In our old office we had a DIY air conditioning system which required us to remember to empty the water collector about every 15 minutes or we would flood the office. We flooded the office more than once, but none of us was able to come up with a solution to this very practical problem.
One afternoon, after yet another lunch break flood, I walked back to my desk and found Filippo, our new seventeen year old intern, fiddling with the air conditioner. I was rather alarmed and my first thought was “please don’t electrocute yourself” but as I watched I realised what he was doing: fixing the problem in a way none of us would have thought of. Filippo had gone home in the lunch break and gathered some windscreen wiper parts from an old car together with other random objects and made a pump that automatically emptied the water collector into the kitchen sink. No more flooded office! This was on his second day at work. Filippo fixed many more practical issues in the following weeks and we were all so amazed that we decided we just had to hire him! But he is 17 and still at school, so what could we do?
In the end we did hire him, and he is now our colleague. We decided that as a company it was our duty to help this talented person develop and learn, so we set out to find a way of fitting work and education together and changing the rigid school system in which he was feeling stuck and unmotivated. Here’s how we did it!
The Hiring Process
Filippo arrived in mondora as an intern and was supposed to stay for three weeks. The first thing we did was to offer him a paid summer job, which he gladly accepted. He was so happy that his parents had to force him to take his holiday at the sea, all he wanted to do was work with us. During the summer we started a dialogue with the family, in which we introduced the company and the reasons why we wanted to help Filippo. We explained how we try to create a positive impact in everything we do and how coaching a local, talented young student was part of this. The family was very happy and Filippo’s mother was particularly keen in getting her son out of the cellar where he has his “lab” and into the wider world: his evening time experiments could finally be of use to someone in a real work environment. We also mentioned how we would like to continue the work relationship after the summer and help Filippo with his studies at the same time.
Once both Filippo and the family were happy with our proposal it was time to talk to the school. This proved more difficult, as schools tend to be slow to change and innovate and anything new or out of the ordinary is generally viewed as a threat, or as an attempt to substitute the established educational model. However, once we had explained our intentions clearly the head teacher was very impressed and agreed to our proposal. Filippo now works in mondora two hours a week and he can decide when to work according to his school schedule. He receives a basic wage and a bonus, which depends on how well he is doing in school: in this way we make sure we are not distracting him from his studies and emphasizing that his education comes first.
Hiring University Students
We have applied the same idea to a few other colleagues too: Carlo and Daniele, for example, are studying at university. They work with us but can take time off whenever they need to study and sit exams. They also have a fixed wage and a bonus that varies according to how long they take to graduate: the sooner they sit their exams, the larger the bonus is.
Another colleague, Chiara, is working with us and studying music at a school in Milan at the same time and we are working on a contract of this kind for her too. We think it’s important to give this kind of opportunity to young workers and to help them find their path, experimenting with different subjects and approaches to work.
Through this innovative way of hiring young talents we hope to change the relationship between students, school and the workplace to a more inclusive approach. Schools and universities are institutions that are usually slow to respond to change and through this hiring programme we hope to tighten the gap between education and work and aid schools in being closer to modern work life demands. Here is what Filippo had to say the day he was hired:
Hello, I have just found a pleasant surprise in my inbox, from Lucia. Thank you, having the opportunity of being part of mondora has been a fantastic experience for me, a huge growth opportunity, both technical and personal, but especially it has enabled me to view student life from a different perspective, believing that something different is possible, in a parallel world in which things go in the right direction. To see written down the possibility of this kind of future was a huge boost of energy and motivation for me to do well and keep going. Thank you.