We have high expectations for our design, technical, and execution abilities,
as do our clients.
Over the years, we've met potential team members
who we would like to work with
but would not make it through our normal interview process
where the expectation is to bill on client work on day one.
we created a full-time, paid apprentice position so that we could bring these
people onto our team and mentor them to the point where they could be promoted
to a full developer or designer.
We have worked with over 50 apprentices,
most of whom have been promoted to the designer or developer role at thoughtbot.
The majority of people who join us as an apprentice
leave a job where they are already working as a developer or designer.
It is a full-time position at thoughtbot and includes benefits.
We work hard to ensure that we only accept people
that we believe will be successful as an apprentice
and will be promoted to designer or developer.
Anyone can apply to apprentice at thoughtbot
by applying on our Jobs page.
Our interview process is the same for apprentices
and full designers and developers.
While an apprentice,
people work alongside thoughtbot designers and developers on client projects,
and are assigned a mentor who is their primary instructor.
We do not bill for apprentice time spent on client projects.
They may also work on special projects designed to give additional time and
training in the areas they most need.
We provide apprentices with a guide during onboarding that helps them get
comfortable and have the best apprenticeship possible.
Each month, they move to another mentor and different team. This rotation
enhances the learning process by exposing them to new projects and new people,
but also by allowing them to reapply what they've learned in a new context.
Most people are in an apprentice position for three months,
and we strive for that time frame.
At the conclusion of three months, if they are ready,
the apprentice is promoted to a designer or developer at thoughtbot.
If three months is not necessary,
the can also be promoted sooner.
some people need some additional time to complete their apprenticeship.
If we are confident they will be successful eventually, we continue,
setting expectations along the way.
Rarely, like any role at any company, people are not successful in the
position and we decide to part ways.
Apprentices are paid W-2 employees of thoughtbot.
It is a full position at thoughtbot that comes with a lower salary
but includes health insurance and other benefits.
Who is it for?
A person that possesses our desired character strengths, as also defined in
the playbook: good communicator, demonstrates initiative, motivated,
enthusiastic, focused, composed, curious, optimistic, displays grit, emotionally
intelligent, and able to feel gratitude.
In addition, a base level of technical experience in their relevant area, and
our assessment that they can likely achieve our expected skill level in 3
Web developers are promoted from an apprenticeship
when they are very comfortable
doing fully test-driven development along the way.
We find that well-qualified web developer apprentices will be:
- A web developer experienced in frameworks other than Rails, or
- An less-experienced developer who has built and deployed at least one Rails
app and are also practicing test-driven development, or
- A developer comfortable with Rails, but needing to improve on best-practices
like test-driven development or code quality.
Designers are promoted from an apprenticeship
when they are very comfortable
doing great product design and user experience,
creating great visual design,
then implementing their designs with HTML and CSS (Sass).
We find that well-qualified design apprentices will:
- Have a solid visual design foundation and have designed for the web,
but are not as comfortable implementing their own work in HTML and Sass, or
- Have a solid visual design foundation and are comfortable implementing your
own work in HTML and Sass, but do not have much experience designing products.
iOS developers are promoted from apprentice when they are comfortable building
and shipping iOS applications, in Swift, writing tests along the way.
We find that well-qualified iOS developer apprentices will have built and
shipped at least one iOS app in either Objective-C or Swift.
We've written blog posts and given a talk on our apprentice program.