Due to COVID, we pushed the start of our summer apprenticeship back about three weeks, so we could feel good about starting in person on June 15. So this week has been bam, bam, bam.

Bam. Starting back in the office after 13 weeks of working remotely. (“What IS that weird smell that developed while we were gone??”)

Bam. Three fresh new projects kicking off within two weeks.

Bam. Seven apprentices showing up on Monday morning, ready for a few days of training and a summer of intense, hands-on learning.

Here’s what the apprentices have been up to this week:

Monday, 9 am: Introductions, Team Meetings, & Equipment

The apprentices showed up at 9 am sharp. We introduced them to their teams, to each other, and teams chose their summer names.

Due to knowledge gleamed from a Disney U book, we’ve always done our best to present a “good show,” so we make sure to have desks and monitors set up, with those beautiful iMac Pro boxes on top, all ready for new apprentices. Ideally, we have a t-shirt at their desk, too.

Our apprentices took a bit of time to start the computer set-up process and meet briefly with their teams before jumping into training.


PRO TIP: Make sure to leave time to show new interns/employees around the office, but not just the expected parts (ie, this is the lunch room, here is the bathroom, blah, blah). Add in the things they REALLY need to know. “All the QA people tend to sit at this table during lunch.” “Here’s the fridge where you can keep your lunch. It seems like most team members bring their lunch 4 days a week and grab lunch out on Fridays.”

Monday, 10 am: Vision / Values

We always find it worth our time to spend a few hours talking about who EduSource is and why we do what we do. This is important for two reasons:

1. It gives context. Making sure apprentices understand our “why” gives them context for everything we do. EduSource is committed to making a difference … and we do. But sometimes, on a day-to-day level, it might be easy to miss. We want to make sure our apprentices know to look for the big picture.

2. It builds buy-in. This generation especially wants to make a difference in the world. They will COMMIT to a company if they believe the company is having an impact. Why miss any opportunity to get students to buy in to what we’re doing?

Monday, noon and after: Team Building

One thing we always try to take time for is team building. We spent Monday afternoon learning about each other and playing games.

EduSource has a long-standing tradition called the “Hot Seat,” in which new employees take turns answering questions about him/herself. Co-workers ask about things like their favorite restaurants and how many siblings they have. Our favorite from this session? “Pudding or Legos?” (The answer, “Well, I guess Legos?”)

After Hot Seat, we broke up into groups to play strategy games and some round robin ping-pong. It was a good afternoon with a lot of laughter.

PRO TIP: Make sure to build in time for team building. The few hours you spent on it will pay off in spades when strangers feel more like friends throughout the summer.

Tuesday, 8:30 am: Daily Standup

EduSource starts each morning with a Daily Layered Accountability meeting (or DLA). Apprentices joined their new teams for their morning meetings on Tuesday, and we took a bit of extra time to explain the metrics we measure daily.

After their morning DLA meetings, the apprentices settled into a day of training. Wednesday would start their first day of true custom software development.


Tuesday, 9 am: Kanban Simulation

Tuesday included an overview of Agile Kanban, which led into an in-depth Kanban simulation. We’ve used the Get Kanban simulation board game for four years now, and we really enjoy watching our students work through the different scenarios. I strongly recommend it, if you are an organization that relies on Kanban.

This year, we pitted our two teams against each other, with the team that added the most new subscribers to our phantom SaaS company winning the day. We handed out candy bars to the winning team.

Of course, we debriefed after the simulation, talking about what the students learned. They really GET IT after this simulation. Here are a few things they said:

  • “You don’t want anything sitting in a done column. That’s just waste.”
  • “Our cycle time is still too high.”
  • “Our metrics are BAD. We need to change things.”
  • “Last minute things really stall everything else.”

Tuesday afternoon: Tiered Application Model

By Tuesday afternoon, our apprentices were looking overwhelmed. But we powered through with one more hour of an overview of our Tiered Application Model.

Here’s what we’ve learned over 8 years of doing this: too much heavy tech instruction up-front will go in one ear and out the other. Though we have a lot more to explain, we space other lessons out over the next few weeks, with an hour here and there. We find that training works best when we iterate on it, with students learning just enough to get started, then working on real user stories, then pulling them back to explain more, then releasing them to more user story development, etc.

PRO TIP: Don’t teach everything upfront. Only teach what students absolutely need to know to get started. Spread the rest of the teaching over several weeks.

On Wednesday, our apprentices were assigned stories and got started. We celebrated when one apprentice finished TWO stories in her first day, which might be a new record.

Bring on SUMMER!