Hanging out at the official after-party for the Webbie Breakout event last Friday, making (rather liberal) use of the open bar, I found myself reflecting on the company I’ve spent 2 years of my life working at.
It’s been speculated that we spend around 60-70% of our waking lives at work, so the places we work are inevitably a huge part of our lives. I haven’t thought about it as deeply as I perhaps ought to have. What is the place I spend 35+ hours a week of my time at all about – and what is its defining factor?
As I write, two of our placement students are sat across the room, spending the back end of their lunch break playing chess. Adam is frustrating Tom with a defensive strategy. Certainly, our industrial placement programme is a good place to start. More than being a key part of our recruitment efforts, the programme is a fitting testament to who we are as a company.
Every July we take on a large group of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed industrial placement students for 12 months. Usually the turnaround is instant: one ‘class’ of IPs goes out on the Friday, the new group shows up on the Monday to begin their training. I don’t have any metrics on this, but I’d be willing to bet that out of other companies in this industry of our size, we have one of the largest IP programmes in the region. In fact, we’re probably up there nationally.
This is, of course, down to our attitude toward the IP scheme. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the company mission statement: above all else, to have a positive impact. The scheme isn’t merely a vessel for recruitment, or a CSR initiative where we’re just going through the motions. We’re invested in each and every one of our students from day one. All IP students that pull on the black shirt are fully integrated into the team, with our Chief Exec. taking a close personal interest in their progress. Whether or not they end up working for us full-time, it’s very likely that they will end up working in the IT industry.
In fact, I’m fairly sure that every single IP programme ‘alumni’ – if you’ll permit the use of the term – have gone on to be employed as an IT professional. The company has been the first step in many fantastic careers. That’s something to be proud of, and it will no doubt continue.
Our commitment to people development doesn’t stop with the IP programme. We take on an average of 10 work experience students a year. In liaison with other departments, I spend a lot of my own time making sure all work experience students that come in make the most out of it, whether it’s for a week or a month. I interview each student personally beforehand, so we can tailor each experience to the individual.
A great example would be a young man called Josh Kerr. Josh impressed hugely when working as a member of the Marketing team, eventually working on some live projects. He impressed so much that we ended up offering him a paid internship, and I’m looking forward to welcoming him back to the team in July.
Earlier this month, we also received a letter of thanks from Joe Joscelyne, who had recently completed a week of dev experience under the supervision of Jon Hall. Joe said:
I think this sums up ‘what it’s all about’ pretty perfectly. Witnessing the impact the company has on others becomes relatively easy, looking at our staff today and considering all the progress they have made since being a new starter. Perhaps a harder task is to apply the same lens to yourself.
I’ve probably changed massively, though like witnessing hair growth it’s not the easiest thing to pick up on. The value of hard work was something I’ve had to learn, something I’ll definitely always carry with me.
Oddly, in spite of all I have learnt in these 2 years, certainly an immense amount, I don’t feel any smarter. If anything, I’m more aware of the things I don’t know – which I think is more of a strength than it sounds. It’s easy to think you know everything, but acknowledging how far you have to go is the only way you’re ever going to grow.
It can be tempting to focus on individuals, but the fact is that this is a company made up of people all pulling in the same direction. People who share the same ethos, have that commitment to their own personal growth, and strive to have a positive impact on their surroundings. These are good people; they are and will continue to be the defining factor in every success we have.