How to Succeed as an Engineering Apprentice

February 7th, 2022  by  Amanda Gellhouse – Senior Engineering Manager

Daniella Marks and Lucia Racine came from different backgrounds - Daniella used to work in clinical healthcare neurodiagnostic testing. Lucia majored in electrical engineering and then worked for a few different engineering firms. Eventually, they both found their way to Hinge Health and were accepted in our pilot of the Engineering Apprenticeship program which culminated in promotions as full-time software engineers. We sat down and spoke to them about their experiences in the program and how they found success.

Be passionate about the product, not just the work

Lucia was always interested in healthcare technology and biology. Therefore, when she saw one of our tech leads share a job post in a private Slack group, her curiosity was piqued. Whereas, Daniella was hoping to move out of clinical healthcare to focus on working with providers to deliver better digital healthcare solutions. She came across a blog post about one of our software engineers, and after learning more about the company she discovered our mission and product deeply resonated with her. As Daniella said: “[this was] something that I dreamt of existing and I got excited about the idea of working on it.”

Get comfortable asking all kinds of questions

There’s so much to learn when you start a new job, and when you couple that with starting in a new field, asking questions is a necessity. Both Daniella and Lucia emphasized how important it is to ask questions, even basic ones or overcoming the internal pressure to ask the *right* question.

Lucia summed it up perfectly, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good engineers ask both ‘bad’ and good questions. If someone tells you that you ask bad questions then give them a hard time!”

Learning takes time, mistakes are okay, and reflect on your growth

As an apprentice, this may be your first time working in a giant repository and contributing alongside dozens of other engineers. You might never have worked with Typescript or GraphQL. Additionally, using Jira comes with a learning curve, despite previous experience.

Scrum may also be a new process and attending a Retrospective resulting in meaningful change. Surely, there’s a lot to learn, from the technology to the tooling to our working processes.

Daniella said, “The most rewarding part of my experience here has been an explosive expansion of knowledge. I’m surprised by how much I learned and how much I still don’t know.” She recommends reflecting on how much you’ve grown since you started the program if you’re ever feeling discouraged.

Part and parcel of learning, means mistakes are guaranteed. We embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn and keep growing. Remember these three steps when mistakes occur:

  • Be transparent when they happen,
  • Work to fix the issue at hand,
  • Try to identify how to avoid the same situation in the future.

Make connections both within and outside your team

Both Lucia and Daniella emphasized how critical their team was to their success. Their mentors were supportive and always available to answer questions. Beyond that, their teams contributed to their success by:

  • Pairing with them on problems,
  • Modeling a healthy work-life balance, and
  • Providing further guidance on any blockers or issues that arose.

Daniella mentioned, “I feel eternally grateful for the opportunity to gain knowledge from such a qualified and diverse group of people.” Lucia recommends, “Stay in touch with people you meet from outside your team” as those connections could prove valuable in the future. You might meet someone who has similar professional goals, or perhaps their team is working in a slightly different way and you want to socialize it to yours, or maybe they’re just a supportive colleague.♦

Photo by Karl Pawlowicz on Unsplash.



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