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Last month we wrote about the Student Talks meetup, in which ambitious students spoke about how generation Y can change the world. One of those students was Marco van der Werf, co-founder of BIT Students, a group of forty outstanding IT students working for corporates and startups, making use of the latest technological developments. And with success.
How to keep up with technological changes
Student Marco van der Werf felt bored during his master Information Sciences. He says that the digital world is moving so fast that it is hard for universities to keep up. Van der Werf: “It takes time to update the curriculum, and therefore study materials are often outdated. IT changes so rapidly, that if you stop programming for one year, you are already very far behind.” To solve this problem, he created BIT (Bright IT) students, a group of highly ambitious IT students who are looking for that extra challenge.
BIT Students started one year ago, and today they are about 40 students, all of them working 20 to 30 hours a week. Their work consists mainly of building MVPs for startups and corporates. “Companies like to work with us, not only because we are relatively cheap, but also because we are young and full of new ideas”, says van der Werf. BIT Students have been working for clients such as Randstad, ABN AMRO, Marktplaats and Samsung. Moreover, twice a month they voluntarily work for charities, such as War Child.
Setting up a tent
Startups like to think big, but in the beginning, it can be useful to start small. Van der Werf explains: “Before building a villa, start with a tent. Sleep there a few nights, explore the area and see if you are comfortable in the place. If you are, you can start expanding.” BIT Students are there to set up this tent for you, usually in the form of an MVP. Their main purpose is to learn, they want to develop themselves: “We do not ask a lot of money, but if we fail to accomplish something, we tell it honestly. Perhaps that is also our strength.”
Future trends: AI and Smart Offices
Looking at technological innovation, what are we to expect in the future? Van der Werf predicts an increasing influence of Artificial Intelligence: “Only a year ago, no one talked about AI, now it is the topic of the day.” BIT Students also receives many questions about Smart Office solutions. “AI is complicated, and it is often hard to see how a corporate can make use of it. Smart Offices are relatively simple and easily accessible.”
BIT Students’ selection process
Students can sign up to become a BIT Student, but there is a strict selection process. The startup receives about thirty applications a month, out of which they select five students. Van der Werf: “Being a good programmer is not enough, we are looking for students who are keen to learn something new. We are looking for students willing to work on exactly those skills that they do not master yet.”
Proud of success
When he started BIT Students, van der Werf could not have imagined the current success: “It is fantastic that we created enough work to pay the salary of forty IT-students. All our students tell us the same thing: at BIT Students, they learn ten times as much as on the University. That we managed to become such a big group, that is amazing.”