Ever since I started my first web development company in Romania back in 2005 (yape, 10 years ago!) I had an attraction to recruit people that were at the beginning of their career. Perhaps this has its roots somewhere in the first years of college when I wanted so badly to join a web development agency, even as a coffee bearer or something, it wouldn’t matter. The important aspect was that I wanted to learn from web developers: how they speak, how they code, how they do things in general.
Throughout the years I hired a few interns, in different positions, from social media and marketing to web development. Most of them evolved into having a full time job with us and that made me super proud. It’s an amazing feeling to see the progress of a person, from intern to senior developer. The thing is that I never called them interns. Never. Even when recruiting I would always post the job under the junior level. However, more often than not, the ones that ended up being hired, were not chosen based on their knowledge but rather on their attitude towards learning, their level of energy and passion.
I remember that one time I was interviewing for a Senior PHP position and the guy that I was expecting just for an informal discussion, calls to make sure it’s just a chat and not a coding test. We still had 15 minutes until the interview and this guy’s intervention already raised a flag. On a normal day, since I was looking for a Senior developer, this call alone should have ended the interview even before beginning. Something about this guy intrigued me and I choose to play his little game just to find out more about what he’s up to.
Sure enough, he gets to the interview (on time) and we start chatting. In fact I was doing most of the initial talk because he was busy fidgeting, sweating and blushing like a tomato. I knew I had this effect on interns and juniors, but not on seniors :). Something definitely snatched him out of his comfort zone, so I offer to get him a cup of tea, knowing that this would give him 2-3 minutes to calm down. Looking back, I was a real darling at that interview…
Anyhow, I get back with the tea and this time he has a piece of paper in his hands that looks like a CV. He starts telling me that although he applied for the job he was in fact a newbie in PHP which would qualify him for an intern position. He goes on:
“You have two versions of my CV: the one in my hand, with my current level of knowledge and skills, and the one in your hand that I’ve used to get this interview. I didn’t lie on that one, I just fast forwarded 1 year from now in your company, from intern to junior (in 3 months) and finally senior. Should you choose to accept me as an intern now, the CV that you hold in your hand is my promise to you within 12 months.“
I admired his courage and determination, so I hired him as an unpaid intern. The first month he came at the office like it was his full-time job, being really serious about his milestones, respecting everybody else’s time and always asking straight to the point questions. In the 2nd month he was already part of the development team that was just started developing a fresh web project for a big client. That’s when he got his first salary as a junior (1 month earlier than predicted) and 6 months later he a became PHP Certified Engineer.
This is one of my favorite intern stories. I love meeting this kind of people and I enjoy sharing my knowledge/experience with them. The best reward for me is to see them add value back to the team, whatever that might be in the following years because nobody is forever hired only in one place.
Working more with interns is definitely on my to do list for 2015.