The second in a two-part series, Robert Zuberec our Director, Development Center, and Alena Jankuliakova our Human Resources Manager, both based at our Slovakia offices, share details and insights about what makes The Descartes Co-operative Education and Internship Program a world-class experience.

What makes this Descartes program stand out?

The Descartes Co-operative Education and Internship Program is designed to bring qualified and motivated students with diverse backgrounds into the team to work on real projects. Our main goal is to give students the opportunity to provide them with an experience that inspires them to continue their education in technology. We do so by exposing them to all aspects of the business, holding them accountable for specific deliverables that will improve their analytical and technical skills in an international environment, and mentoring them so they will succeed in this highly competitive field.

What characteristics are you looking for when hiring?

After more than 10 years of experience with the Descartes Co-operative Education and Internship Program, most of our students come from the University of Zilina, so we are confident in their basic academic and technical competencies. We look for the comfort to communicate in English as they will be part of a global team and analytical skills are important, but the motivation to learn and grow is essential. 

How do you support the learning and growth of your interns? 

At Descartes, we treat our students on an equal level as our employees. They take part in our company onboarding, and our internal R&D Descartes Academy where they learn the standard processes and technologies used in Descartes. They can also attend language, communications, and presentation skills courses. Upon starting, our goal is to immerse them fully as part of a professional product engineering team.

What are examples of projects and unique work that students have been a part of? 

Students will often take the research work they are assigned here and expand it academically to fit a project or paper requirement for their courses. These are highly complex technical processes that they wouldn’t otherwise gain exposure to. For example, investigating automation of RestAPI deployment from code directly to Azure Cloud API Management with the use of Azure DevOps pipelines. Another example includes a student Software Tester who explored the possibilities of stress testing the application and its endpoints through APIs. In addition, we provide daily opportunities for our students to grow their soft skills by taking on the Scrum Master role, collaborating to plan and refine task requirements and organize an Agile meeting.

All of these examples are highly valued skills and direct experience that expands the employability of the student after they graduate. 

What do you think are the benefits of an internship program, for both the employer and the students?  

Our students learn from our skilled senior software engineers and gain a truly global perspective in the field, using technology while working with professional-level quality requirements and development processes, and business communications. 

For the organization, we increase our visibility as an employer of choice to the students at the University of Zilina. We are able to work with potential team members, determine if they have the skills and the fit for the work we are doing, and quickly fill open positions.

During the first year of our program, all of our students were offered and accepted permanent roles on the team after graduation. After a decade, our capacity to support students has tripled. We recently made offers to 90% of the participants after the program and 60% accepted.

It’s an incredibly rewarding experience for both sides, but even more so when they return after graduating. From their perspective, they are familiar with the culture, the development processes, and the product. For us, the onboarding and ramp-up time is shorter and we can have them ready to continue working with other software engineers much faster. 

Descartes associates standing in front of a Descartes-branded booth.

Established in 2008, The Descartes Co-operative Education and Internship Program has been employing students within Canada to provide valuable hands-on experience and skill development. The opportunity to truly be part of the advanced solutions we build and the global community we foster positions the Descartes Co-operative Education and Internship Program as an exceptional experience for students. It’s a chance to learn more about the people and teams that make up our company and the possibilities for your future career at Descartes or beyond.