MOBI Wireless: Training & Mentorship
MOBI Wireless needed to hire additional engineers. MOBI had always looked to build developers from the ground up as much as possible, with their hiring focus being on culture fit first and these new hires would be no exception. They began the groundwork for the process by developing an internal apprenticeship program to take people with little to no experience and turn them into productive junior developers over a brief time frame.
Thanks to MOBI’s strong support of the local Ruby community, attracting folks who fit and who were looking for their first professional development job was no problem. After MOBI quickly hired a class of five soon-to-be developers for the apprenticeship program, they brought Fretless on as the training partner for the program.
Fretless developed four teaching goals for the apprentices:
- Learn how to identify high quality code
- Learn how to create high quality code
- Understand how to refactor low quality code into higher quality code
- Know how to measure the quality of code
- The structure of the program was broken into three 1-month segments:
- Month 1: The “Greenfield Project”. The apprentices continued to build new skills from the ground up. During this time, Fretless introduced them to the tools and libraries that MOBI uses.
- Month 2: Focus on Legacy Code. At this time, MOBI had a troubled Rails app that had been made the year prior to this program. Fretless guided the apprentices through making the app functional, improving its quality and, finally, deploying it. This renewed code enabled MOBI to move forward more efficiently.
- Month 3: MOBI’s Primary Product and Codebase. Fretless helped the apprentices understand how the system was put together and began to work on fixing bugs and other low-hanging-fruit type tasks. At the end of the first two months the apprentices gave presentations to their teams. These presentations provided opportunities for them to engage with the development team at-large, receiving both feedback and praise, further helping them to grow in MOBI.
This type of apprenticeship offered advantages over the usual on-boarding of a first-time developer by making the action of on-boarding into a process. Through the apprenticeship, MOBI and each of the apprentices received the benefits of:
- Higher Quality Code: Apprentices graduated with set of convictions to guide the way they write code to ensure they deliver high quality, tested, maintainable code every time.
- Employee Retainment: Apprentices were able to on-board slowly in a safe environment, rather than being thrown directly into the deep end holding a brick of a code base. The apprenticeship could be seen more as walking into the shallow end with an expert and flotation device in hand.
- Productivity in Training: With a dedicated senior developer and trainer focused primarily on them, the apprentices were able to grow into a productive state more quickly than if they’d been left to fend for themselves.
This apprenticeship program helped the apprentices grow quickly to become good citizens and great coders. Through this program, they were given knowledge that enabled them to contribute productively to MOBI’s code base without the costly technical debt coders often get themselves into when being thrown right in. Instead of a traditional on-boarding process, MOBI Wireless was able to create opportunity for these beginning coders and made them into the employees MOBI was looking for.