“Our Internship Program Is Based on Three Es: Education, Exposure & Experience”

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With cloud adaption growing at a massive speed today, for all developers, keeping updated with the latest technologies and upskilling themselves is becoming the need for the hour. Here is an interview with Manoj Sharma, HR Director, NetApp India, where he talks about how a developer should upskill himself, skillsets in demand today, open source opportunities, hiring, academic and internship programs at NetApp to Ankita KS from EFY Group. Excerpts follow…

Q: What are the skill sets that are required for a developer to get hired in a company like NetApp? While you hire, what are the skillsets that you look at?

Data is the lifeblood of all organizations, in today’s digital era of business transformation, cloud computing is a lucrative skillset to acquire. Developers and young engineers should focus on building their technology expertise in domains such as Agile development, DevOps and containers.

Full stack developers are also one of the most sought-after roles these days. The capability to work on a project independently is beneficial for an organization and full-stack developers can work with proficiency both on front-end as well as the back-end development of an application or product. At NetApp, we look for candidates who are strong in programming, database and DevOps skills such as C++, Kernel, Java, Angular JS, Node JS, Dockers, Containers, Kubernetes, Cloud Service APIs with microservices and Rest API. While we strive to get the exact fit for the roles, we also understand that the right mindset and attitude can help us train people from a different domain, provided their technical aptitude is strong.

Q: What is your advice to developers who are working on the open-source, cloud and other cutting-edge technologies?

Developer teams play an important role in the ability of a business to pursue new revenue streams. Developers are expected to create cloud-aware applications on Next Gen Datacenters, which use microservices architectures running in containers, in infrastructure-agnostic designs so they are cloud-portable between public cloud providers and private cloud. Cloud adoption is growing at breakneck speed and keeping yourself up to date on current technology trends is more important now than ever. Always be open to question, contribute and create. Borrow ideas from unrelated fields if it helps you innovate. Cloud development environment may still be somewhat new to developers and they must become familiar with the new platforms like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. It’s important to upskill constantly and sharpen your database, programming, Linux and DevOps skills.

Q: What are the types of roles that you would be hiring?

We hire across experience levels for our India R&D center, from college graduates to senior engineers. Some of the roles that we typically hire for include Software Developers, Software Architects, Cloud Architects, Cloud Operations Engineers, Automation Developers, QA Engineers, Programmer Analysts, and Systems Analysts.

Q: Could you please brief about the academia partnership programs conducted by NetApp?

NetApp collaborates with academia and universities on several levels. Other than internships, code-a-thons, and university hiring programs, we run an Academic Alliances Program and a University Research Partnership program.

NetApp’s University Research Program has been in force since 2007 and is led by the research team at NetApp, the Advanced Technology Group. The primary focus is to collaborate with professors of international repute conducting research in technology areas of interest to NetApp.

The program revolves around two types of fellowships granted to the institute. NetApp Faculty Fellowship (NFF) is the flagship grant, that NetApp provides to internationally acclaimed professors for furthering their research agenda. NetApp engineers work with the professor and the students collaboratively on research problems of industrial interest for 18 months. The second type of fellowship we provide is to support students more directly and is the central part of NetApp Student Fellowship (NSF). This program is of one-year duration. Here we take the recommendation from a professor on an interesting student research project, typically a part of a larger project and provide grants on the same lines as of NetApp Faculty Fellowship (NFF).

The NetApp University Research Program has led to fruitful collaborations with reputed universities across the country like Indian Institute of Science and Research, IITs in Delhi, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Bombay and IIIT Bangalore, ISI Kolkata among others. Through these partnerships, advances have been made in the areas of building systems that give early warning of impending system problems, and proactive problem avoidance. The research has led to an oversizing goal of setting up self-healing, self-correcting systems using machine learning and analytics. These research relationships help in identifying important Tech Trends on the horizon. Spotting such a trend, building expertise around such trends and finding out implications is essential to remain at the cutting edge of technology.

Q: Could you brief about NetApp Academic Alliances Program?

With the Academic Alliances Program, NetApp works with faculty at colleges and universities to provide them the curriculum and teaching resources to infuse storage, data management, and cloud-related content into their curriculum. The goal is to help develop students’ expertise in data management technology and help build the industry-ready talent to drive the ecosystem in long-term. The program aims at enriching the learning opportunities for students. An innovative Boot Camp which is a technical training and certification program for graduates/ faculty where students/ Faculty of eminent technology colleges spend 2 days at our Bangalore campus to understand the technologies of NetApp; they also get to interact with NetApp executives and interpret or create awareness of NetApp technology. We also provide access to shared learning resources like NetApp Massive Open Online Courses and Virtual Simulators (VSIMs) which provides an opportunity to gain industry certification- NetApp Certified Software Associate (NCSA), which in turn increases their chances to gain better jobs in the industry.

The Academic Alliances Program also provides faculty and schools with teaching resources that they otherwise might not have access to. For example, the latest storage technology courses, self-paced labs, the latest analyst reports, and customer case studies.

Q: Do you have a formal Internship program to train freshers for the industry? If yes, can you share how’s it designed to actually make them industry-ready?

NetApp has a dedicated internship program that provides meaningful work to enhance industry knowledge as well as gain insight into the company. The duration of this program is 6-12 months and interns can be converted to full-time employees based on their performance. The internship program is based on three Es: Education, Exposure and Experience. The program is built to provide meaningful work to enhance industry and NetApp knowledge; also provides a diversity of interaction through cross-functional engagements with senior leadership. We provide the interns an opportunity to plan by enrolling them in a 6-12-month long internship and giving them an opportunity for conversion to full-time employees after graduation.

In addition, we also conduct online hackathons and programming contests for the budding coders to sharpen their skills. The winners of these contests stand a chance to win an internship with the company.

Q: Can any student apply for your internship program? If yes, how? If not, how do you select your interns?

There are various criteria based on which we select interns. This includes partner colleges, and eligibility in terms of degree, branch and graduation percentage. We hire them after rounds of online tests and interviews.

Q: How do you motivate your team at Netapp? Over the years, what are the mantras that you have learned about motivating young engineers?

NetApp is an employee-first company; it’s our employees who bring the energy, passion, and mettle it takes to achieve our vision. Young engineers need a great place to work. We have currently 2000+ employees. Close to 70 percent of our workforce comprises of millennials and our campus is built to house facilities that they need and get motivated by. Our leadership plays a crucial role in employee motivation and leads by example. They are very approachable and take pride in mentoring young talent. We’ve been in India for about two decades and our employees work on pathbreaking technologies. Innovation is vital to us and all-round health of employees is important to prepare a fertile ground for disruptive ideas. We look at wellbeing holistically by providing flexible working hours. The NetApp Employee Assistance Program is an all-round wellness program available 365 days a year. We also have an on-site doctor and an ergonomist here. Our Bangalore campus has varied opportunities for recreation and comfort for all our employees. The 15-acre campus has ample free lung-space that has been earmarked for the eco-pond, green spaces, a jogging track, and a sports ground. Over 70 percent of the land coverage is the landscaped lawns, which are key to the aesthetic appeal of the building. Inside the building, the sports amenities extend to two indoor badminton courts, a fully equipped gymnasium, with facilities for yoga and aerobics. Foosball and table tennis vie for attention with x-box, chess, and carom in team areas.

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