Career Start 11x

I’m happy to announce Headspring’s new training and mentorship program, CareerStart. Investing in our team members’ careers benefits the individual, of course, but our culture of career growth and individual empowerment ultimately help our clients to achieve success as well. A little investment pays for itself many times over. Headspring’s inaugural CareerStart training program, for instance, prepares new software engineers for successful, lasting careers as Headspring consultants. I’m excited to be a part of it, as it fits perfectly with my own career growth here.

Training and Mentorship

The CareerStart program is a combination of intensive training and mentorship for people just starting their software engineering careers. Our new engineers have already proven themselves to be the best of the best in their recent school work and job experience, but in order to be effective consultants here they also need to know how we deliver successful solutions.

The program starts with a six-week training course covering a mix of technical and consultative topics, followed by close mentorship during the first weeks of their work on client projects. The training course we’ve created is a mix of lectures and challenging hands-on software development exercises, all contributing to the development of a representative web application from scratch.

Rather than focusing on specific technologies, which change as often as the seasons, we’re focusing on core skills that last and a deep understanding of how our current tools actually work, so that everyone will still be set up for success even as the specific tools inevitably change.

Meet the Team

After interviewing countless promising candidates from several universities, we narrowed the list down to an incredible roster. This group has diverse experiences and strengths, and they are eager to soak up the collective experience of their peers here:

Forrest Short, currently a sophomore, shows more promise than most full-time developers I’ve met over the years. He’s quick to absorb new information, quick to speak up when I’ve been unclear, and willing to work through a tough problem head-on.

The skills that Rayne Otterbein picked up during her previous career are going to make her invaluable as a consultant, and I see that already in the way she interacts with her peers when they are facing a tough hurdle. She also has a healthy suspicion of complexity. We had a working solution to a coding exercise, but she had a sense that there was a better way: “This works, but I don’t like it.” Her criticism of the solution led the whole group toward a much better alternative.

Navin Ratnayake’s prior experience with web development applies directly to the technical topics we’re covering. His questions can reveal a gap in my training materials, making the experience better for everyone.

Jeremy Jordan shows a great ability to absorb a lot of new technical information and then immediately apply it effectively to his own code. When assisting his peers, he offers useful guidance rather than canned answers, ensuring they can truly learn the material as well.

Shreedam Parikh’s insightful questions demonstrate that he’s not merely absorbing an instructor’s statements at face value, but looking deeper to how things really work and how related ideas may interact with each other.

Owning My Experience

As the lead for the CareerStart program, I’m enjoying the challenge. Ensuring the technical and career growth of our new hires dovetails perfectly with my own interests and with my own career growth. I find most for-pay “boot camp” training courses to be suspect, so I have a personal interest in demonstrating how a company with more noble motivations can successfully cultivate a new software developer’s career in a short amount of time. In short, I’ve been charged with teaching eager learners all the things I wish people were taught in college.

Headspring’s success rate comes from the collective experience of its talented pool of software engineers and project leaders. We’ve all learned lessons the hard way under previous employers. In our past jobs, we’ve all collected countless examples of what works and what doesn’t, and now that we’re all in one company we’re free to allow ourselves to succeed. It’s a shame, then, to think that someone has to have bad experiences in ineffective organizations just to learn those same lessons from scratch, over and over. We’d rather create new “Headspringers” than merely find them.

A driving mantra for Headspring team members is “Own Your Experience”. If you want to make an improvement in an area you feel passionate about, we don’t wait for an opportunity to be handed to us. Instead, we take ownership of making a difference. My own career growth here has largely come in the form of writing about effective software development, giving technical presentations both inside and outside of Headspring, and most importantly from ad-hoc peer mentoring. I’m passionate about effective software engineering and technical mentorship, so I’m owning my experience: taking the skills I hold most dear and applying them to provide the same kind of career opportunities for others.

 

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About the 11x Engineer

The 11x Engineer is a series of essays on exploring the benefits, challenges, and other considerations of working within a community of high-skilled, mission-driven people delivering business transformative software in short time frames (Headspring’s value-based delivery being an exemplar of this model). We call this approach to amplifying results 11x Engineering. Articles in this series are dedicated to the art of maximizing the value of your projects through passion, drive, talent, and humility.

 

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