the key elements in successful delivery. Even if we don’t wish to acknowledge it, one of the greatest drivers behind any activity is individual gain. What did we learn about that subject during our workshops with kood/Jõhvi students? Here are five observations.

1. It’s a source of interns and potential new hires

Growth and getting new hires is a pain all too familiar to tech companies. In a world where a software engineer has multiple potential offers on the table at all times, differentiating from competitors and attracting the people you need is getting more difficult each day. Recruitment statistics show that most successful candidates are usually the ones coming through referrals or through other contact with your existing specialists. Spending a day with students in a low-stress environment can create connections: we’re able to see what skills they have and compare that to what we need in our company. Finding an intern with great potential or even a full-fledged team member is not impossible.

2. It boosts employer branding

Let’s say the collaboration with students went well, but at the moment you don’t have the capacity to onboard juniors. But this doesn’t mean that the whole thing was a waste of time. Marketing activities before, during, and after the event is one way to burnish your company’s image. Sending students off while they are still in awe is great organic marketing, and having those who truly believe in the greatness of your company spread the word is invaluable. Just make sure you have put your best team in front of your guests, both technically and socially.

3. It motivates your staff, too

A change of scenery is known to help lower stress levels and provide a breath of fresh air — figuratively (and why not also literally?). New faces hungry for knowledge, tasks remarkably different from everyday assignments, and quite possibly a bubblier atmosphere in general, are some benefits we’ve seen at Proekspert’s workshop days. A boost in an engineer’s motivation is a boost in delivery!

4. You get teaching and mentoring experience

We all know the importance of capable mentors in our industry. There is no substitute for a teammate who points a newcomer in the right direction. It’s even more meaningful when you onboard a junior. No matter how many pet projects or how excellent school performance, there is always a learning curve when joining the industry for real. This is where company appointed mentors come in. However, taking on a first mentoring role may not be the easiest, despite all the guidelines out there. Learning these skills in a group can be a major help.

5. Learn team-building and cooperation

At Proekspert, we value individual initiatives that may not always relate to business in the most obvious ways (which does not mean they do not in the long run!). Usually, these initiatives are not and cannot be completed by a single person or an existing team. And in this itself there is value, the gathering together of people who do not work together on a daily basis from different teams, units, or tribes. This teaches communication and cooperation skills, builds relationships, and a sense of community. These relationships will influence the culture of the company and ease the forming of new teams.

The students’ view

It goes without saying that it’s not only the tech companies that benefit from such workshops. The students gain a lot, as well. They learn what everyday life looks like in actual companies. They get an understanding of what development work entails. They get acquainted with concepts new to them, such as sprints, scrum, embedded engineering, and agile methods. And the students especially value the experience of a hands-on coding task.

kood/Jõhvi’s blog has a detailed post from the students’ point of view. Click here to read the post.

It’s no secret that a company must quantitatively evaluate its decisions. Any activity that is not business critical needs to be justified, one way or another. As a tech company, Proekspert knows the value of its people and the discovery and shaping of future engineers. These two nicely summarize the gains from successful collaboration with motivated students. From team building inside the company, to getting the company promoted externally, the seemingly costly partnership will bring value to the company and its employees that working on ordinary projects simply cannot.

Does Proekspert sound like a place where you’d like to work? Check out our vacancies here.

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