Bringing More Magic to the Software Apprenticeship Program
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Aaron Bridges, Abby Miles and Toto Vo. We sat at lunch to talk about something that all four of us are passionate about: creating jobs in the tech industry.
After a great conversation around our attempts both successful and otherwise in getting people started in our industry, we talking about getting OpenSesame onboard with the tech apprenticeship model that Metal Toad, Postano and Manifest Web Design have signed onto. The program is supported by both Worksystems, Inc. and the Technology Association of Oregon and here's an outline:
- 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.
We're currently waiting to hear if we'll be getting funding from the State of Oregon to kick our program into high gear, but with or without that we're still looking for more partners so we can continue to provide entry level opportunities to as many people as we can.