By Danielle Tyler
Revelry Software Engineer
When I was first searching for entry-level software development jobs, the term “apprentice” was not a part of my keyword search. However, after a three-month apprenticeship at New Orleans-based Revelry, that simple keyword addition is one of the first things I recommend to any entry-level job seeker who crosses my path.
In the simplest of terms, an apprenticeship is an opportunity to learn a trade on the job. Revelry’s apprenticeship program, specifically, teaches real-world software development skills; it’s been around for about a decade and consistently produces experienced, capable, confident product managers, designers, and engineers who either go on to work for other cool companies, or choose to grow their careers with Revelry. (Some even go on to become CTO! Check out Revelry’s very own Nick Schello’s path from Apprentice to CTO here.)
Having taken some time to reflect on my own Revelry apprenticeship, I feel compelled to share five important takeaways.
Takeaway 1: Transparency Is Key (aka Work Out in the Open)
Revelry’s culture is built around working in the open. This means regular use of Slack channels and DMs for asking questions and sharing information. I found the approach to be a little uncomfortable at first – since asking questions in front of an entire company can be pretty intimidating, especially as a newcomer – but my discomfort quickly turned to relief when I realized how many people were willing to offer answers and support.
A lot of times, we don’t know the best person to ask a question to, but by shouting it to the masses, we create space for multiple perspectives and are able to come to better conclusions. Shouting out questions, concerns, and comments also helps teammates to be more aware of where others stand on issues and blockers, resulting in greater cohesion, especially when working on intertwining features.
Overall, transparency is key. It encourages collaboration, efficiency, and unity.
Takeaway 2: Feedback Is the Goal, Not the Enemy
A naive, but common assumption about feedback is that it’s about pointing out mistakes. As a new employee at Revelry, I wanted to wow my team and prove my capabilities, so when I started receiving suggested changes to my code, my first instinct was to feel discouraged. As time went on, however, I noticed how much more eloquent and intuitive my code was becoming. I also noticed that even the best engineers at Revelry were also receiving feedback and suggestions – and that their willingness to incorporate others’ comments have likely played a big part in making them so great at what they do. Check out Forbes’ take on how feedback can be an effective career advancement tool here.
Even when you think you know exactly what you are doing, or that you have done something perfectly, there is almost always room for a nit or suggestion, and those are the things that took me from a wannabe software developer to a Revelry Software Engineer.
Takeaway 3: The Joy of Pairing
At my core, I am an incredibly independent person and this showed itself in both my school and work habits, until my apprenticeship. Coming to Revelry, I knew I needed to embrace the collaborative nature of the company to be successful and get the most out of my experience. What I didn’t know was how much I would come to love it. Pairing with team members is now one of my favorite aspects of my job. There is something super cool about hopping on a Zoom with my colleagues and working toward a solution together.
Pairing leads to camaraderie and allows multiple people to feel the responsibility of a problem or feature, resulting in high-level solutions. Medium refers to this as “pair pressure” and notes how developers work “harder and smarter” to not let their partner down. Even more importantly, I find the collaboration makes all team members feel valued and supported.
Takeaway 4: The Correct Career Timeline Is the One You Create
Coming out of college, the narrative I built in my head said I would graduate, start my career, and move up in linear progression within my chosen field. This led to a lot of stress and self-imposed pressure, especially since I was a 22-year-old who really didn’t know a single thing about being an adult. I took a job doing technology consulting and quickly realized my heart was in software development, but I felt like it was too late to pivot, because I had already picked my path and that was that. (It’s such a funny thing to look back on knowing what I know now.)
After months of deliberation, I made the jump and followed my heart, and Revelry welcomed me in and showed me how silly my previous apprehensions had been. I immediately met people of different ages and backgrounds who had taken the same jump as I had. The most encouraging part was to see how accomplished and respected they all were within their profession. I would venture to say that these multitude of career paths are a large contributor to Revelry’s success and culture, as multiple perspectives and approaches to ideas only lead to more inclusive and well thought out results.
Takeaway 5: You Are Never Done Learning
Software as an industry is a vast and ever evolving field. A software engineer can master a sliver of the existing technology, but never all of it, which leads to a career built on the idea of lifelong learning.
I used to feel overwhelmed with the multitude of knowledge I felt I needed to have; the moment I was really getting things, I’d be faced with a new problem that required me to learn more…often a new technology or a new process. A comforting and encouraging realization was that everyone is facing this same challenge daily. As product engineers, we are constantly faced with the need to research, review documentation, and reach out for support – and that’s okay. Some would even say it’s a really good thing (See the seven benefits LinkedIn associates with lifelong learning here).
These days, instead of racing to a non-existent finish line, I’ve learned to be content without being complacent. In other words, I let myself be proud of what I know and how far I’ve come, but never stop reaching for that next thing.
Want to chat about our apprenticeship program (or anything product development)? Connect with a member of our team. We love this stuff!