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Growing junior talent within a digital team

Development · Aug 27, 2020

Over the last few years, we have been scaling exponentially and leveraged senior talent to help us achieve creating a seamless digital experience for our customers. Now that we are at scale, we had an opportunity to look for new ways to expand opportunities at TELUS Digital among all levels of talent within the local tech community. 

The Developer Landscape

With only 9% of team members at the junior level, this prompted our team to dig deeper into ways we could improve. Hiring is only the tip of the iceberg. We wanted to go beyond and provide new opportunities as a chance to develop their skills and grow their careers at TELUS. This goal was not something we wanted to do once and move on but rather consistently develop and maintain a hiring strategy at Digital. The power of brainstorming led us to create the Junior Developer Program. 

We put our heads together to try and figure out a solution around the ways we could increase the number of junior team members within TELUS Digital. We socialized the program with key stakeholders including tech leads, managers, and directors to gain additional insight and input on how we would be able to support junior talent and thus was born the Junior Developer Program! 

We came together to decide on the topics, create a high-level schedule, and outline of how we wanted the program to operate. We presented our program to the Leadership team and got their approvals. Originally, we planned to hire 4 junior team members (2 in Toronto and 2 in Vancouver) but the program ended up being so highly sought after by our leadership team that by the time we started the recruitment process, we had received requests and approval to hire 8 junior developers in our very first cohort. 

Diving into the Junior Developer Program

In creating the Junior Developer Program, we had to put ourselves in the position of the candidate and find ways to create an all-around ideal team member experience. We wanted to grow and increase the diversity of skills at TELUS while providing a structured program to grow these team members’ long term careers at TELUS. 

The Junior Developer Program or JDP for short was created to give junior team members the opportunity to be fully immersed into a team with the support and knowledge they needed. The program is broken down into 2 areas of focus. The first 6 months is primarily front end focused with general topics being taught such as learning about ES2020 Features, including TELUS specific topics such as How to use Contentful. The following 6 months of the program is back end development focused on topics such as API, Node JS, and TELUS specific topics such as how we build app templates. 

Working at a large organization can be overwhelming for anyone. We wanted to provide a comfortable space for junior team members to be able to learn, grow and develop while gaining confidence at TELUS. By providing the right support, we want our JDP graduates to be able to fully immerse themselves within our culture and team structures. This provided an unique opportunity to leverage our senior team members and managers with mentorship opportunities. This was also another way we could engage our team members and produce stronger cross-team collaborations. 

Partnerships within the tech community are very important to TELUS. For the JDP specifically, we partnered with JUNO, General Assembly, and Lighthouse Labs to help us find these incredible individuals to hire. With so much amazing talent, we had a challenging time even narrowing down the candidates. To further our partnership, JUNO and General Assembly are planning to teach the current cohort for a couple of sessions. We’ve leveraged their expertise within the tech industry to enhance our program topics to promote further growth. Building and maintaining these partnerships is much more than just for hiring needs, it’s also a way we can give back and get involved with the local tech community.

We launched the first cohort in May 2020. Almost two and a half months into the program, we’ve received amazing feedback from team members, the managers, our partners, and the hired Junior Developers themselves. The first cohort has been an exceptionally strong group that has been aided by all the support that we have received from the team internally as well as from some incredible companies we partnered with.

“Partnering with TELUS Digital on the Junior Developer Program has been incredibly exciting and rewarding. Innovative initiatives like this will truly impact the career growth of our future Developers. We hope to see an expansion of this program and to contribute in any way we can!”  - Heather Payne, CEO, JUNO

"The Telus Digital Junior Developer program is a road map for what is possible with new approaches to inclusive hiring. In partnership with GA, Telus has been able to hire more Women in tech and other very talented individuals, who go from a desire for a better career, to placed in a position with a Canadian leader in tech within 3 months. We are so grateful for this collaboration with the Telus Digital team as it has opened up new doors for our students; we hope to see other organizations follow this model." - Joshua Doner, Marketing Manager, Toronto, General Assembly

Looking into the future

Overall, this program is extremely important for the future of not just the TELUS Digital team but TELUS as a whole. Seeing the results of the program provides the opportunity to grow this program across the organization as a whole with the purpose to help teach more team members the inner workings of the tech industry and the Digital space. Our mission is to develop a pipeline of strong and diverse junior talent for all TELUS Teams, across the Development discipline and I believe we are well on our way.

Authored by:
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Sareena Motwane
Project Manager
Sareena Motwane is a Project Manager at TELUS Digital. When she's not travelling, you can find her focusing on hiring talent for the Junior Programs and on-boarding new hires in Toronto.