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IT business in higher education
Development of IT in general and individual IT companies in particular is largely dependent on talented young professionals. Large IT business seeks to establish a relationship with them since university. This includes internships, corporate scholarships and many other activities.
Some companies create a whole system of involvement in higher education. A good example is the system established in ICL Services. This is a well-oiled mechanism of improving technical competence of students from specialized universities.
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The company’s mission when working with students is focused on education, not recruiting.
Andrey Krekhov — Deputy Director on Technical Programs на Head of Technical Programmes — defines the company’s mission in this field as such:
- promote the growth of professional competence of students and assist them in academic and leadership fulfillment;
- saturate and develop the labor market in the IT field;
- prepare young professionals for the needs of the company.
Recruitment for own purposes is one of the three main objectives of the company. We believe that large business is responsible for the overall development of regional IT education and labor market. Therefore, none of the ICL Services education programs presuppose further employment obligations.
1. Fundamental education in universities
ICL Services works closely with leading universities specializing in IT education — KFU and KNRTU-KAI. Fujitsu Labs — the joint project of ICL Services with its long-time partner, Fujitsu corporation — operate in ITIS educational center in KFU since 2011. The Enrollment 2015 took place not long ago.
Students undergo specialized training in labs over 2-3 semesters: they study technologies used in ICL Services and gain hands-on experience on a «simple-to-complex» basis. Diploma papers are usually based on real projects in ICL Services. IT professionals from ICL Services hold classes (a total of 24 courses) and complement theoretical knowledge with real-life experience on the basis of business objectives of the company.
Daniil Polyakh — one of the Labs students in 2015 — describes his education: «They train us and give us tasks based on real problems that we may encounter at work... We’ve been practicing from the first days of classes, even though usually our heads are flooded with theory first. For me this is a huge advantage!»
Six major laboratories are:
- iOS Lab (mobile application development);
- Retail Lab (training in one of the most promising areas of IT — automation of trade and retail equipment);
- Java Lab (Java development);
- Testing Lab (training in testing);
- Workplace Lab (training in automation solutions for complex, distributed and large IT infrastructures);
- Cloud Computing and Unix Lab (training in modern cloud-based and Unix technologies; the Cloud Competence Center is created on its basis).
KFU graduates who have passed specialized labs training have extended system knowledge of the university program and invaluable practical experience.
In addition, ICL Services collaborates with KFU on master’s programs and special projects (for example, associated with artificial intelligence) and carries out joint educational programs with KNRTU-KAI. We are also improving our cooperation with the Innopolis university.
2. Olympiads for students
ICL Services annually organizes university and school olympiads in informatics, like the ICL Tournament (included in the list of competitions in informatics of the Faculty of Computer Science of the Higher School of Economics.)
The purpose of such tournaments is to identify talented youth and contribute to its development in the IT field (for example, by inviting to Labs.) Many winners become leading experts in ICL Services or other IT companies in the region.
3. Corporate scholarships
Another form of support for talented youth are nominal corporate scholarships.
As a rule, they are given to students from technical faculties of specialized universities — KFU, KNRTU-KAI, Kazan State Power Engineering University, etc. Nominal scholarships also do not oblige students to work in ICL Services.
These scholarships are to create favorable conditions for attracting experts in the IT field in general.
ICL Services provides opportunities to trainees of various fields of knowledge: programmers, lawyers, quality assurance experts, etc. Young people experience the full cycle of work in IT companies first-hand — from serious hiring interviews to project management. Internships are long — 3 months — and allow trainees to gain real competence.
Some internships suggest the possibility of employment, while others — not. However, internship programs always draw the interest of student audience and the competition amounts up to 20-30 applicants per place! In general, more than 50% of interns who had joined the company in the first half of 2015 remained in ICL Services.
We also cooperate with universities and vendors. This contributes to the creation of a unified educational space, which is to be welcomed!
5. Specialization. Short-term courses
Together with our partner universities — KNRTU-KAI and KFU — we hold intensive courses on IT specialization. As a rule, they are triggered by the need of ICL Services to (re)train IT students for specific company projects. However, course scopes are large enough and the program concentrates on standards and technologies rather than on the specifics of a particular project. Graduates, even if they do not join ICL Services, receive corporate certificates. Therefore, some students use these courses as an opportunity to improve professional skills.
Sometimes these courses are conducted in our own training center. In this case all IT experts, not just students, can take a course.
* * *This approach to business involvement in education is useful for everyone:
- graduates and young professionals enhance their relevance and value in the labor market;
- the regional high tech business is developing. This increases the investment attractiveness of the region as a whole and favors the development of all its IT companies, from large to small ones;
- ICL Services employs strong young professionals who already have significant experience and skills immediately after graduating. In 2015, for example, about 60% of participants of our educational programs came to work in the company.