Finding Talent Quickly without Compromises
Training on the Job: A Community Effort in its Truest Form
Training on the job, referred to as “ToJ” moving forward, is a practical learning program with multiple benefits for our company, for candidates with less experience, and also for supervisors who conduct the program.
For Cognizant Softvision, as an employer, the ToJ program brings the benefit of forming future employees according to company’s standards and practices. We do this by getting our senior team members in mentorship roles and having them serve as guides to the new trainees. This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to observe how our Communities come together and put in the shared effort needed to help guide new team members along their desired career paths. Through daily one-on-one interactions between trainer and trainee, rock-solid projects, company and process documentation, practical examples and exercises, we make sure that the knowledge transfer is both accessible and achieved in such a way that it provides the most favorable outcome to all those involved.
For trainees it is an opportunity to learn from professionals and also to get acquainted with Cognizant Softvision’s work environment and culture. The supervisors who conduct the program also benefit, as it gives them the opportunity to coach, teach and to transfer their knowledge to future colleagues. This means that we are able to create a closed feedback loop that people can enter, learn and grow, and ultimately become professionals in their own right who can train and support the next generations of trainees. It’s a community effort in its truest form.
The ToJ is an open program for those candidates that already have the theoretical knowledge at a foundation level and are ready and willing to continue building on top of it.
How does it work?
We basically look for people who have a minimal understanding of what is required to become a QA engineer. They need to have a basic foundation of core concepts, methods and how to apply them. This can be accomplished either through some previous work experience, by having participated in dedicated courses or even through independent study and discovery. On top of that, though, a big requirement is having a can-do attitude and the will to commit to continue improving in the required areas.
Once we identify people who fit the criteria above, they enter Cognizant Softvision at a trainee level and are ready to begin their journey. Our program is designed to last three months from the first day a trainee gets on-board until they are ready to graduate.
What does this mean, exactly?
Each trainee gets three things:
- A curricula which will serve as their guide during the three-month training period
- A supervisor who may or may not be an experienced trainer, but who is a skilled QA engineer with a will to share their knowledge
- A project that they join in order to get first-hand experience with the help of the two points above
There is also a fourth thing they get. The opportunity to take their first real steps within this field and build a wonderfully fulfilling career in the years to come.
It really is as simple as that. There are no strings attached and no other commitments at this point. At the end of the three month period, provided they do a good job and soak up as much knowledge and experience they can, if they choose to accept it, they have a seat at the table.
That said, the trainees are evaluated each step of the way and they receive all the support they need when facing challenges. In our experience, the three-month mark was used only as a confirmation of their progress so far and a good time to take our collaboration to the next level.
How is this different from a pre-employment training?
The main difference comes from the fact that the people participating in a ToJ enter in a one-on-one program are not a “class.” As such, the program is easier to manage and more lightweight in terms of planning and resources. For example, in 2018 the ToJ program had 18 candidates – the same number as our pre-employment training. However, due to the fact that once we identify a suitable candidate we can assign them to start the training immediately, we had start times which spanned over two months. This is much easier to manage and less demanding in terms of physical and mental resources.
The other thing that’s different is that a trainee who is a part of a ToJ program gets to sit with their project and their trainer from the get go. They get to be in a team environment, take part in team activities which are related to the project and see how other people are already doing the job they’re getting trained to do.
Unlike a pre-employment training, where the “class” has trainers taking the role of professors teaching a lesson, within the ToJ program, each trainee has their own trainer who is by their side over the course of the entire three-month period. This is a huge benefit and makes learning that much easier. It also helps alleviate any anxiety and gives them an anchor point.
But does it work?
As stated above, we had 18 trainees join this program in 2018. The final number of people who ended up joining our projects was, you guessed it, 18. And this didn’t happen at the end of the three-month period for most of them. We’ve had trainees officially join a project as early as three weeks into the program. The average, at the moment, is around the two-months mark.
Accepting trainees “early” is not something we did because we had to. We allocated them because they were at a point where their skills, ability and understanding were at the right level for the positions we had available. For most of them, this meant actually joining the projects they studied along with. For some it meant joining different projects successfully and finding that the things they learned could also be applied there.
Besides this being a great opportunity for the trainees, it was also a confirmation of the premises we looked at when setting this program up. We wanted to have a pool of potential candidates that we could tap into when needed. This meant that when the positions became available we had to look no further than our own backyard — no recruiting efforts, no technical interviews, no other activities that would delay us being able to fill a slot. Plus, the talent we had on hand were people we knew, who we trained, who we had experience with and who we felt comfortable moving forward with. No compromises.
So, does it work? Yes! And it’s an effort that has not only paid for itself several times over, but has set the stage for other iterations down the line. Because not only did the trainees learn a lot, we learned a lot. We were able to get feedback which allowed us to tweak our program, improve our curricula and refine our methods.
As a testament to the statements above, let’s have a quick look at what some of our trainers and trainees had to say about the whole experience:
“I looked at the ToJ experience as a daily task — something part of my routine which was not an overhead. There was a theoretical part at the beginning which meant a lot of reading for the trainee, but it was compensated with a practical part where he got a chance to become familiar with the project itself. In this way, he got the practice he needed so that he started being able to help on the project and ultimately become a part of it. I consider the whole experience a success for both.” — Lucian Surdu, Trainer
“This was a great way to share the knowledge I’ve harnessed all these years and also to revisit a lot of information that I’ve learned in the past. It has also been a great opportunity to see how the young minds look to this domain and shape them to meet Softvision’s standards – meaning high quality. All in all, I would I say this was a nice experience that I would reiterate in the future. Sharing is caring!” — Rares Macarie, Trainer
“It was a great opportunity for me to improve my teaching skills and to share the knowledge I have come to possess over the years, both project related and general QA stuff. Also, another great thing is having the trainee become your colleague on the project and seeing first hand the results of your lessons. Being a Trainer is a must have experience!” — Dana Popa, Trainer
“It was an interesting journey, a challenge for both the trainee and the trainer. As a trainer, I had the opportunity to recap some of the things I learned when beginning my career as a QA Engineer, and I also had the chance to test my patience, and to find new ways to help the trainee understand all the new information she received.” — Radu Costin, Trainer
“During the 3 months of training on the job I have accumulated much information from my trainer, Macri Daniel and my team leader, Lehene Marius. In addition, my colleagues, Domocos Alexandru, Pop Lucia, Saitis Alexandru, Dinu Mihai and Rus Bogdan have been of great help as they did not hesitate to answer my questions and explain me everything about the application.
[Cognizant] Softvision is a big company with great opportunities that can handle its employees, giving them many benefits, a relaxed atmosphere and pleasant offices in easily accessible areas.
About Macri Daniel, my trainer, I can say that we had a very good collaboration and he helped me with any problem I encountered or any questions I had, although sometimes he had more work to do and he made time to help me with calm and understanding.
Lehene Marius, my team leader, helped me and guided me throughout the training, enrolling me to all the necessary courses and helping me with any other questions or problems I had.
In the future I would like to work on this project with this young and dynamic team.” — Rares Desmirean, Trainee
For more information on Cognizant Softvision training programs, click here.