January 23, 2017

Hiring Students is a Win-Win-Win Scenario

The value of Co-op and Internship programs go beyond just the benefits the students receive, their teams and the companies who hire them also win. Students gain work experience, earn some income, and learn; their team gets a boost to productivity, a shot of enthusiasm, and the benefit of a fresh perspective on the problems and challenges they face; while the company’s recruitment efforts and employer brand benefit from positive co-op terms.

Throughout my professional career I’ve had the opportunity to work with and hire multiple students, and experience this first-hand. Currently my team employs two students working as Android and iOS developers and testers.

From these experiences I’ve learned the win-win-win nature of hiring students. Let’s look at how the student, their team, and the hiring company win:

Wins for the Student

The obvious win for the students is that they get salaried work experience, but there’s so much more than that.

In interviews, students often ask what they’ll be working on. And while I know our product roadmap, and I have a rough idea of their current skillset, we need to put them into the team and get them working to see what they are capable of doing. I tell them that they will start with a few really basic bugs: a fix that may take five minutes, perhaps fixing a Lint warning or a typo in a UI string. But they will move onto much more interesting things fairly quickly.

In addition to the actual development work, they’ll also learn about our development process and how to interact with people on the team. Learning these aspects of the job will take longer than the initial development activity, but at that stage in their career, this is the type of learning experience that is the most important.

Gradually they will learn more about our app, and we will learn more about them. My goals for each work term is that the student will learn as much about development or testing as they’ll learn about our work environment and culture.

Wins for the Team

Of course, having an extra resource on the team is always beneficial for completing projects. There are arguments that having a student for four months is too short a time to get a good return on investment considering the money spent on their salary, the interview process, onboarding, and ramping them up to productivity. I disagree. In my experience students bring a different creative energy and perspective to your team.

Over the first month, the students I have been fortunate enough to work with have learned a lot and have quickly become fully productive members of the team. By the last month of their work term, they are working on tasks that are more complicated and have moved up into a more collaborative work style. In fact, some of our students who are here for a full year become such valued members of the team that it’s a real surprise when their term is up; we forgot that they were “just” students!

Another benefit of having a student on the team that might not be as immediately obvious, is it offers your current employees an opportunity to act as a mentor. When you have a developer looking to move into a more senior role, this is a chance for them to show how they can work with a small team and a student. Also, involving your team in the recruitment process provides valuable training for them.

Wins for the Company

As with the wins for the team, increased productivity is certainly also a win for the company. But these programs also allow companies to find proven talent who can fill open requisitions upon graduation. Yes, you might not hire any of your students. But it’s very likely you will hire someone else’s student, who’s had those same valuable learning opportunities.

Lastly, these programs increase the awareness within the student community of the company and opportunities available. When a student graduates, they remember their work terms and experiences and often share them with their peers. Make sure they consider your company as one who both challenged them to grow, respected them and rewarded their contributions.

To learn more about a potential career or Co-op placement at Ceridian, visit careers.ceridian.com!

Gerry Hawkins

A senior software development manager with a successful history of building high performance teams, Gerry leads the mobile development of Dayforce at Ceridian. He is an advocate of Agile Development practices for the improvement of software quality and increased customer satisfaction.

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