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Written by Alan Fahey

In my new role as CoOp Learning Coordinator in 2015, I started to receive a lot of external requests from “Irish Mammies” looking for Transition Year (TY) placements at SAP for their sons. Funnily, there were was a complete absence of requests from “Irish Dads” for their daughters. Given that we’ve never had a structured TY program at SAP Ireland, and knowing the hassle of trying to entertain 16-year-olds for 1 week, I usually just politely turned these requests down with some excuses about our focus on Universities and College interns.

When the request from an internal colleague and “Irish Mammy” Siobhan Evans, STM in GSC Ireland, came to me, we realized that something more structured and more effective was needed given that a lot of our colleagues now have kids approaching their mid-teens and in need of high quality work experience in the IT sector.

A one week curriculum was born

Just before Christmas 2015, I reached out to the Dublin based colleagues and asked them to help put a 1 week curriculum together. I was overwhelmed with the response we received from the various LOBs. Local IT volunteered to spend 1 day setting up laptops and providing insights into hardware, P&I and GSS colleagues volunteered to provide 2 days of code training in Scratch, HTML and CSS. Debbie Merrigan from Specialisterne was delighted to be asked to run a “Lego League” day and various managers, sales guys and recruiters stepped up to provide 1 day of interview skills and CV preparation advice.

The format, content and volunteers needed to execute this week came together so easily. Being a pessimist by nature and an optimist though sheer force of will, I was worried and excited by this in equal measure. I need not have worried, I was surrounded by my gifted, interested and motivated colleagues.

Easily organized, delivered, modified and repeated!

We extended an invitation to all Dublin based colleagues to nominate students to participate during the 3rd week in February. We very quickly got 20 students, 8 girls, 12 boys enrolled and had a waiting list of another 8 students pending drop outs or cancellations. From Monday to Friday that week, we whizzed through a program of Hardware, Software, Operating Systems, Robotics and professional skills all delivered and received with great enthusiasm by the trainers and the TY students. It was extraordinary to see so many of our current batch of college interns get involved each day.

The week was a huge success and the feedback from participants, trainers and mentors has been very positive. There are some places we could improve and tweak things but for the most part we now have a proven model for TY event delivery that can be easily organized, delivered, modified and repeated. It’s been many years since I was a teenager and a few to go before I have teens in the house again, so trying to evaluate their satisfaction with the week was difficult for me; all teenagers look bored and disinterested to me, but their feedback about the week, its content, their peers and our colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive.

Another week planned before the end of the academic year

These TY events will help improve SAP Ireland’s brand awareness within schools, create some talent pipeline for our CoOp programs and give us, as employees, yet another benefit of working at SAP. My thanks to all the talented volunteers and colleagues that made my job as ringmaster for the week’s activities very easy. Keep an eye out for further invitations, as we hope to run another week like this before the end of this academic year.