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How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers

Gen Y software engineer all-stars are easy to find, but hard to retain. Try these steps to keep them happy and productive.

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Engineering enrollment at universities in the U.S. is on the rise. As these new graduates hit the market, most employers have no clue how to attract them, how to train them, what core skills they bring to the table, and what will make them happy and productive.

At my company, Mindtree, we are hiring over 100 software engineers, testers, UI/UX designers, and business analysts per year from U.S. universities and we have become successful at tapping into this talent market. We are seeing approximately a 10% annual increase in engineering enrollment across the country and that is great news for our industry.

There is a great deal of talent emerging in the market, but as a potential employer, you have to understand the nuances of the universities, the students, and the entire playing field in order to attract graduates to your company and make them successful. To complicate things further, universities vary in their teaching methods and course curriculum, so a cookie-cutter approach to recruitment and training won't work.

The first step to being successful in recruiting Generation Y software engineers is understanding the university landscape. The great debate in engineering schools is whether to teach a theoretical or practical curriculum. The best schools do both, but this is not the case at every university and it can even vary from professor to professor within universities.

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Some universities are way ahead of others in developing disciplines, changing curriculum, and evolving their programs. Here are some great examples of how universities and colleges are progressing:

-- A large university in the Southeast now offers computer science as a minor to liberal arts majors. These folks make great developers.

-- A large university in the upper Midwest now offers data analytics as a minor and also has established a master's in human-computer interaction.

-- A mid-size university in the South now offers a minor in business intelligence.

-- A specialty university in the Southeast has a tremendous digital arts program where great UI/UX talent can be found.

-- A large Midwestern university boasts a "Women in Engineering" community because it now has 600 women enrolled in its engineering school.

-- Community colleges are on the rise and are aggressively changing their curricula. One large community college in Florida now offers classes in QA and agile.

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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2013 | 8:48:30 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
A positive work environment, enlightened management and engaging challenges trump a high-salary at a dysfunctional organization.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 9:22:24 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
I just met with an exec from ACE insurance at The Big Data Conference in Chicago. The firm is pioneering big-data approaches that are reducing claims and underwriting costs. She said she drew young big data talent away from a bank, phama firms and casinos with the promise of joining an autonomous, dot-com-like innovation team with its own budget and innovation agenda. It was all about the challenges, not the pay. Kaggle also proves that many bright people respond to big challenges. Keep that in mind before assuming you'll have to pony up big, six-figure salaries.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 2:25:55 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
As someone who complains that college does not prepare you for the real world, it's encouraging to hear more technology courses are being added to curriculums. It's also encouraging that Gen Y software engineers are more concerned with work environment and culture than compensation and career path. Yet, it's that very characteristic that makes them hard to hold on to. They know they have the needed skills to land a job somewhere else.
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