Israeli high tech cos looking for employees in universities

Students  picture: Tamar Matzapi

The competition means higher wages and better conditions for students working in high tech.

When Tatiana Hanimov, who is studying at Tel Aviv University for an MSc in electrical engineering and an MBA, was starting here studies, she looked for part-time work for students. Like many others, she preferred a job that was at least partly related to the subject she was studying. She went for many job interviews, but although she was a long way from finishing her degree, she had more of a problem choosing which job to take than being accepted to a job. "In the end, I got more yes answers than no answers," she says. "Even when they told me 'no,' it was justified, because I really wasn't ready for it."

As long as you are talking about computer science and engineering students, forget about the expression, "student paupers." When we went to see how high-tech companies go about hiring students, we discovered that the fact that they have no experience, are "half-baked," and limited in the resources they can give does not prevent them from being in demand. Once upon a time, students were paid much less than ordinary employees, but this gap has greatly narrowed over the years. Today, companies are fighting over students, and are willing to remunerate them accordingly. The main difference between them and ordinary employees is in how much they work. In many cases, the students are a reserve force backing up the existing team.

Israeli companies are considerate of efforts to combine studies with work, but only up to a certain point. Despite flexibility in the job and work hours they expect students to earn high marks, be prominent in their studies, and to achieve outstanding results. This is a very different attitude than that of super-entrepreneur Peter Thiel and other who followed in his footsteps, who are encouraging students to leave their universities and colleges in order to spend their time in high-tech entrepreneurship. When a women studying computer sciences wants to get a job at a company and succeed there, she had better be a really good student.

"I'm allowed to make more mistakes"

After working in quality assurance jobs at a number of companies, Hanimov has been working for the past year in a student job at Intel in her subject - hardware engineering. She says that the high-tech market is hungry for employees, and is competing for them on the campus. "A student working at a student job will earn an hourly wage two or three times the minimum wage, and I've heard about companies in which the hourly wage is even higher than that of full-time workers. The contracts are very seductive: women students don't get advanced training funds and four months of maternity leave in every field. I have friends working as waiters in order to pay for degrees in other subjects, and they certainly don't get this kind of treatment. With us, for example, there's a NIS 1,000 'quality of life' budget that you can spend on leisure. That's not something that can be taken for granted. I'm quite coddled, and as long as I have student status, they make allowances for me. I'm allowed to make more mistakes."

"Globes": How do you get such jobs?

Hanimov: "I'm in the outstanding student program at the university, and that means that you already go on to your second degree while you're still doing the first one. My advice is to try to be an outstanding student in your first years, and to make an impression when you're still a student. You have no experience, but you'll have to have something to impress employers with. Good marks show learning ability and functioning under pressure."

Oded Regev, an independent engineer who puts out a "Guide to a beginning high-techer" blog, believes that the companies winning out in the battle for the hearts of the students are the large ones, such as IBM and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), which can plan for the long term. "Employing students isn't always profitable. It takes time to train them. In effect, they are doing an internship when they come with no experience, and they need someone to answer their questions. Only companies with long-term thinking will take students, not to make a profit now, but because the students will be with them five years later. Startups, in my opinion, especially after financing rounds, have less patience. They might take a student for quality assurance testing. At a personal level, however, I very much believe in the power of students, and in every companies I was in, I exerted pressure to hire them. They're more productive than people think."

Alon Maor, however, cofounder and CEO of Qwilt, which is developing technologies for media streaming with short loading times, says that startups are also competing for students to work in part-time jobs. "Outstanding students at leading universities with experience at other student jobs or from the army have a high value. We have to make great efforts to reach students and recent graduates, usually by word of mouth and advertising in limited forums. A new employee is coming to us in four days who is doing a BSc in computer science and is in her last year. In addition to her, we have several other employees right now who still have student status, and employees who came to us as students now hold full-time positions."

How do you define a student job?

"A job that is suitable for a student's needs - in hours, days, and of course in knowledge and experience. Every student job is different in terms of projects and tasks, and is defined in advance by the employee and the team head. A student frequently helps in in an area where there is enough work, but not enough for a full-time position, or he or she supports another employee or a team, so that the workload is not excessive. It's usually a 60-80% position. Our students are employees in every sense of the word; they share in small benefits and participate in company activities, just like everyone else. We let them work either in the office or at home."

What about salary?

"It is based on the salary we would choose to pay them, were they full-time employees."

What happens with them when they finish their studes?

"The students who were with us before stayed. Some of them were promoted to new positions, and some of them were promoted to management. Our aim is for everyone who comes to us as a student to continue to full-time employment and remain for the longer term."

"Individual guidance in the real world"

Eyal Solomon, founder and CEO of high-tech placement company Ethosia, confirms that according to the figures, there is a growing hunger for employees in student jobs, and this is also reflected in salaries. At the request of "Globes," the company examined the salary being offered and compared it to the salary offered for similar job in a full-time position. The study carried out by Ethosia is based on an average of over 1,100 employees in student jobs for each job for a year, and an average of over 800 full-time employed graduates.

Solomon says, "In most cases, a student constitutes a personnel reserve, and enables enterprises to manage their workforce with special effectiveness in a market in which the proportion of those leaving their jobs voluntarily is 15% a year." He also notes that employees in the current market need more private time in any case, a need that various companies are answering, so that full-time employment is already not necessarily the standard.

How worthwhile is it to work as a student in high tech?

Solomon: "It is very worthwhile in the current market. You can see the high salaries and offers of promotion waiting for them at the end of their studies. In addition, students benefit from the opportunity to be tested and develop professionally during their studies, and can benefit from individual guidance in the real world, with technological tasks and challenges that match the market's needs. The market shortage enables them to bargain and get almost the same salary that they would receive as full-time employees - on an hourly basis, of course."

The difference between the salaries of students and ordinary employees

"Students are our most important recruitment source for full-time work, and competition for them is very stiff," says Intel Israel human resources director Judith Yampolsky. According to her, the idea is not to fill a part-time position. "We have hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students simultaneously, and the idea is for the student to already perform tasks related to what he or she will do later," she says. At the same time, it is important for the company to make sure that its gamble is as safe as possible. "We make sure that they continue to get good marks. If their studies are negatively affected, it will be hard for us to continue employing them, because we realize that employment is harming their future."

Do you usually ask to see their marks?

"Not formally, but we do check how they are doing. Sometimes they come and talk about the need to work less, and in such cases, we show flexibility and meet them halfway."

What about salary?

"It's competitive. As we see it, you can't compare the hourly wage of a full-time position to a part-time job; it's apples and oranges. A student gets paid for overtime differently than full-time employees. Nevertheless, the idea in a part-time student job is not to save money."

Would you say that the market has learned to be considerate of students?</i

"The more startups there are, the greater the competition for the same resource. In the startups I work in before, a student worked as much as he could, but they were less considerate of his or her being a student. I think that the situation today is far better for the students. In the high-tech professions, it's an employees' market - period.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 3, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Students  picture: Tamar Matzapi
Students picture: Tamar Matzapi
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