How we are building a positive feedback loop of representation in our Internship Program for Engineers
At VTEX, we believe that the path to a more diverse workforce involves two things: 1) creating affirmative programs and 2) understanding the needs of others and ensuring that each person has the necessary tools to show their potential. I will be talking about the second point in this post.
One of the main initiatives I coordinate in the Early Careers department is the VTEX Internship Program for Engineers. For three months, the selected students are responsible for a project that must solve a specific product problem. At the end of the internship, VTEX is able to expand the scope of the results, and the interns gain valuable knowledge to start their careers.
Unlike projects like Tech Women Bootcamp or Black Tech Writer, the Internship Program was not created with affirmative action in mind. But, considering that people with different experiences need different conditions to feel comfortable in situations like interviews, we made some adaptations that contributed to making the program more representative.
Breaking down invisible barriers
In past editions, we noticed that many women gave up on participating in the selection process after the technical interview stage. In that part, there is a coding challenge where candidates must solve a programming problem live. The withdrawals made the number of female candidates who were approved very uneven.
Considering the underrepresentation of women in computer science courses, which make up, on average, only 15% of enrolments, together with factors like the impostor syndrome, we reflected on how we could “fix” the Internship Program selection process and promote one of the fundamentals that guide our culture, which is authenticity.
Since 2020, we have offer all people who identify with the female gender the opportunity to have a female coaching session. This initiative, reserved for the technical interview phase, is a 1-hour conversation with a female VTEX software engineer based on the female candidates’ needs and questions.
This meeting helps students create genuine gender references with the women who work at VTEX. Through these conversations and sharing of experiences, our goal is to show the female candidates that they are in an environment that respects and welcomes each person’s way of being and that they are being evaluated by a team that already sees them as technology professionals, regardless of the outcome of the challenge.
The 2021 edition of the Internship Program was the second time we offered the students female coaching. We already have very significant results to share:
- 100% of female candidates participated in female coaching.
- For the first time, no female student dropped out in the technical phase.
- Women represent 60% of the passing group.
We recognize that there are many variables that affect this outcome, but we value the impact these actions can have not only on creating a more diverse company but on the lives of students starting their careers in a mostly male environment.
Our team of female engineers is mutually strengthened by a reciprocal relationship of learning and collaboration, which has generated inspiring testimonials from both the female coaches and their students:
“It’s been so cool to talk to the girls. Thank you very much for the opportunity! I learned a lot,” Vilma Alves, Software Engineer.
“I would just like to say that I really liked the idea of Female Coaching, and I also really liked that it was two women walking me through the challenge phase. I could feel more at ease and more confident.” Anonymous report in our satisfaction survey after completion of the technical phase.
If you want to work in a company that is proud to build a more diverse and inclusive future, visit the Internship Program page and receive news about the selection process!