Our apprentices have now been here for a little over a full week. Here’s what they’ve been up to so far:
Team Building (Through an Immersive Experience)
What do we do on our apprentice’s very first day? We have them change into a t-shirt, take away their phones, and send them on an immersive experience. This accomplishes three goals:
- It builds teamwork. The apprentices participate in the teams they’ll be working with all summer – with one full-time employee (FTE) and two apprentices.
- It helps them to get to know the area they’re living in. Most of our apprentices aren’t Indiana natives, so we like to show them some local color.
- It’s fun and unexpected. The apprentices are expecting stuffy office work, but instead spend the first day walking, solving problems, and getting to know their co-workers.
This year, we took our teams to the Arts and Design District in Carmel. There are several full-bodied statues there. Students had to use a map to find the statues, answer questions about them, use the answers to find certain shops to enter, use the numbers provided by the shops to open a combination on a case, put together a puzzle from the case, and figure out (from the puzzle) where to meet for lunch. The weather cooperated beautifully, and it served to be a great introduction to the company and the physical area EduSource operates in. (Though the EduSource office address is technically Indianapolis, we’re right on the border. Last year, we took the apprentices downtown Indianapolis.)
Lots of Training
After the first half-day of being out and about, our apprentices spent a day and a half in training. Here’s what we included this year:
- EduSource story and Core Values. Founder Jason Beutler met with the team to talk about who we are and what we value. In our opinion, we can’t emphasize this enough. Our students need to understand how important these things are to us.
- Working at EduSource overview. We like to spend some time talking about the practical stuff, like what should team members usually do for lunch or what hours we expect the apprentices to work or what items are available for them to use in the kitchen. We do a quick flyover of these things in a pre-summer email, but it’s good to run over them again and let the apprentices ask questions.
- Equipment. We hand out equipment and have students sign releases. We give a brief “How to use your Mac” overview, in case Macs are new for any of them.
- Software. We spend plenty of time getting them onto software that they’ll be using, including office communication software, time tracking software, project management software, and everything they’ll need for the physical coding part of their jobs.
- Process. Our software team leaders take the apprentices through our ever-evolving software-writing process. We also spend plenty of time explaining our metric-based Daily Layered Accountability process. By the time they finish with this training session, their heads are spinning.
A Kanban Simulation
To help our students understand Kanban and how we use it at EduSource, this year, we had students play a Kanban simulation game. (You can buy the game or download a free version here.) We were really impressed with how well the game taught our students the basics of Kanban. For those of you who understand how it works, here are some quotes we heard during the game (from students who likely had never heard the word “Kanban” prior to this day):
- “Whoa, that’s not a good cycle time!”
- “Well, in Kanban you want to work right to left, so let’s concentrate on the testing.”
- “It’s better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly.”
- “Features depend on each other.”
We were really pleased with how this worked out. It was well worth the three hours the students spent on it.
At EduSource, everyone has a coach. For our apprentices, this is especially important. Apprentices meet weekly with their coach to talk about setting their summer goal and long-term career ambitions. For the first month or so, our coaches are also looking over their code and helping them understand how to fix common mistakes.
On one of our training days, the apprentices spent an hour getting to know their coaches.
One other thing we make sure to fit in the first week is a big company-wide picnic. The students love the opportunity to meet all the employees’ families. It’s just good to have everyone associated with EduSource in one place at one time. We rent out a pavilion at a local park, bring in food, and spend the evening throwing footballs, chatting, and playing cut-throat games of sand volleyball. During this time, we take advantage of the outdoor light to have the apprentices’ official EduSource photos taken.
Community is vital at EduSource, and we want our apprentices to feel like part of it. That means giving them time to play with our kids, talk to our spouses, and see us outside of the work environment. The picnic is a great way to end the official “apprentice training days.”
If you’re looking to up your internship game, visit this blog post to download our free e-booklet. Yep, there are really 100 ideas in there, some that we have used, some that we are currently using, and some that we hope to use in the future.