Rookie Boot Camp Project Simulation – Internship Concept Explained

Aleksandar Popadić

The scarcity of software engineering experts in the Western Balkans market is something that has been a constant for the last decade. Depending on the region, most IT companies are always looking for well-skilled and motivated people to enrich their expertise and offering towards customers.

Truth be told, customer demands in digital product development are always high if you observe it from the point of view of a company that provides software services, and more or less always the same regarding the quality standards of digital product delivery. It is nothing new, and we are aware that it only depends on which perspective you are referring to.

Customer-friendly equals employee satisfaction
Having that in mind, we have been developing a method which would be the most beneficial both for our customers and our future employees. The idea was to create an internship experience as real as it is on a customer project at ProductDock.

So what does that mean? Well, it’s not a secret that software development nowadays has drastically changed compared to the industry requirements ten or fifteen years ago. Software engineers are no longer only good programmers, but also good listeners and good communicators.

What we want to say here is that a software engineer in a team is expected to demonstrate a proactive approach towards the project and customer demands, a great problem-solving mindset while receiving or dealing with the tasks, active engagement in the ideation phase, and through the whole digital product development process. Not to mention comfortable use of communication and project management tools.

Yes, Zoom, Slack, Miro, Jira, Google Meet, and many more have experienced a real expansion since the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that we have used these tools for years now. It is part of the onboarding process for every new employee, and it has appeared to be very beneficial.

Customer expectation is growing as we speak
Either we refer it to end-users (customers of our customers), or our clients directly, that is the truth. All of them naturally expect that the engineers developing their app possess considerable experience in software development. However, we all know from our experience that this is not always the case.

Of course, it has to do with the company staffing policy as well – as there is no such thing as a senior-only employment policy – nor there it should be.

Now, imagine you have to introduce a group of new colleagues to your team, and not all of them are experienced in the industry. Now we talk seriously, because that’s simply how it is in real life.

We all rely on experts and seniors, but the best way to demonstrate your expertise and seniority within the company is through leadership. While demonstrating it, you help your colleagues and rookies to learn, grow and shape their career development as best as you can. Customer expectations might be growing as we speak, but we do not sit and wait for the escalation.

Rookie Boot Camp as the answer
As an adequate response to the already mentioned challenge(s) we decided to create a custom internship experience for the prospective candidates eager to join ProductDock. It is based on a real project simulation, while they work on various digital products and web applications as a functional team. Usually, we create a team of 4 people working together on a web app project.

The duration of the internship is 3 months, and during that period the interns learn and adopt patterns of project planning, development, communication, feedback, project reporting, retrospectives, and product delivery and presentation to the broader audience.

Through this challenging journey, they are led by several experienced mentors from ProductDock, who plot the course of the internship and observe project iterations that result in adequate guidelines for the Rookie Boot Camp team.

Interns are doing most of the things by themselves, and our mentors are observing and supervising the process, with relevant feedback to the project team, from planning to delivery.
After 3 months of intensive teamwork, Rookies should deliver a functional application that will be revised and put into use internally.

The Outcome
An intensive internship process ideally should result in full-time employment at ProductDock. It’s designed as a win-win situation both for the company and the interns. Rookies get unique teamwork experience in developing real software applications with the latest technologies in the industry, using the most relevant product development methodologies which will be crucial for their further professional growth. The company, on the other hand, gains new highly motivated young engineers eager to learn and grow together with our customers and us.

That is how we tackle software engineering role scarcity at ProductDock. In the next article on Rookie Boot Camp, we will further explain eligibility to apply and requirements for potential prospects.

Stay tuned!