Inspiring Journeys from Classroom to Career: Blitz Interviews with Former DSS Trainees

30 Jan 2024 / 7 min. read

Inspiring Journeys from Classroom to Career: Blitz Interviews with Former DSS Trainees

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Each year, DSS organises a paid internship programme in collaboration with the Technical University of Sofia to help narrow the gap between business and education. Students excelling in their majors enter a three-month programme designed to foster the next generation of engineers and CTOs. The best of them are offered permanent positions at the company and are now one of our latest hires.

To gain a better understanding of our former interns who are now valued colleagues, we asked them a few questions about their experiences with DSS. We interviewed four ex-interns (now DSS team members), and here are their honest responses.

What drew you to the DSS internship programme, and how did you find out about it? 

Gabriela: When I saw the offer for the DSS internship at my university, TU-Sofia, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to work on front-end coding. I am very interested in this field and eager to learn more.

Elen: During the summer, I participated in an internship programme organised by the Technical University of Sofia, where I study. Lecturers from DSS conducted the programme, and our task was to develop a basic project using React and TypeScript. After successfully completing the internship, DSS offered me the opportunity to participate in their own trainee program.

Asya: I discovered an internship opportunity at my university and immediately realised its potential to provide me with practical work experience and knowledge. 

Yancho: I learned about the DSS programme from my mentor, Vassil, during my internship at TU-Sofia. I was eager to learn and develop my skills, so the opportunity that DSS was offering seemed perfect for me.

What did you like about the internship, and what benefits did you gain? 

Gabriela: What truly excited me about the internship was the fresh experience and wealth of knowledge I was able to acquire. It was thrilling when I finally got to interact with a real IT company, develop real-time applications, try out professional coding, and engage with some of the industry's most skilled IT personnel.  

Elen: I gained valuable experience in the IT industry, surrounded by professionals and learning new practices that were not available through university courses.

Asya: I appreciated the challenge the internship presented. The task we had to undertake was intriguing, and we had all the resources we needed, along with unwavering support from our mentor and the team throughout the process. I received a lot of advice from the team on how to improve in this field, and I had the chance to learn new things. Most importantly, the internship boosted my confidence in my programming skills, and I now apply the knowledge I gained in almost everything I do. 

Yancho: There was always someone available to help me in case I got stuck. It was great that one of the tasks required building a comprehensive and complete solution.

What did you learn, and what was the most exciting thing you discovered? 

Gabriela: After starting my coding journey and attending university, I finally got the opportunity to work as a front-end specialist. In this role, I had the chance to learn and work with the JavaScript framework React.js, which was an amazing discovery for me. I am glad to continue building my portfolio with this framework. 

Elen: I've learned a lot of new things recently. For instance, creating a web application from scratch, including database integration with another platform. Additionally, I learned how to work collaboratively with other team members and the necessary steps to create a valuable product.

Asya: I had limited experience with simple programming tasks at the beginning of the program. However, during the internship, I gained valuable knowledge and experience that cannot be obtained elsewhere. I learned how to approach problems to find the best solution optimally. The programme also exposed me to new technologies and methodologies I had never heard of before, which I currently use in my daily work and studies. I also gained confidence in my own skills and became comfortable asking for help when needed. 

Yancho: I acquired a deeper understanding of JavaScript, improved my frontend skills, and learned new technologies.

What did you like about your experience with the DSS team and your mentor/buddy? 

Gabriela: From day one, the DSS team extended a warm welcome, easing the usual anxieties of being the new one. My mentor, with their effective communication and politeness, played a significant role in this smooth transition. 

Elen: Everyone is friendly and willing to help if you need it. My mentor has a really effective way of teaching us. He shows us the main steps of achieving something, like setting clear objectives and breaking down tasks into manageable parts, allowing us to figure out the rest on our own. If we encounter any difficulties, he is always available to help us.

Asya: What I enjoyed the most was the fact that I received the necessary support from my mentor and the entire team whenever needed. The environment was very welcoming and friendly, and what I found amazing was the fact that I could approach any team member for help. 

Yancho: The DSS team is very welcoming and nice. 

Do you believe it's essential to narrow the gap between education and business, and if so, how can we accomplish this? 

Gabriela: I firmly believe that connecting education closely with the business sector is not just important but mandatory. This addresses perhaps the most significant concern of all students- securing a job in their chosen field of study. I recommend that every educational institution, university or school should offer internships tailored to the students' specialities. For example, annually for schools and every semester for universities, ensuring no one is left behind and everyone has an equal opportunity. 

Elen: I believe that the most crucial aspect missing in our education is practical lessons. Although theoretical lessons are also important, universities must give more attention to practical lessons. To address this issue, universities should offer more internships and opportunities for students to practice the skills they learned in theoretical classes.

Asya: Bridging the gap between education and business is of utmost importance. It provides students with invaluable exposure to real-world business scenarios and the opportunity to receive guidance from seasoned professionals. This connection not only enhances their learning experience but also prepares them for their future careers.   

Yancho: Education must serve business interests because one cannot do without the other. There is no point in education if it doesn’t guarantee realisation, and businesses have a responsibility to help education because it needs great engineers.

Tell us something about yourself – what do you do in your spare time? Activities, hobbies, sports, etc.? 

Gabriela: I consider myself a person with many hobbies and an insatiable desire to learn and experience new things. As a computer engineering student, I engage in various activities, such as researching various topics, coding projects, completing paperwork, and working with simulators and machines. My interests are diverse, but among them are coding, experimenting with additional things in Windows OS, repairing computer hardware, fixing cars and learning more about how they work, creating designs for my freelance print-on-demand shop, and studying nuclear physics and nuclear power plants.

Elen: Most of the time, I enjoy going out with my friends. I love meeting new people and forming strong connections with them. Communication is very important to me and helps motivate me and build my character. I also enjoy hiking out in nature as it allows me to witness the beauty of our world. Playing board games, cards, and video games are also some of my preferred forms of entertainment. 

Asya: Whenever I have some free time, I love to read science fiction books or explore bookshops in search of new and exciting reads. In addition to that, I like to hit the gym as a way to unwind after a stressful day. Cooking is another activity that I truly enjoy, especially baking. 

Yancho: I enjoy a variety of physical activities, including running, fitness, and rock climbing. Additionally, I have a passion for robotics and programming my own projects.

If your friends or colleagues are considering internship programmes like ours, what would you tell them? 

Gabriela: I recommend trying out the company as a junior developer. The work environment is welcoming to newcomers and provides an opportunity to learn beyond what is taught in university.

Elen: I will encourage them to dive in without overthinking, as it's a great way to learn and improve oneself.

Asya: I would recommend that they enrol in a programme like ours at DSS, as it presents a challenging experience with many advantages. It allows students to learn new skills within a work setting, gain valuable experience, and access helpful knowledge, best-in-class technologies, and innovative methodologies that could benefit them from now on. 

Yancho: If you are passionate about programming, don't be afraid to join the programme. 

What are your biggest and boldest dreams?  

Gabriela: My biggest and boldest dream is to have a career in two fields. Firstly, I aspire to become a team lead developer or an excellent senior software engineer proficient in full-stack development and with a great understanding of hardware. Secondly, I hope to obtain a degree in nuclear physics so that one day I can become a nuclear physicist.

Elen: My ultimate goal is to create a project that will be widely used by people and become one of the most significant projects in the world.

Asya: One of my biggest aspirations is to work on an AI model, particularly in developing machine learning algorithms for automation. 

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