7digital Technical Academy – Week #2Posted by Paul Shannon on October 4th, 2012 – Be the first to comment
On joining 7digital a year ago I published a short blog on my first fortnight with the new team. Now that our Technical Academy has been running for 2 weeks I’ve asked our 2 apprentices, Chris and Dan, to write a quick blog post about their experience so far. This is our first point in a series of regular feedback opportunities from our apprentices so we’re hoping to tailor the rest of their time here based on their positive and negative experiences so far.
The 7digital Apprentice Developers
Chris posted his “My First Fortnight” post on his personal blog: http://c24w.github.com/blog/2012/09/7digital-Technical-Academy-My-First-Fortnight/
Dan opted to post on the 7digital developers’ blog and his post is here: http://blogs.7digital.com/dev/2012/10/04/my-first-fortn…hnical-academy/
More on the Technical Academy
In early 2012 we were in a position to expand the development team but found that experienced developers, and especially those experienced in TDD, Agile, Lean and XP, were difficult to find. We also found that we were speaking to an increasing number of graduates and under-graduates when publicising the development team at various events, but often noticed a gap between the skills they were learning at University and the skills we’d like them to have. There has been some coverage around this topic recently with opinions from well known UK Software Craftsman Jason Gorman and mainstream media coverage from The Independent and The Next Web.
We decided to attempt to satisfy this need to train inexperienced new starters with a defined programme of classroom based sessions mixed in with the usual “on the job” training. You can see what we originally proposed to teach our new apprentices on the Technical Academy Jobs page although we’ve changed what we are doing based on feedback from teams. We like to continually improve our teams by inspecting and adapting all the practices we adopt and the Technical Academy is no different. This means we’ve added additional sessions on topics we thought we may not need to cover until later, but noticed that the apprentices had been involved in during their day to day work. Our emphasis is still very much on ensuring that apprentices can add business value right from the beginning so being able to adapt in this way ensures they do not slow down development in their respective teams. More on that in a later post.
In addition to the ability to hire less experienced programmers the academy also allows us to hire more diverse people. A good example is our current apprentice Dan, who studied Physics and Systems Biology, which brings a different view point on some of the practices we use, our product vision and the way we approach analytical tasks.