SSI continues to grow and has found a way to grow its own talent through an innovative program. “The Software Development Apprenticeship Program at SSI gives us access to a broader pool of talent,” says Todd Erickson, VP of Development. New employees from outside the company as well as internal transfers complete the apprenticeship.
According to Erickson, the program makes it possible to hire people that may have come to software development in a non-traditional way. For example, participants include a self-described software hobbyist and another that possessed the formal education, but recent job experience took him to a different industry. SSI’s apprenticeship program provides a unique on-the-job training opportunity.
The apprenticeship program is customized for each person and lasts approximately 6months. The apprentice is paired with a mentor, a more senior developer that serves as a resource and guides the apprenticeship. “One unexpected benefit to SSI is that the mentors have also grown significantly by leading our apprentices,” says Erickson.
The initial stage focuses on independent learning projects tailored to the apprentice’s prior training and education. In the second stage, the apprentice learns how a development team works and joins a team tour becoming apart of multiple teams during sprint cycles. Completing the apprenticeship requires a month-long capstone project that captures the skills of the apprentice as they apply what they have learned on a larger project.
Since the start of the program in October 2017, 17 developers have completed the apprenticeship or are currently enrolled. “We have embraced test-driven development and clean code best practices. Apprenticeship prepares them [the employees] to help move our software forward as we move from a window-based software to browser-based software” says Erickson.