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Lean Mind's School

By Carlos Blé Jurado

Since the very beginning, Lean Mind have been collaborating with local universities and high education institutions in the education of young developers. We take interns for a few months to help them learn coding practices and principles as well as soft skills. They are required to spend around three months in a company they choose in order to get their degree. This happens once or twice a year.

This season, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the education institutions were running out of partner companies for their students to start the internship and we have been asked to accept more and more students. Some of the ones we already had onboard recommended us to their colleagues and teachers.

Apart from this collaboration, we are also active members of the local agile community, often facilitating coding dojos and several other events for developers. Some friends enjoy spending part of their spare time with us, learning and deliberately practicing together. Because of COVID, the community has grown a lot. Some people were unemployed or just looking for a community of practice to level up their skills and asked us to join our apprenticeship program.

The apprenticeship program is a training program we have been running for almost two years now. We provide books, exercises and pet projects to our apprentices and they spend at least six months learning, guided by senior colleagues. Thanks to Cabildo de Tenerife, the apprentices taking part of the CEDeI program are paid during those months. We have been limited to two or three paid apprentices.

Now we have reached a point where we are 36 developers in our learning community. The amount of people coming from outside of Lean Mind is bigger than the size of our company in employees. The procedures and structure we used to have is no longer valid because there is no way we could work like before with such an big group. This is no longer an apprenticeship program, it’s now a school of developers.

Because of the lock down, everything happens online. Luckily, we worked from home before COVID anyway. Materials and async conversations happen on our Twist workspace (see the picture above), whilst pair and mob programming sessions take place on Zoom, some of them being recorded and uploaded to Youtube. There are book clubs going on where people read the same book and meet once a week to discuss chapters. Code katas where people practice on their own and also in pairs or with the mob. Shared online resources like training courses. There is an open source project for a charity we collaborate with called Huella Positiva. The project let apprentices experiment what it means to work on a real project with real stakeholders, team work and a full-stack approach. We plan to work on more open source for charities.

Apprentices are encouraged to work on their personal brand, creating their own website and blog, as well as their github account, checking in code they could show later to employers.

Part of the reason the group is so cohesive and enthusiastic is because the people who have been more months learning with us, take on the role of mentors to the beginners. Also because my team mates take part in the community, leading training sessions and answering questions. There is no way I could handle so many apprentices myself alone. The more you try to explain or teach others, the deeper is your own understanding on the subject. Teaching/mentoring is an important aspect of the learning path. We are creating a culture where people encourage each other to do their best and trust themselves, despite of feeling frustrated or overwhelmed sometimes. They are handling a lot of information regarding technology and languages that is new to them as well as practices, principles, techniques… Because there are so many resources to learn, we encourage colleagues to choose the subjects they like the most

We don’t have the capacity to hire all of them in the upcoming months but we’ll be happy to recommend them to our clients who are often looking for young talent. We are always looking for win-win situations where our apprentices win and our clients win too.

Some community members joined us because they want to work with us in the future but they lack the skills we look for in developers, such us the taste for clean code or solid tests. They have another job or they are currently unemployed or freelancing, taking the time to level up. Being part of the community is a great way to get to know each other. It’s the opportunity to see each other’s values and principles, our commitment and other strengths. It’s a way to get on the same page in order to become team mates.

Among all the catastrophe that COVID-19 brought to the world, we see this community growth as a gift for the future.

Published on 2020/06/01 by

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