Posts Tagged ‘graduate’

Riding the Graduate Program Wave

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Having gone through the hard yards of a graduate program I have learnt a fair amount of the elements I believe constitute a strong graduate program. Obviously things can look very different from being a graduate to the graduate manager (or creator of the graduate program) but my experiences and experiences of those around me have led me to believe the following are really important – so important they are more of a must than a want.

– Rotation scheme – graduates should have the opportunity to work within a number of teams across a number of business functions. This has a number of advantages – the graduate has visibility over a number of business functions as opposed to a blinker view and the opportunity to grow experience/skills is greatly increased. Both of which provide a positive return for the company AND graduate.0

– Individual performance review – appraise people on personal performance – not on market levels. I have always been irked that a number of graduate programs reward graduates based on market increases (fluctuations) and not on personal performance or improvement. Should a graduate with 2 years industry experience who functions effectively as a full time engineer not be paid more than a green graduate straight out of a CompSci degree who takes time to adjust.

– Do not mis-represent the program or your company. Correctly managing the face of your graduate program and company will lead to longer term graduate placements. In short – if you advertise your program as a very different beast to what it is you will have a number of unhappy graduates who feel a sense of betrayal and chances are will leave.

– Provide a strong framework for graduates to communicate. Graduate communication provides an outlet for graduates to share information on experiences and work. In many cases this will tie in with the rotation scheme as graduates will share thoughts on teams and future career moves. Providing a strong framework for graduates allows them to feel part of the company culture and provides a level of graduate support. Isolating graduates reduces the effectiveness of a graduate program.

– Build a program around keeping graduates and developing them for the future. Graduate programs provide a positive opportunity to both graduates and the company. Graduates can form a strong foundation for the future of a company – if treated correctly and fostered through the early stages of their career these employees will become crucial to the future of the company. The graduate can build their talents/skills along with experience within a company that appreciates the importance of graduates – offering vendor training, support and career development.

– Do not view graduates as a cheap and temporary pack horse. In many IT firms graduates are simply used as “churn and burn” materials – as in they are brought in cheap, worked to the bone and burnt out then discarded as a new intake are accepted. This has 2 negative effects on the company – it develops a bad name within the graduate community and negatively effects future intakes lowering the level of quality of graduates applying.

Simply put – if you are looking at a number of a graduate positions trying to determine which is best for you – I would be looking at the above points and analysing which program offers the most important to you.

Big Fish to Small Fry – Part 2

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

It took about 3 days for my decisions to be sealed – my original IT firm came back to me with an amazing offer and my current employers made no effort to keep me – sadly the decision had been made that as a graduate – the team could live without me.

My last month was great fun – I worked hard till the last day closing a lot of outstanding tasks but otherwise stress was declining. I completed a week of oncall in my last month as a sign of good faith (which also provided some more cash). During my exit interview I highlighted a lot of points about the shortfalls of the graduate program (I’ll cover these in a later post) in the hope future graduates wouldn’t go through similar hurdles I had.

I’ve now been with the smaller IT firm nearly one month – due to my previous experience with them it was much easier coming back than headed to a new company – a number of the systems had remained the same as had the staff members. I knew what I was in for.

The first month has been chaotic at times – I’ve stepped up a few times to cover oncall responsibilities without much knowledge of the specifics – but overall the transition has been smooth. I’ve been surprised at how mamy skills I learnt first time round have remained and just needed a slight kick to get back in gear. During the first 2 weeks I was inspired to start a blog to document a few things – technical tid bits I found interesting, general life within the industry and a sort of week by week play of how I developed. Its taken me these 3 -4 weeks to find the free time and motivation to finally kick it off – but this is the end result.

I had planned this post to mainly highlight the differences between large corporate life compared to a grass roots IT firm – but the content seems to have grown and gone elsewhere – I’ll have to touch on this comparison later as I feel its really important to see the differences.