Team, Community

2021 Developer Apprentice Program Wrap

Congratulations to our recent Apprentice Program graduates Rachel Kahtan, Bilal Hankins, and Mary Dick! All three are beginning their careers in software development with expanded skill sets, knowledge and confidence in their abilities.

We are proud to announce that upon completion of the program, we have onboarded Rachel Kahtan and Bilal Hankins as full time junior developers here at SmartLogic and Mary Dick secured a new position as a software engineer at DriverReach.

Here’s what our graduates have to say about their time in the program.

Rachel Kahtan

I learned so much about practical debugging and environment setup - key skills for how to work on a project in the wild outside of bootcamp or classes. Being able to jump right in on a project that included both a language I had learned (JavaScript) and one I hadn't (Ruby) was a great learning opportunity; I learned both the new skills themselves as well as how to teach myself (with support and guidance from the mentors) while on the job.

The impact of the apprenticeship on my career has been huge. SmartLogic gave me my first opportunity to work as a developer, which has translated into a permanent position with them that I started at the end of the apprenticeship. My skills as a developer have grown a lot - with the mentorship offered I was able to better bridge the gap between the practical skills I learned in bootcamp and their real-world application, where development environments and projects are not as simple as, say, a React single page application you make in class. I've learned more about how to learn - picking up a new language, for example - and continue to use and develop those skills today. I've learned so much about the whole ecosystem of development, from planning to teamwork to coding itself, that has deepened my understanding of what I learned in bootcamp and has set me up for a successful career.

Bilal Hankins

During the Apprentice Program, I learned Ruby on Rails and ElasticSearch without prior experience. I also learned how to create user stories with acceptance criteria, tests for new features, QA Smoke testing features, how to convert a JavaScript front-end to TypeScript and how to debug efficiently.

The apprentice program allowed me to create a career into the software industry at a pace that was ideal for me. I learned so much about the business side of the industry as well as gained new technical skills along the way. Most of all everyone on the team here gave me the confidence in my ability to be a valuable contributing member of the team.

Mary Dick

I really enjoyed all of the pairing opportunities that were available to me. Working alone definitely has its benefits but I tend to feel more invested when I'm working with someone else. I had never worked with TypeScript before and now I feel pretty comfortable with it. It was really gratifying to get positive feedback from the client during weekly meetings, and to be consistently pushing code that I was happy with.

One of the biggest ways I've grown since the beginning of the apprenticeship program is in confidence. Yes, my skills have grown quite a bit as well, but I think the key to my future success is trusting in my ability to learn and adapt to new situations, regardless of my current skill level. Because I was trusted by others to navigate my way through new situations, I was able to see my own abilities and adaptability in a new light.

Prior to the apprenticeship, I felt that I "wasn't ready" for even a junior developer role, mostly because of the knowledge gap between graduating from a bootcamp and actually working as a developer. Now I can see that, while there still is a bit of a knowledge gap, I am capable of overcoming it.

A Stronger Team

We provide this program to widen the pool of potential engineers. Developing the junior engineer pool strengthens our industry and our community. We have one pre-requisite for the program: know a programming language. From this starting point, we empower the apprentices to learn any programming language, by teaching them how to learn.

In addition to strengthening our team with new talent, the program also provides an opportunity for our senior developers to become mentors. They learn important leadership skills such as delegation and training through teaching 1:1’s and paired programming.

Overall, both students and mentors have learned the value of a team environment, and how trust, mentorship, and support create an ideal team dynamic, no matter where they work in the future.

In a recent op-ed in the Baltimore Business Journal, our apprentices say “We have found at SmartLogic an ideal mix of training, experience, growth, inclusivity, fair compensation, and personal respect. Our careers are on the right path.”

This blog post is the third and final installment in our Fall 2021 Developer Apprentice series. Read our previous posts here:

If you want to stay tuned for future Apprentice Programs here at SmartLogic, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our Quarterly Newsletter.

Photo Credit: Chris Lee

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