Training graduates for the cloud

How to Train your Grads

How to Train your Graduates

TechConnect is an AWS advanced partner and does a large amount of work in the cloud specifically around making sense of people’s complex data problems. Due to this, the technologies we work with are all relatively new and to find new team members with the necessary skill set is like finding a needle in a haystack.  We have searched far and wide to fill positions with people who have skills in Elastic Mapreduce, Redshift, Kinesis etc. with not much luck.

As we could not find them, we decided to make our own. The recipe was quite simple – train a graduate:

  • Write a study program for getting graduates skilled fast. Amazon Web Services offers a lot of free courses for graduates and there are several excellent value online courses.
  • Create an attractive year long roadmap for graduates to go from entry level salary to a very competitive salary if they hit certain milestones.
  • Ensure your company has a strong culture of sharing knowledge.
  • Attend Ribit University days where students can be introduced to the business.
  • Advertise on Ribit for free.
  • Interview graduates and assess whether their personality is an ideal fit as well as having a competent language ability.
  • Create a test to challenge graduates that want to work for TechConnect.
  • Get graduates to complete the tests.
  • Take on the best performing graduates.
  • Accelerate them through the program.
  • Make sure you have excellent support structures for the graduates. You need to ensure your ratio of graduates to seniors is appropriate for the work you do.

We have found this has worked excellently for us with definite advantages:

  • It’s really great to give back to the community. The whole team enjoys watching the graduates develop and revel in their success. Our team is very passionate in helping people grow their skillsets.
  • The graduate’s brains are like sponges and they take every opportunity to soak up knowledge
  • They are surprisingly very commercially astute.
  • They are loyal as they know you provided them with this excellent opportunity.
  • TechConnect acquires cost effective people that are trained in the exact technologies the company uses.
  • Our graduates have excellent customer service and do not need to be hidden away.
  • No one has 15 years’ experience in Redshift or Kinesis.
  • The graduates we have are generally excellent mathematicians which is gold in the data space.

Some tips with training your graduates:

  • When something new comes out in cloud that you know you will need (eg. AWS Athena) get the graduates to research the new product and then present a report during a brown bag session. As soon as the product is required, the seniors can call on that graduates to help and suddenly, they are subject matter experts.
  • The graduates generally do some really funky projects at Uni that make commercial projects seem quite dull. Let the graduates know this before they come onboard! We have had no complaints from the graduates as we always manage expectations. They are moving from doing intriguing AI projects with limited time pressures to crunching boring financial numbers and presenting this in some visualisation product. We do have interesting projects, but they are not all drones and underwater camera kind of projects.
  • Ensure you know what your graduates have studied. If you get a data project in the health space and you have a Biomedical graduate, they will be of enormous value.
  • Employ seniors who have a passion for upskilling and mentoring others. This is paramount to the success of the program.
  • They can be a bit nervous at times so make sure you explain company strategy and plans. For example, we do quarterly one on ones and had an excellent graduate very nervous that we were letting them go.
  • Graduates don’t know older or more enterprise technologies like SAP or Oracle and to be honest they won’t be too interested in these.
  • Don’t be afraid of taking on PhDs. They are phenomenally clever, and it sounds really cool when introducing them to your customers. We have two PhDs and two in the final stages of getting their PhDs.

Everything said, we have had 9 graduates pass through our doors and have retained 8. Some have been with us for 4 years now and therefore are pretty senior when it comes to cloud technologies.

I started my career off as a Physics/Chem teacher, so I am very passionate in regard to watching people grow. If you have any questions, please give us a hoy.

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