How to Prepare for Real Work: The CROC Boostcamp Experience

How to Prepare for Real Work: The CROC Boostcamp Experience

Nadezhda Yanushkevich

Nadezhda Yanushkevich

Head of the direction “Development of IT education” KROK

One of the problems of novice specialists is that they cannot always quickly get involved in working on specific IT projects. As a result, the company needs to allocate time for their preparation and onboarding. And for trainees — to perform small tasks and wait until they are connected to real projects.

How do I find people who can quickly become full-fledged employees and are ready to get cool and relevant experience? And how to reduce the burden on future mentors? To answer these questions, we decided to launch a two-month training program for talented and strong guys who are ready to try on the role of a CROC employee.

Eight weeks of practice, master classes and onboarding together with mentors and top experts from different departments of CROC — we tell you what you need to prepare new employees to work in the company, and how the CROC Boostcamp went.

What is Boostcamp

This is an educational program during which the participants went through the entire cycle of work for the customer: from setting goals and objectives to the presentation of the finished product. And at the same time, they immersed themselves in the company’s processes, got acquainted with the corporate culture and future colleagues.

Initially, the guys applied for the role they want to get in the project: developer, analyst or manager. And then passed the selection. The main part of the program consisted of development sprints. There were also opening and closing weeks.

During the first week, we explained to the participants what would happen in the next two months, helped them set up services for productive work, united them into teams and introduced them to mentors. And they talked about how CROC approaches product development. At the same time, the guys chose the product they would be working on.

During the last week, students have been “finishing” projects, held final retro sessions with mentors and demos for customers. They also learned how to make resumes and pass interviews at master classes and celebrated the end of Boostcamp at graduation.

Each team had a mentor — a CROC employee — who helped plan sprints, conduct retro and analyze complex cases, tracked progress, assessed the quality of work, adjusted processes and gave feedback.

 

As a mentor, I had to monitor the microclimate in the group, create conditions for the guys to solve tasks independently and successfully. And also developed themselves and as a team.

Edward Khachatryan, mentor-system analyst

The program was also attended by track experts — CROC employees who conducted master classes and answered students’ questions in specific areas: analytics, development and product management.

How we prepared newcomers for full-fledged work

Practice

The program included three sprints of two weeks, during which participants had to prepare one of the products:

  • data visualization system for polling stations;
  • game mechanics and interfaces for an internal gamification program;
  • the conveyor control and monitoring system at the factory.

At the beginning of each sprint, to make it easier to understand the tasks, participants were sent a list of artifacts: documents and product increments that students should show by the end of the period. For example, the general concept of the project, a list of additional questions to the customer or a demonstration of the web application.

At the end of the sprints, the teams had to have versions of the product on hand:

  • The first sprint: The MVP of the application with a working frontend and backend, or the Alpha version of the frontend with a partially implemented backend.
  • The second sprint: a prototype that can be interacted with through the user interface.
  • The third sprint: a ready-made solution that can be run in production.

To develop products on Boostcamp, we chose an iterative approach — the same one that we use in real work. This helped the participants to better prepare for what awaits them at their future internship in the company. In addition, this way none of the team members “dropped out” of the process and did not wait for a whole sprint queue to start their tasks.

Almost all the work was done by the participants themselves. This approach brought students as close as possible to real work at CROC. And I helped them learn how to interact with the team, process and analyze information, and work for results.

Training

In parallel with the work, the participants attended workshops where they pumped hard and soft skills, learned how to communicate correctly with customers and colleagues from different teams.

There were also sessions with track experts — analysts, developers and CROC managers — where students could ask questions in their field. And meetings on the exchange of team experience.

 

It seems to me that during these 2 months, absolutely everything has been pumped: from my SQL knowledge to time management, despite the online format, because absolutely all knowledge was immediately put into practice.

Antonina Krain, analyst of one of the teams

Sometimes I had to study outside of workshops:

 

We took a chance and chose gamification. The stack was pretty hard-coded for her. And it became a big problem — none of our developers knew him. That’s why we learned new technologies right while working on the project.

Vlad, the developer of one of the teams

Immersion in CROC’s corporate culture

At master classes and workshops, we also told the participants about ourselves. The experts talked to the guys, explained what the corporate culture at CROC is: what values and rules we have for communicating with each other, how we approach work, taking care of ourselves and each other.

Usually the meetings were held online, but twice the students came to the CROC office, where they could see how we work and personally meet future colleagues.

In addition, the guys discussed their views on corporate culture and figured out what is important to them in the company. And they learned to reflect and observe themselves and their condition: participants regularly filled out “diaries” with which they tracked their own progress, recorded successes and growth points.

As a result, before the start of the internship, the participants knew how to build in the company, how to communicate, who to turn to for help. Interaction with employees helped to establish horizontal connections even before going to work.

 

After passing the CROC Boostcamp, of course, it is much easier to adapt to work, because we were told a lot about the corporate culture, we talked a lot with employees who were also interns once.

We immediately knew what duties would be waiting for us as interns, what to pay attention to, how best to prepare for the interview. We even had a workshop on how to make a resume better, it was very useful for everyone 🙂

Antonina Krain, analyst of one of the teams

What did we learn after CROC Boostcamp?

In two months, we have trained interns who are ready to immediately join the work on our projects, are already familiar with all stages of product creation, communicate well with colleagues and are immersed in our corporate culture.

Out of 71 students, after defending their projects, 70 received an invitation to an interview. As a result, more than 40 participants passed it, and almost 20 of them became our employees: two were junior specialists, and the rest were interns.

That is, the “demo version” of real work, together with immersion in the peculiarities of corporate culture, helped newcomers to adapt faster. Even before the internship, they were familiar with the atmosphere in the company and many processes, and had already managed to establish contacts with future colleagues.

In addition, it turned out to be a good opportunity to pump hard and soft skills: from building mathematical models and compiling reports to the ability to resolve conflicts within the team and communicate with customers.

What can we tell the newbies?

In the end, I want to tell you a couple of life hacks for Jun. How to find your place in the company and quickly adapt to work:

  • Conduct a research and select for yourself useful programs that companies conduct. See how you can prove yourself in these programs, what can you learn, what practical experience can you get from them?
  • Take internships and attend open corporate events held by companies. This is a good way to “try out” their corporate culture, check how close it is to you, and establish connections.
  • Don’t forget about networking. According to LinkedIn statistics, most vacancies are closed through acquaintances. In addition, it is easier to adapt to a new job if you already know the team. At events held by various IT communities, you can get acquainted with specialists from different companies and learn about the specifics of the work “first-hand”.
  • Practice. The more practical experience you have, the easier it will be to get involved in working on real projects.

Software Outsourcing | Unreal Engine Development

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