Engineering Apprenticeship at Hinge Health

January 27th, 2022  by  Amanda Gellhouse – Senior Engineering Manager

Finding your footing in the tech industry can be a challenge, particularly for people from non-traditional backgrounds. At Hinge Health we’ve seen the positive impact that diverse teams make on our organization. Because of our company value of learning, our enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, and our passion for fostering success in others, we created an apprenticeship program to improve diversity, support individuals new to tech, and allow us to become better mentors and coaches.

Our engineering apprenticeship is a six month program that supports engineers who work full time as they grow into a Software Engineer position. We recruit candidates from a variety of backgrounds, including those who graduated from boot camps or are self-taught, who show outstanding potential to learn more in their domain and who characterize our company values. We place these apprentices in teams where they can contribute to projects that power our products and company, and affect real people’s lives. We ensure they are mentored by strong software engineers and learn what it takes to be a professional engineer, from learning coding skills to working in an agile environment and collaborating in a team.

Here are a few of the key principles we emphasized in our apprentice program:

Equality

We treat apprentices like every other engineer on the team, from encouraging them to volunteer to run rituals like stand-up and retrospective, to speaking up when they see an area where our processes could be improved, to contributing valuable features and changes to our codebase. It is important to us that apprentices have an equal voice in the team and have opportunities to solve problems that are challenging but still achievable based on their skill level. There are no special projects or throwaway work.

Mentorship & Coaching

We provide our apprentices with close mentorship in the team and coaching from their manager to ensure they have the tools and support to be successful. They’re assigned a mentor within the team who meets with them weekly to support them in technical skill development and they’re given a learning and development budget to expense courses, books, and conferences. Additionally, they have free access to their teammates to ask questions, hold impromptu pairing sessions to work through tickets, and otherwise absorb institutional and technical knowledge. Their manager works with them throughout the apprenticeship to ensure they understand the milestones we expect them to hit and that they’re given the resources and support needed to succeed.

Clear Guidance

We believe that everyone benefits from a clear understanding of our expectations for the role they are in. We have a set of outcomes defined for an engineering apprentice, along with milestones we expect them to hit at various points of their program, and we check in regularly to help track progress. If there are areas to improve, then our apprentices know about them quickly and are coached to continue growing as engineers and teammates.

Shared Success

We aim for every apprenticeship to be a success, whether the apprentice is promoted to a full time engineering role at Hinge Health or moves onto another opportunity. We learn a wealth of information from our apprentices and the perspectives they bring, along with benefiting from their energy, skills, and enthusiasm. We want to create an environment that enables the apprentice to learn technical and soft skills that will benefit them going forward, in addition to establishing professional connections in the industry.

Our first cohort of apprentices impressed us and their teammates with their enthusiasm for our product and the work we do, their engagement in learning, and their rapidly expanding domain expertise and problem solving skills. We are all excited to launch the next round of this program and bring more incredible engineers into our company!

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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