Of the four pillars of custom e-learning development, programming is the one that tends to be most overlooked in organizations. With the proliferation of rapid development tools and off-the-shelf courseware, it seems like a full-time programmer with highly specialized skills isn’t really necessary. For us though, programmers are just as critical as instructional designers, visual designers, and creative writers. Not only do they build the engines that run our custom courseware, but they have a unique viewpoint and inject new creativity into the design and development process.
This summer, we partnered with an organization called Code Platoon, which is a coding camp that turns Veterans into software developers. As regular readers of this blog know, we put a lot of effort into our company culture and recruiting people with just the right mix of skills, background, and personality to be part of our team. As a Code Platoon partner, we would have the opportunity to host interns from the program and potentially make a full-time hire if there was a good fit. I sat down with one of our Senior Programmers, Brent Meyers, to talk about the Code Platoon experience.
How did NogginLabs get involved with Code Platoon?
Brent: NogginLabs’ Founder Brian knows the founder of the organization and was willing to participate in the inaugural class for Code Platoon. Code Platoon is basically a coding bootcamp, where students learn a programming language or stack in a short period of time. There are others out there, but Code Platoon is different in that all of the students are Veterans.
Was it a good fit for our company? Why?
Brent: It was a new and different experience for us. As a smaller company, we don't have interns or have the type of systems in place to utilize temporary employees. I think it was a good learning process for us as a company. It helped to really have us focus on the processes we have in place for training and mentoring developers when they are hired.
How many interns did we get?
Brent: We had two interns, though the original goal of the organization was to pair each intern with a sponsor company. This was the first class so they were short on sponsors. After the interviews we were willing to make an internship offer to two of the students.
What did the interns do here?
Brent: The interns were introduced to what we do here in every aspect. They went to meetings, learned how we build courses, and were involved in some of our internal projects, like the Project Management tool.
What was your role?
Brent: I was a mentor to one of the students during the program, and then Emma (another of our Senior Software Developers) and I worked together with the two interns to introduce them to the different aspects of what NogginLabs does.
How did you feel about the program and mentoring the interns?
Brent: It was a bigger commitment than it seems. I met with the student for at least an hour every week for the 16 week course, and it was part technical, part career guidance. I am a Veteran myself, so I feel like it was easier to develop a rapport with my mentee and some of the other students.
Would you want to participate again in the future?
Brent: I think a lot of it would depend on our needs at NogginLabs. We had a hope that at the end of the program we would find a person we could bring on to be a full-time employee. We found that, so it ended up being a great experience. It was a good learning experience for the existing team too, but having an intern can be a big drain on productivity for existing team members who have to take the time to train and mentor them.
Anything else you want to add?
Brent: Overall I think it was a benefit to our company to have been part of the program, both because we have a new developer on the team, and because of the insights the experience has brought to our team.
Our new hire from Code Platoon is fully on board and busy beginning her career as a Noggin. Next week, I’ll interview her about her experience with Code Platoon, being an intern, and her early impressions of all things NogginLabs.