Allies in the Crusade to Create More Entry-Level Software Jobs
It's always great to meet with kindred spirits, and today was a great connection. My lunch today with Toto Vo, Dan Blaisdell and Jason Bakke gives me great hope that we are moving forward with our promise of creating more entry-level opportunity in the tech spec.
As the technical heads of Postano and Manifest Web Design, we all commiserated on historic attempts to get technical internships right, and the wrong turns we've taken along the way. Isolation of junior talent and mismatching skills to responsibilities are pitfalls that many people have run into - it is the unfortunate standard within the industry that means that everything is harder than it needs to be.
20 apprenticeships have been completed of our eventual 96 total and, with every iteration, we find better ways. The validation seen across the table today was very exciting and it means that there will soon be more entry-level positions available at other companies here in Portland. You can read about it in detail here, but as a breakout summary here are the differences:
- Apprentices are drawn out of vocational programming schools. Carving out the time to attend a code schools for 3 to 4 months and spending $3K to $5K of someone's own money shows commitment to the industry and grit. This is precisely what will propel people to exceed in their career.Apprenticeships focus on QA. Starting a software career in QA means early exposure to ticketing systems (Jira, Redmine, etc) and focuses people on finding and describing bugs, which leads to better software thinking.
- Apprentices are embedded on teams. They are not isolated, and as such benefit from the experience of the teams they are a part of. They also benefit from the experience of veteran developers along the way.
- Apprenticeships are finite. Our model calls for a 4 month stint, which gets early programmers past the catch-22 that exists in the industry: you need job experience to get a job.
- Apprentices are paid minimum wage. Aside from the obvious financial incentive this provides to encourage more companies to participate, this means even at individual companies, more opportunities can be offered. It also means that the bar for performance from apprenticeships can be low - and it should be low. No one working in software today is proud of code they wrote in the first 8 months of their professional experience, because if they are, they haven't learned much since then.
I am very excited to see the new opportunities that come from this meeting. Business is continuing to coalesce around this model that can provide an onramp into amazing careers, and simultaneously save the industry from itself.