Creating a Meangingful Internship Program, by Alex Tatiyants – Director of Software Development @ Zynx Health

Due to the crunch on technology talent (particularly with developers and engineers), companies have had to get creative to find great candidates. Even more so, it has become equally challenging to breed company loyalty in the new world of software engineers jumping from job-to-job every year or two. Zynx Health, an evidence based health care related SAAS company in Westwood, looked to solve this problem by developing a rigorous internship program. Below are insights from Alex Tatiyants, Director of Software Development, about how Zynx developed a successful internship program amidst a crowded market.

Fun Fact:  Server side PHP is used as a programming language for 78% of websites – 95% of which use PHP5.

I work for Zynx Health, a small company based in Westwood. Like many other small companies, we’ve struggled to attract top technology students for internships. For some time, we have wanted to improve our program and actually compete for the best and brightest against the Googles and the Facebooks of the world. To achieve this goal, we had to first understand what the best intern candidates look for. While average students aren’t especially particular about what they want from an internship, the top students are. By and large, they want two things: real-world experience and meaningful work.

Armed with this insight, we designed our Summer Internship program, dividing it into three defined phases: Prep, Boot Camp, and the Intern Project. During Prep, interns split their time between working alongside engineers (contributing in any way they can) and preparing for Boot Camp – a week-long training course on all of our technologies and practices. All interns are assigned a topic and a mentor who provides general guidance and advice. Interns are responsible for preparing all training materials (some lecture, mostly labs), which they use to teach each other. Right after Boot Camp, the Intern Project phase begins. Due to our urge to give interns meaningful work, their goal is to implement a new feature which we can actually release. The interns are fully responsible for every facet of the project, from story writing to deployments. They set up a CI pipeline, TDD (test driven develop) their code, program in pairs, write functional tests, etc.

As it happens, our internship program succeeded beyond all expectations. We were able to find some great people (we’ve hired two fulltime and will likely hire more). Intern Projects have all resulted in functional products with well-written and well-tested code. Most importantly, our interns had a great time getting tons of real-world experience while doing meaningful work.

*Source: W3Techs

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