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Junior Developer Exchange Program Idea

Liip has a lot of employees that start their IT career with us. We invest heavily in helping them grow, not only in terms of coding but also in other aspects. For example since we essentially have no hierarchy in teams, young developers can very easily take on new responsibilities. All they have to do is build up the trust within their team rather than having to convince upper management to give them a new title, just because they want to try out a new role in a project. We are also very proud of the top 10 rating we have in terms of employee happyness. At the same time we have noticed a certain pattern that after 4-5 years with us, many of these young developer built up a certain "wanderlust". They want to see how things are out there. A while ago I had already formulated the idea of an exchange program to address this need on my private blog. While talking to fellow Liiper Nadja, we have now matured the idea a bit more, which let me to sending out a short tweet that managed to get over 30 retweets in less than 12 hours: "looking for a non-swiss web product company to partner with @liip on a exchange program to give junior devs a chance to explore the world."

Here is a short FAQ with the current state of the idea. I will continously update it. Nothing is set in stone yet but I got a lot of requests for additional information. So here it goes.

What is this about?

Building a network of companies that enable young developers to easily work at one of the other companies in the network. In the first step however, the goal is to test this out with just a bi-directional exchange, ie. Liip and one other company.

Why young developers?

Many young developers have not yet had the opportunity to work for different companies, in different countries. They might have only done product developer or only web agency work. They come at a point where they need to try out something different in order to judge what they want to do in the future.

What would be an eligible partner company?

Liip is a Swiss web agency, that emphasis ethical values. In this sense we envision a non swiss company that works with web technologies that on some level shares out ethical values. In order to make things more interesting, the idea would be to partner with a product company, ie. a company that maintains a few products with their own end users rather than a web agency.

What if the employee then decides to not come back?

I think this is a risk both sides have to be willing to accept. Realize that likely with young developers this would likely happen anyway if they are not happy with where they are at: there are simply too many options out there to choose from. On the flip side, if they do come back, they will likely be more motivated since many "what if" questions have been answered. Furthermore, even if you do loose an employee, they will likely appreciate the opportunity you have given them. A network of ex-employees that keep you in good memory never hurts.

How would it work in practice?

In order to not complicate the legal situation the current trail concept would like this:

  • One employee from each company with roughly 1-3 years of experience volunteers to take part in the first trail.
  • Both countries need to be within the EU and associated countries that allow for automatic work permits (for now Switzerland is still in this system).
  • The 2 employees effectively quit their current job and sign a new contract with the other company.
  • They would then sign a temporary contract for 6-12 months with the other company.
  • The intention is for them to return to their former company within 6-12 months.

Who should I contact to discuss this further?

Please either leave a comment or contact me by email. My contact details are in this blog posts signature.

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Comments [4]

Dean, 18.03.2014 11:14 CEST

Hi Lukas,

In my opinion this is a great idea. I remember that I had in mind to quit my job as a software tester and move on to other company just to see how the other companies are doing their testing and how they are organized.

Taking part to a experience like this can boost your confidence and allow young developers to make a chance to their job for a short time period without losing their jobs. (For example a young developer is doing great at Liip but fails at another company).

I consider this exchange program a risk only when a company is located in a country that is not advanced economically.

Amir, 27.03.2014 09:53 CEST

Hi Kahwe,
The Idea is perfect and in the last year i always had a an eye for a temporary place to experience new things in another company. (Liip was also in my list ;-) )

But the thing is I am not sure this works with a lot of companies , cause it is about training and educating employees and in today's competetive industry how much managers are willing to pay for that? Not having an employee for six months and keeping his place is priceless.

Lukas Kahwe Smith, 27.03.2014 10:00 CEST

Yes, I guess it is easier for mid-sized companies. For smaller companies the short term productivity loss, might not offset the mid/long term gains.

ramzi, 13.05.2014 14:06 CEST

Graduated with a degree in Computer Sciences few years ago, I'm currently working as a web developer on one hand and a freelancer in the same field on the other hand.... I'm looking here for an on-going project.
For further informations, do not hsitate to contact me.

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