What came first: the experience or the job?
This work-life chicken and egg scenario is familiar to pretty much anyone who has ever had a job. But is interning the answer? As an organisation that aims to make real changes in the world of work, at Code Like a Girl we‘re hyper aware of the common pitfalls associated with interning.
Some industries are accused of exploiting interns as free labour disguised as experience, while some commentators have claimed that our increasing culture of interning puts young people from low socio-economic backgrounds behind because they simply cannot afford to work for free.
Code Like a Girl exists to get more women into coding and one of our core values is that no one should be left out, no matter what their background. So when we noticed a lot of our girl gang struggling to bridge the gap between study and work, we knew we needed an intern program. But we had to make this work for everyone involved.
So how did we make our program different?
There are many occasions in startup world that we realise how fortunate we are to have a co-founder with a background in HR. Designing our intern program was one of those times. Vanessa designed the Code Like a Girl program with strict guidelines for employers and interns:
“This intern program isn’t a cliche, sending out people to go on the coffee run or be the office gopher. Part of the mandate is that there is a true exchange of value between the individual and the company.
So the individual will get access to real experiences as if they were working as a developer or an engineer or a data scientist. This will look different from company to company and they can taylor this. But the organisation gets access to talent and someone that can then stay on with the company once they are trained up and providing it goes well.
One of the other things that makes this program different is that we don’t mind how the interns got their coding skills, just that they have a certain level of skill. Whether someone has done a short course as a career changer or is a recent graduate or returning to work they are welcome to apply. And you need the right to work in Australia because this is a paid internship. Our intern program is also open to men.
In our first call out, the response was huge. We had over 400 applicants and from those we have placed about 12 interns and so far have an 85% retention rate. So most are being offered permanent roles in the organisations.” Vanessa Doake, Code Like a Girl co-founder.
Vanessa and Ally
One of the Code Like a Girl intern program success stories is Hillary Dworkoski, who we placed with Conserve IT after she completed a Diploma of Software Development at Holmesglen TAFE. Hillary is from California but came to Melbourne for a semester while completing her bachelor degree in Political Science. She came back in 2016 to attend Melbourne Law School, but after a year she realised it wasn’t for her.
After successfully completing her internship at Conserve IT, Hilary was offered a full time role with the organisation. This is a dream come true for her so we asked her what she would say to others thinking of switching to coding as a career.
“Day to day it’s problem solving, you get stuck into something and you will be working on it for a couple of hours and you don’t even realise that time has past.
When I switched to my diploma of software development I only had a little bit of experience from high school, we had a class in c++. I’ve always been fairly maths based though and a logical thinker, which is what attracted me to law. I just decided to try this and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted to do.
And the company I now work for makes commercial air-conditioning systems more efficient, so I also know I’m doing some good in the world.”
Conserve IT came on board with our program because despite their best efforts to attract more female applicants when they were recruiting, they just weren’t getting them. They were sure this wasn’t because the candidates weren’t out there, so they thought they better try something new. This worked and they have been so happy that they are now looking to take on another intern via our program.
Girls we want you!
We want to grow our intern program. The only way is with more interns, so send in your applications! We have organisations waiting to place quality applicants right now.
But of course we always want to bring more organisations on board. So if your business is interested, we want to hear from you!
For more info and to apply or register interest, go here: https://codelikeagirl.org/internship
Want to be part of building a better world and driving gender diversity in tech in Australia?