With the growth of digital across all industries, software development has emerged as a critical discipline.

A key challenge for enterprise companies can be attracting top software developer talent. This challenge is increased when you consider that enterprise technology architecture often includes a lot of legacy and less popular platforms.

As a result, companies are being forced to think differently about recruitment.

In September 2015, my team ran a university hackathon in partnership with Salesforce.com.

The goal for my company was to attract software developers, targeting individuals that were still in full time education. Our hope was to identify four developers and one scrum master, who would be awarded a one year student placement, but also the opportunity to return as a graduate.

The goal for Salesforce.com was to increase awareness of their development capabilities across UK universities, which have historically focused on partnerships with Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. This is especially important for Salesforce.com, which although has a rapidly growing eco-system, is not popular amongst developers (as highlighted by the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2017).

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The hackathon was a great success and in July 2016, Calum, Jules, Ben, Wilson and Lay (Scrum Master) joined the team.

Over the year, the scrum team (known internally as Cirrus Labs) have worked on a wide range of products, covering proof of concepts, as well as internal and external business applications. They have also been exposed to a wide range of technologies, including Force.com, Heroku, Contentful, Node, React, Postgres, Redis, as well as many developer tools such as GitHub, Cloudbees, Checkmarx, Snyk, Artifactory, etc.

In May 2017, the team were invited to share their story during the IT Keynote at the Salesforce.com World Tour in London. The keynote was attended by 1200 people, with upwards of 5000 people watching live online. The full keynote can be found below:

Overall, this “experiment” has been an incredible success story, unlocking a scalable talent pipeline for developers, as well as supporting the growth of software development and the Salesforce.com eco-system.

In July, the team will return to university for their final year. I’m confident the placement has provided them with a strong foundation for their future career and I certainly hope to work with each of them again in the future.