The Dev Degree Model | Dev Degree

Dev Degree:

The Model

The Dev Degree program provides students with a true work-integrated learning experience, dissolving the gap between classroom studies and on-the-job knowledge. This revolutionary model means students graduate with an accredited Bachelor of Computer Science degree, 4500+ hours of work experience, and 4000+ hours of academic experience, all within four years.

Shopify provides a high level of financial support to students in the Dev Degree program, by paying their tuition, vacation, and a competitive salary. To get this level of financial support, work experience, and academic experience all within four years is highly unique and valuable. What makes the program even more valuable is that students get university credits for the software development work they do on teams at Shopify. This is not typical of most work-integrated learning programs, and is a big reason why students choose Dev Degree.

The success of Dev Degree is evident in our student retention rate, which is currently 93%. This is dramatically higher than the retention rate in a regular university Computer Science program. Degree completion rates for Computer Science programs at Ontario universities range from 60% to 70%, on average. This data is available on the website for each university, as they are required to publish it by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

First Year

In the first year of the program, students are educated in the current high-demand tools, technologies, and practices in the tech industry, and are prepared to work on software development teams. The knowledge students gain is not just Shopify-specific — it applies throughout the industry, and goes far beyond most intern programs. Students begin the interview process to be placed on Shopify software development teams near the end of their first year in the program.

Second, Third, and Fourth Years

In the second, third, and fourth years of the program, students are placed with development teams for eight months at a time, including the summers. In total, students complete four placements during their time in Dev Degree, and receive 4500+ hours of hands-on work experience. On Shopify development teams, students are solving real problems and working on real software. They learn to think in a multi-disciplinary way, across the areas of software engineering, computer science, and entrepreneurship. Students gain knowledge that is in high demand in the tech industry, making them very marketable candidates for future employment, and giving them much deeper and broader experiences than they would get in a typical intern program.

On their teams at Shopify, students are solving problems that have never been seen before. Development teams tackle challenges involving massive scale, high availability, internationalization, and international currencies, to name just a few. These types of challenges are not part of the university curriculum — students can only get this experience in an industry setting. The entire Dev Degree program is carefully crafted to show students the connections between what they are learning in their university classes and what they are experiencing on their development teams at Shopify. This deepens the students' understanding of computer science, helping them become better developers.

Mentorship and Support

Students in the Dev Degree program receive an incredibly high level of support and mentorship, and benefit greatly from working with mentors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Each student is paired with two mentors. The Life@Shopify mentor is a trusted supporter, friend, and guide. They provide a listening ear and support the student’s mental and emotional well-being. This mentor is not measuring the student’s performance in any way, and is not involved in their work in the Dev Degree program. The second mentor is a technical mentor, and is a software developer on the team the student is placed with. The technical mentor guides the student on a daily basis, giving them direction, reviewing their work, offering feedback, and answering questions.

Students are also supported by the Shopify Computing Education team, which runs the Dev Degree program. The team has extensive experience in the tech industry in the areas of education, computer science, software development, video game development, gamification, teaching, coaching, and leadership, among many others. The team is passionately committed to seeing Dev Degree students succeed. We have a Student Life Producer who is dedicated to supporting the social and cultural experiences of students throughout the program, and running workshops and activities focused on personal growth and skills development. We also have a Work Placement Producer who curates student placements on development teams, monitors student progress, and facilitates the relationship between students and mentors. As well, Shopify has a team of coaches and human resources professionals that are available to all employees, including students in the Dev Degree program.

Salary, Tuition, Hours, and Credits

Students in the Dev Degree program receive a competitive intern salary for their work at Shopify, and they are paid on the same schedule as regular Shopify employees, at the middle and end of each month. The student’s salary begins in September when they first join the program. Shopify also pays the student’s tuition. The university invoices Shopify for the tuition, and Shopify pays the university directly so the student is never out of pocket.

Students work 25 hours per week at Shopify. This is paid work, part of their salary. Of these 25 hours, students spend 20 hours working with their development team and 5 hours on personal growth and development skills. Shopify is a company that encourages a growth mindset and personal development for all its employees, and this includes the students in the Dev Degree program. The university gives credits to students for their work done with Shopify development teams. Students get a half-credit per university term, with the exception of the summer term, as this is not part of the regular university calendar. Upon completion of their Computer Science degree, students will have earned four credits from their work at Shopify, out of the twenty credits needed for graduation.

Students write a practicum report at the end of every term (every four months) and submit the practicum report to the university. In the practicum, the student describes how they have achieved specific learning outcomes. The learning outcomes used in the Dev Degree program were influenced by standards from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society.

Since students are not placed on development teams in their first year of Dev Degree, they write two practicum reports, which are mapped to learning outcomes, and receive a half-credit for completing each report. The report discusses the intersections between classroom learning and knowledge gained from working on Shopify development teams, as well as a student’s understanding of software process, coding, deploying, and working with a large code base.

Application and Interview Process

One of the key tenets of the Dev Degree program is diversity — giving opportunity to qualified candidates regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, financial situation, physical ability, or any other dimension of diversity. Dev Degree employs a blind screening process where the candidate’s name and other identifying characteristics are hidden from application reviewers. Our goal is to remove bias from the screening process and ensure we pick the best candidates based on their skills and experiences.

Students must first apply to our partner university for their undergraduate Computer Science program. When they are accepted into the university program, they can then apply for Dev Degree. The Dev Degree application process opens in January, and closes in February. Interviews start in late March, and offers are made by early May.

Interviews at Shopify are conversations. We want candidates to feel comfortable so they can express themselves and their experiences authentically. The Dev Degree interview process has three parts:

  1. The life story interview is done with a Shopify recruiter. Students are asked to talk about themselves on a personal level, including their hobbies, interests, and life experiences.

  2. The problem-solving interview takes place with two Shopify software developers. Students are asked to discuss a project they’ve worked on previously, and to talk through a problem they are presented with during the interview. Prior programming experience is not required — we are looking to see a student’s cognitive processing ability and problem-solving skills.

  3. The team interview takes place with members of the Shopify Computing Education team, who lead the Dev Degree program. In this interview, students are walked through the details and expectations of the program, and are asked about past experiences and how they relate to Dev Degree.

Related Topics

Work-Integrated Learning

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