Internship - Who Is The Real Winner?

28 February 2022
By Triin Sikkal, HR Director
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The latest OSKA analysis states that the Estonian ICT sector needs 2600 new ICT sector specialists every year. Developers, data analysts, and cyber security specialists are especially sought after. Already now we have more open positions in the ICT sector than we have ever seen and there probably isn’t a company that would not want to attract and recruit new employees with previous IT experience. But what to do if the job market is not giving you the number of new employees you need to grow your business?

In Playtech, we have always tried to help young people get a start in the job market by offering them various internships and starting positions in tech. Ten years ago it was done more on an ad hoc basis and ten interns per summer was the maximum for us, but in the past few years our approach has evolved a great deal. Employing interns is not only an excellent way to support future talent and our education system but also a way to meet your possible long-term employees as soon as possible. Last year we hired 28 employees who got their start in Playtech via an internship program.

Summer Internship Program 2021 interns. 

The conversations in business have changed direction. In the early years internship programs were often an HR-driven process and several managers needed to be convinced that bringing someone with no previous practical experience into their teams and investing time and effort in them would pay off in the future. Now the managers are ahead of HR and come to us with specific needs and plans, which creates a highly forward-looking synergy. IMS has been one of the business units that has supported employing interns from the start and has believed in the potential of raising new talent through internships. The head of IMS, Ergo Jõepere, acknowledges, “I believe our internship programs have been hugely successful and the value it offers to all the involved parties is exceptional. For students, we provide an opportunity to work in a fun yet challenging environment. They get to work with experienced professionals, on real product backlog. Everything they do has a business value, with the potential impact reaching to millions of euros. Mentors have an opportunity to practice their management skills and IMS can potentially recruit some top talent. I'd say that this a true recipe for success. In 2022, IMS will be welcoming more than 30 students throughout the year and among them will be our future stars and domain experts.”

For running a successful internship program, it is critical that the business managers have thought through their needs and prepared the team and the tasks for the intern. But what else is needed?

Interns, similarly to all employees, need a community that is supportive and learning-oriented, that helps them find their passion, and provides them with the necessary tools to succeed. And that is the direction we are aiming in at Playtech. We welcome interns for at least two months, very often for an even longer period, to show them the real, practical job tasks and give them a chance to learn in a safe, flexible environment and under the close supervision of dedicated mentors who have been trained for that role. An internship definitely provides the intern with opportunities to put their theoretical knowledge into practice in actual projects and see the outcome. There is also an added benefit for the organization – as mentors, potential future leaders can work on their coaching, delegation, and feedback skills and develop ways of responding to the fresh and sometimes crazy ideas and perspectives that interns often bring to the team.

As an intern, it is important to take the maximum out of the program and the community. Make sure that you understand all the processes and tasks and ask all the necessary questions. Build a network of contacts not only within your team and business unit, but also more widely across the organization. Use all the additional opportunities provided by common internship events and company-wide and team events. For example, I still remember how last year, on the first day of the Summer Internship Program, we suddenly had an opening in Playtech’s Tipust Topini team and the fastest person to raise their hand was an intern who had just joined the company. He got a pretty unique experience with 19 other playtechians, running in 48 hours from Munamäe to Pirita.

Offering internship opportunities strengthens our educational system and provides students with a great opportunity to put their knowledge into practice in real business projects. And as the past decade has shown – at least in Playtech – if selected and supported well, many interns can continue growing in permanent positions in Playtech. Or if their studies need their full concentration, they will return to apply for a job later. And as an employer, we are happy to have them, so it is a win-win situation for all!

Some facts about internship programs in Playtech Estonia:

  • The Summer Internship Program was first launched in 2012 and has been running ever since. It was not even cancelled during the first year of COVID-19.
  • The number of interns has grown from 10 in 2012 to 48 in 2021. This year we plan to employ 52 interns to fill more than 30 different roles.
  • In 2021 we received 1170 applicants.
  • More than half of the interns continued as permanent members of our teams in 2020 and 2021.
  • In 2021/2022 we launched the Winternship Java Special program for the first time.
  • Feedback from interns in 2021 – Favorite part of internship: Work was balanced with fun. The opportunities for development and the resources made available for the interns were really impressive. Playtech as a work environment! First time interacting with an actual IT company, the vibe is cool! The community. Opportunities to create some design elements which are actually being used in system interfaces and the Summer Days! My colleagues and the atmosphere in my whole team. Basically every morning I came to the office in a good mood, because everyone in Playtech is really friendly and I enjoy working here. The work tasks were super interesting and rewarding.

Are you also considering starting an internship program? Make sure to have:

  • Buy-in from the business.
  • Managers’ support.
  • Team readiness and preparation.
  • A proper selection process in place.
  • A transparent approach to salary – we have kept a similar level for all internship roles, with no differentiation at this stage.
  • An organizational culture that supports learning and development.
Application to our Summer Internship Program 2022 is open until 20th of March. Check more information and open positions playtech.ee/internship.

" More than half of the interns continued as permanent members of our teams in 2020 and 2021."