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Doug Bradbury

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Nov 10, 2012, 7:08:30 PM11/10/12
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Hello,

At SCNA 2012 today, we held a side-session about how to start apprenticeships inside of our companies.  I shared some of what we've done at 8th Light, and many people expressed an interested in an ongoing conversation on the topic.  So perhaps we could start out with everyone posting about their current efforts.  Where are you in this processes?

Have you recently been convinced that an apprenticeship program is a good idea?
Have you identified some mentors?
Do you have some candidates?
Have you mentored someone in the past?

What's your biggest obstacle to getting started?
What have you tried already?

I'm looking forward to our conversation!

Doug

Simone

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Nov 10, 2012, 7:42:22 PM11/10/12
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Hi Doug, interesting topic.
  • I've never really thought about an apprenticeship program as I always believed it to be something that should happen naturally when people work together, either in the same team or anyway in close collaboration. In my experience I discovered that in most cases this unfortunately does not happen. When this happens it's mainly thanks to experienced individuals willing to share their knowledge, which does not happen often enough. I am not sure an apprenticeship program is a good idea, I would say that it depends. As I mentioned I think it is mainly a human factor, so in order to be able to set up something like that you will need the right people, and in that case it would probably be very effective.
  • I have frequently identified people which could have been good mentors given their understanding and thorough knowledge, but rarely they were willing to spend some of their time sitting next to someone else and mentor them
  • Yes, the most experienced people are mostly good candidates for mentoring, juniors would always have something to learn from them
  • Not formally, but I always try to share what I know with the people I work with
I'm currently in a position where I would, and supposed to, be able to mentor other people. Unfortunately the position comes with its own set of responsibilities which steal most of the time I could spend mentoring. A formal plan here would probably help, then. 
In general however I try to set up code reviews or help out whenever there are design decisions to take, and in those circumstances I also try to expand the conversation by pointing my peers to online resources or books, discuss how certain things might have been done in a different way or simply share how I solved a similar problem in the past.

Simone 

Carlos Peix

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Nov 10, 2012, 7:59:31 PM11/10/12
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Hi Doug,

I'll mentor a employee of a company where I do coaching (in Argentina) so, I don't cowork with him, we will meet weekly so I can check his progress.

I'm building now a list of skills that we should focus on for, at least, a year.

Do you know about a guide so I don't start from scratch?

Thanks
-cp

Steven Katra

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Nov 11, 2012, 9:14:52 AM11/11/12
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Hi Doug,

I have been convinced that an apprenticeship program is a good idea and I'm quiet excited to start mentoring people.  I think the idea of growing people is much more exciting then just finding them.  I know that in any company there needs to be a mix of both until the apprenticeship program matures and that's ok.

I can think of several people that would be willing to give 30-45 minutes a day to help mentor someone.  It's actually a strange questions because everyone on my team already spends that much time daily helping others... so it seems like a natural extension of what we are already doing.

We don't currently have candidates (but I'm sure we would be able to find them from IIT and UIC)... any thoughts on how to find people in the industry that are interested in this type of program?

I have mentored people in other aspects of life before but never development.  I'm excited to see how it compares and contrasts.

The biggest obstacle  to starting would be setting up the program and finding the right people to apprentice.

I'll keep updating to this group as we make progress or if we decide not to go down this route (which I hope isn't the case)

--Steve

Doug Bradbury

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Nov 12, 2012, 8:42:02 PM11/12/12
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Hi Steve, Welcome to the group!

On finding candidates:  Most of our leads come off of our website, but before we had that kind of traffic, I hit up the usual suspects.  I posted on University job boards, attended job fairs, and spoke at campus student groups (ACM, IEEE, etc.)

I think that community colleges are an overlooked source of potential apprentices as well.  We began a small effort to reach out to local campuses a while ago, but didn't put enough effort into it to make it happen.

Anyone else have suggestions for Steve?

Doug

Doug Bradbury

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Nov 12, 2012, 8:46:10 PM11/12/12
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Hi Carlos,

Here is the current 8th Light apprenticeship checklist.  You are welcome to use it as a starting point.  Perhaps other can share their list as they develop them as well.

Remember, much of this list is about what we need for our specific business.  Yours may look very different.  Think about what it takes to be successful in your organization.

Also on this handout is a sample reading list and a sample 3 month apprenticeship schedule.

Doug
agile 2012 mentorship.pdf

Doug Bradbury

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Nov 12, 2012, 8:49:46 PM11/12/12
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Hi Simone.  Thanks for joining us.

I understand you tendency to not want to put a lot of structure around apprenticeship. We operated this way for many years. It was when we wanted very capable craftsmen to start mentoring others that we developed some more structure. This helped to make mentorship accessible to those who had a desire, but didn't quite know how to start.

I'm hoping now that though this list we can help each other do the same thing on a wider scale.

Doug

Doug Bradbury

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Nov 12, 2012, 8:52:35 PM11/12/12
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Ah!  I posted the wrong thing.  What you have are my slide from a presentation at the agile conference.  Enjoy those as well.

Here is the checklist.
Doug
handout.pdf

Patrick Wilson-Welsh

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Nov 13, 2012, 11:31:44 AM11/13/12
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Hi All:

Thank you again, Doug, and Dave, for your willingness to meta-mentor us, and share your hard-won wisdom. I look forward to our collective learning, and for the opportunity to pay you back for your generosity. :)

I have another question: how would folks feel about a common, completely open and rights-unrestricted Github repo for the learning lessons and Kata that any of us is willing to share as examples? I understand that 8th light and likely all of us will have "official" internal curricula/examples that we wish to keep private, but I am, for example, willing to share some things, and collectively classify their application and usefulness.

What do folks think?

Cheers,

--Patrick

November 12, 2012 8:52 PM
Ah!  I posted the wrong thing.  What you have are my slide from a presentation at the agile conference.  Enjoy those as well.

Here is the checklist.
Doug

On Monday, November 12, 2012 7:46:11 PM UTC-6, Doug Bradbury wrote:
--
 
 
November 12, 2012 8:46 PM
Hi Carlos,

Here is the current 8th Light apprenticeship checklist.  You are welcome to use it as a starting point.  Perhaps other can share their list as they develop them as well.

Remember, much of this list is about what we need for our specific business.  Yours may look very different.  Think about what it takes to be successful in your organization.

Also on this handout is a sample reading list and a sample 3 month apprenticeship schedule.

Doug

On Saturday, November 10, 2012 6:59:32 PM UTC-6, Carlos Peix wrote:
--
 
 

Ken Auer

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Nov 13, 2012, 10:57:57 PM11/13/12
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Thanks for the input.

I think there are MANY ways to apprentice/mentor.  I've done them both formally and informally, using canned projects and projects that were opportunistic.

Lately, I've found that a "practicum" of sorts is working very well.  I've got a bunch of "modules" that I've combined in a variety of ways.  We are now talking about providing multiple paths into and out of our Craftsmanship Academy with 4, 6, or 8 week immersions depending on a variety of factors.  The two paths in are basically:

- A company paying us to train up internal people in basic craftsmanship skills for web and mobile development
- An individual paying us (or us providing a scholarship in some cases) for those who want to become Craftsman...

The latter will have more follow-up mentorship after the initial immersions.

I'll be happy to post more about it, but, quite frankly, my current notes consist of things slightly less readable and a little more terse than Doug's checklist.  I have a lot of videos recorded of most of the sessions during our inaugural summer Academy, some of which are slightly edited.  I haven't gone over them in detail.  Someone might be able to index it and formalize it more, but no one here is assigned to do it yet.  I expect that by the end of 2013, we'll have it more formalized and semi-publishable.  Not sure how much we'll publish or not, but I'll definitely share a bit more on this kind of forum as to what we have done, are doing, and the results.

By the way, I am THRILLED with the results from our summer academy, not from a financial perspective, but from a well-prepared-apprentice-out-the-back-end perspective.  So much so, that I am thinking about insisting that just about everyone who comes to work here goes through at least part of the immersion practicum.  The results are so much better than any informal apprenticeship that I've ever done, that I don't think I'm ever going back to the old informal method at RoleModel... and the old informal method was also very effective.

Ken

--
 
 



--
Ken Auer
Software Craftsman
RoleModel Software              919-557-7550 (v)
6720 RoleModel Way            626-544-2015 (f)
Holly Springs, NC 27540       919-622-8315 (m)

    "Christianity is not a plug-in, it's an operating system" (see Mark 12:28-31)

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Craig Ambrose

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Jan 16, 2013, 6:21:49 PM1/16/13
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Hi Everyone,

(apologies if this is received twice, having trouble posting)

Thanks Doug for starting this forum, it's a really handy resource for those of us not plugged into events like SCNA.

I'm from Enspiral (www.enspiral.com), and our case is an interesting one. We're a small software development team embedded within a multi-disciplinary network of people and companies interested in social change work and social entrepreneurship. This is relevant because a lot of our culture comes from that larger group. We're strong on diversity, communication, non-hierarchical decision making, happiness and many other important things, and correspondingly have been a bit weak on structured skills development, supervision and quality assurance.

We're changing to a model where we have a skills hierarchy, without necessarily having a power hierarchy in other areas of the business. This certainly includes apprentices and mentoring, but at the moment we've added significantly more "gamification" than just that, and it's been received really positively by all the developers. Details of our system are in a google doc here: http://tinyurl.com/bgphrmt

It sounds like our vision for apprentices is a bit different to what 8th Light is doing. We're interested in figuring out what it would take to do apprenticeship as an alternative to a university degree. That is, we wish to take 18 year olds fresh out of high school and turn them into programmers within three or four years. We're not currently doing this, although we do have some interns who are testing the waters.

Based on our system of levels (see that doc), we currently have an Apprentice-3, about 5 Journeyer-2s, a Journeyer-3, a Master-1 (myself) and a Master-3 who is mentoring me. We don't have the systems in place yet to take on more junior apprentices.

We started this system a couple of months ago, but since not much happens over the new year, it's still very early days.

regards,

Craig Ambrose
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