Future Pros – how the willingness to learn can be transformed into valuable work experience

Agota Šuliokaitė, participant in the Future Pros programme of Danske Bank IT Lithuania centre

The majority of students start looking for work and career opportunities during their studies. Not many would argue against the notion that practical experience is just as important as theoretical knowledge obtained in university and that is worthwhile to start collecting it as soon as possible. It is this desire to get practical experience and new knowledge that let me to participate in the Future Pros programme for IT students developed by Danske Bank and took my first career steps in the IT field. 


 

The possibility to obtain experience and a salary

At the end of my first year of university I started looking for opportunities for a summer internship, where I could gain practical programming skills and experience in an IT company. The ad for Future Pros was one of the few that captured my attention, because it clearly stated what skills the candidates were expected to have (and they were not out of this world for a first-year university student). Needless to say, the fact that that the position was a paid one and the programme was specially designed for students, which allowed for flexibility in managing both studies and work made the programme even more attractive.

The selection process was done in English, comprised several stages and was a little intimidating at the start. First, I needed to do a logics test online. Afterwards I was invited to a Danske Bank assessment session, during which I was asked to solve logic – mathematic tasks, to write several programming functions and to participate in a group exercise. During the session, there was also a technical interview in which we discussed my completed tasks and I received some questions related to programming. In the last stage of the interview, I completed a personality test, the results of which were discussed during the second interview.

Most important – the desire to learn

In my opinion, my desire to gain knowledge and experience was the factor that allowed me to successfully pass the selection process. I had no prior practical experience, but I clearly communicated my determination to obtain it and to learn new things. During my first days, I familiarised myself with the basic processes, systems and working as a part of the team in accordance with the Agile methodology. My mentor shared a list of sources from which I could learn in order to be able to start real programming tasks as soon as possible. In order for students to successfully adapt to working in a large international company, Future Pros learning sessions were organised.

Even though, I understood the basics of programming prior to starting my work, I did not have the slightest of ideas of how programmers actually work. At Danske Bank I was immediately drawn into the work rhythm and was considered an equally valued member of the team. My main responsibility was to learn by taking on small programming tasks little by little. However, there was no tension or expectations that I should understand everything immediately and to quickly perform my tasks. The other team members and managers understood that I am learning and were very supportive.

My first task was related to writing tests. I had a good opportunity to acquaint myself with the system with which I will have to work, my questions were answered by my mentor, who was sitting right beside me. Sometimes we would look for answers together. Of course, the individual experience of each student may be slightly different, because the teams work with different systems, face various different challenges and also chose slightly different approaches to mentoring new team members. This year as many as 14 teams are looking for new students!

Working in a large ambitious company

My impressions of the IT centre of Danske Bank in Lithuania (DGITL) were of a fast expanding company that does not stand still in one place. In particular I took note of that even though the number of employees in the company is substantial, they care for each individual person. You know that you can freely express your opinion and that it will be taken into consideration as much as possible.

Special attention is paid to the wellbeing of employees at work: the environment is made positive and comfortable, that the employees would not only have the possibility to work comfortably, but to relax in the recreational areas, game rooms, to have a delicious breakfast or lunch at the cafeteria  and to keep in good physical shape at the gym. Various teambuilding exercises are also organised during which you can get to know your colleagues outside of the work environment.

No need to sacrifice studies for work

The Future Pros programme provides a wonderful opportunity to easily enter the workforce of a large company while not having to sacrifice the quality of your studies, because this programme puts emphasis on the importance of studies. Students are encouraged not to choose full-time work, but such an option is left available.

The work schedule is very flexible: when the timetable of the semester changes it is possible to change your working hours, if there is an unexpected change in the time of a lecture or an exam - it is possible to talk with the team and to transfer several working hours to a different day. During the exam session students are provided with extra paid vacation days in order to pass their exams.

I believe that it is very important that the Future Pros programme is particularly geared towards students and that is why there are always people who are in your age group or your course next to you. And they are taking the same path in Danske Bank, so you do not feel lonely and always have someone to share your experiences and impressions with. We also have a wonderful programme coordinator – Vitalija, who organises various activities and events.

This year Danske Bank is looking for more than 40 students! I am very pleased that another group will be offered the possibility to see how operates a large IT organisation, to join their ambitious projects and to learn and experience something new every day. All you need is determination and to not be afraid of challenging yourself.