We have teamed up with RAF to improve education in Serbia, giving students both the theoretical knowledge and an opportunity to apply it in a real life work environment. The outcome of our collaboration has been better than we could have hoped for.
“The youth is the hope of our future” was once said by a spanish polymath José Rizal, and like him Devana Technologies strongly believes that it is the youth of today that we must invest in, support and encourage to fulfill their full potential. RAF (Računarski fakultet) shares our opinion and has direct contact with young people. It is comforting to meet like minded professionals, and have the opportunity to work together on various projects.
Over the years we have been collaborating on projects, internships and events with RAF and our first encounter was initiated by a student of theirs, Filip Stanisavljević. He is one of many RAF scholarship students, who has dedicated his time and hard work in creating the national competition in Serbia called Hackathon, giving all IT enthusiasts (softwares engineers, designers and managers) the opportunity to work together on software development. He got in contact with us, and our COO Ivan Bjelajac immediately saw the positive impact that this competition can have on all young software engineers and fully supported the project.
Theory and Technical Know-How
RAF and Devana Technologies have come together to support each other in giving back to the society. In the words of Helen Keller “alone we can do so little: together we can do so much”, and indeed together we have made huge steps in the right direction. What is important in the making of bright minds, is having both the theoretical knowledge and the time to apply this in practice. RAF as a college has dedicated itself to pouring knowledge into its students, but unlike other colleges they insist on giving their students the time and place where to apply it in a real life work environment.
This is how Devana Technologies can help RAF students. We offer them various ways in which they can have their first contact with a professional setting. We have a great internship programme, inviting RAF students to apply their knowledge in our field of expertise. They can meet our development team, share their experiences and have a real taste of what it’s like to work on an ongoing project. This helps both the students gain experience and further their skills, and us in finding the right individuals to join our team. We have a tough hiring system and over time we have employed around a quarter of RAF graduates. The experience with us has helped them either find what they are looking for and stick around, or pointed them in the right direction, with RAF graduates being employed by companies likes Facebook and Google.
The Mentoring Project
A recent initiative has been launched, where RAF students get mentored by Devana employees. This is both on a project and personal level. Projects involve a group of students that develop software together like Student Info Board, where two Devana software engineers Bogdan Habić and Miljan Tekić helped lead the project. We also encourage our software engineers to mentor students on their dissertations and help them develop new creative software.
Our similar attitude and way of thinking does not stop there. Ljiljana Bjeličić, RAF PR and Marketing Executive, with whom I had the pleasure of talking to for this article, reminded me of a very important value that we share and that is our work ethic and culture. We are one big chaotic family. We like working together in a team, we enjoy helping each other and as a team we strive to create better software. This is something that is highly valued at RAF, students work in close knit groups on projects throughout college. It is only natural that we fit together like well built Lego pieces.
The family feeling goes a long way both at Devana and RAF. What stuck with me is when Ljiljana said:
“Apart from the technical subjects, we make sure that our students (college and high school) have a dose of social studies so to speak. At our IT high school, we have a social studies subject and at RAF college we teach language classes, so that our students learn how to express themselves eloquently.”
RAF students are learning how to share their knowledge with non IT professionals, how to explain their complex projects in layman terms and we at Devana appreciate this kind of education. A good team member is a person who can communicate with everyone, and I for one (not a software engineer) see how important it is for them to explain software to me using words in my dictionary. This way we can share our knowledge back and forth with no language barrier.
A Student’s Perspective
In order to paint the whole picture and understand what this collaboration has brought to us both, I also sat down to speak to one of our software engineers, who happens to be a current RAF student. “What I realised when I started working is that being a software engineer is more than just writing code, it’s about working in a team and solving problems together”, said Bogdan Habić. The benefits are that the material he learnt at RAF could be applied at Devana. He is working with colleagues that have the same education, so they can advise him and help him improve. My first thought when sitting down with Bogdan was, how does he manage it all? “I actually find that working at Devana helps me study for RAF and the projects are directly connected, so while at work I am also studying”.
Future Education Projects
Devana and RAF plan to carry on this mutually beneficial relationship, like the hummingbird and the dianthus flower need each other, so do we. Together we can better educate and support our youth, giving them the best possible chance at success.
In the future we are looking to give RAF a lending hand on various projects, one being encouraging girls to start looking at IT careers. As me and Ljiljana would say “computers are not just for boys, and girls it’s not all just about writing code”.