This year saw the renewal of Pronovix’s ITrainee program, open to university students, recent graduates or those seeking a change or new career. Members of the Pronovix Mentoring lab selected four participants, who were then given the chance to learn about web development and observe the Pronovix workflow environment. Our mentors set up the timeline, defined the goals and established the correlating tasks the participants would be undertaking. We used our experience from the previous programs to establish a workflow with tasks that got the most out of the trainees. There were still some challenges that the mentors did not expect, we discuss them below.
Our four trainees in the Pronovix ITrainee Program 2016 were Zsombor Kapás, Gábor Kurucz, Ede Mónus and Zsolt Nagy. We ended the program by interviewing our trainees regarding their reasons for joining, their experiences and their overall impression. Read on to learn what they had to say.
Steve: Why did you choose our program? What were your expectations?
Zsolt: I found the internship with a Google search which led me to the Pronovix site. I think it is a valuable program, so it should totally be on drupal.hu and drupal.org.
As I experienced, every company who wants to hire even a junior programmer expects one or two years of working experience from the candidates. That’s hard to get without a traineeship program.
I had experience in other IT areas, but it’s hard to convert. During the traineeship, I could explore my skills and boundaries.
Zsombor: I didn’t have any IT background yet, but I was interested in web development. I’m interested in everything in relation to visuality, so I wanted to learn more about front-end development.
I looked for a couple of courses, but they didn’t fit my expectations. Usually, they don’t have anything to do with real life issues and projects: they focus on theory and provide isolated information pieces on the topic. You can’t build a real knowledge network with courses I think. Contrarily the Pronovix ITrainee program focuses on practical exercises.
Steve: What is the difference between the knowledge you get during your studies and during this training?
Gábor: There is a huge difference. One of the most crucial things that isn’t taught at university is version control. I think nowadays, there is no developer who works without version control. It’s extremely important. We didn’t really learn about product planning either. University provides a good basic knowledge about the profession, but there is little chance to learn hardcore practical knowledge.
Ede: The first significant difference was that we had to do everything during the project independently. I mean: the mentors helped us when we needed it, but they didn’t hold our hands. We had to plan and implement all parts of the projects based on the suggestions of the mentors and the given materials. It was a valuable experience and a real challenge.
University provides lexical knowledge, while this training provided insights about the workflow of a real project at a real company.
Steve: What was the most fruitful part of the training?
Zsolt: Good question. It depends on the point of view. Every part of the training gave different knowledge. The written exercises, the landing page building and the product development project needed different skillsets from us. I think the product development project was the most complex task. On the other hand, the written exercises are about Drupal 8, so I can use this knowledge in the future for sure.
I can easily use my experience from the landing page building task, too. Maybe this is the knowledge that I can use the most widely.
But as I said, the product development was the most complex project. We had to work on it as a real team and it was an important experience.
Zsombor: All of the tasks contributed to seeing the whole picture regarding web development. I tried to create a knowledge network about it for myself. I wanted to get a coherent picture with the corresponding elements in it. I didn’t want to over-specialize myself during the training. Thanks to the ITrainee program, I think I see the context of the whole workflow.
Every task added something to this picture. We had to learn to work together, dig ourselves into an unknown issue, learn to communicate with each other and with the mentors as well. And the joy of understanding things is worth the effort.
Gábor: We learned a lot about the agile software development method during the product development project. We had standups twice a week, regular feedback sessions and we had to iterate the product accordingly. It was a completely new workflow to us and it worked perfectly. The key is that the whole training was extremely practice-oriented.
Ede: I learned the most from the product development project. We had to use Git, Redmine, etc. and tried to implement a real product as a team.
Steve: Speaking about teamwork. How did the internal communication work?
Gábor: When we had straightforward tasks, it was good. For example during the landing page building. And then came the product development. We don’t have the same IT background and during this project the differences became visible. We had to learn to handle the situation and it wasn’t easy at first. I tried to take a lead because I felt I had to. But I didn’t know more about the project or the solutions than the others. I had some kind of vision about the product, but couldn’t see the whole picture. So we had hard times in terms of communication with each other. The things changed when Kristof joined to the project. The product plan and the workflow became clearer after his explanation as the product was his idea.
Zsombor: It had its own difficulties. We didn’t know exactly our specific roles in the team, so we experimented with it and handed over roles and certain tasks to each other. It multiplied the effectiveness when we could gather in the office and have an extended discussion about the tasks.
Steve: If you could add one more thing to the program, what would it be?
Ede: I would add a bit more communication time between the mentors and the trainees. Sort of personal mentoring, when the trainees could ask their questions not just about the actual tasks, but about the trainee program, the workflow, and the team roles.
Zsolt: In my opinion, it would be important to provide some theoretical knowledge via sessions held by mentors about a specific topic. Of course, the ITrainee program’s strength lies in its practical nature, but maybe it’s worth thinking about adding some presentations that summarize the different topics.
We continuously try to improve our ITrainee program based on the trainees’ feedback to give them the practical knowledge that helps them to succeed in their profession.