Two engineers working together. Photo by Christina Morillo.
Two engineers working together. Photo by Christina Morillo.

We’re Creating a Tailored Learning and Development Program for Entrepreneurial Engineers, and We Need Your Help (Part I)

September 24, 2019 in Coaching

This post is part I of a series where we’ll document the ongoing creation of our learning and development program at Commit. Stay tuned for subsequent posts that show what we’ve tried, what’s worked, what input we received, and even what didn’t work at all.

In my previous posts, I talked about how Commit is dedicated to career growth, not just project work. From the beginning, we knew that if Commit was going to be built properly, we had to have a foundation that not only encouraged, but actually dedicated a certain element of itself to growth and development for each engineer. Our aim is to partner with talented and experienced engineers, but we also know a tech career requires life-long learning, and skills can get outdated quickly. Our plan is to set up Commit as a world class mentor and coaching network that extends well beyond just the tenures of the engineers who partner with us, and is dedicated to being a lifelong partner for each engineer’s growth. We want this learning to be driven by each engineer’s own goals, passions, and interests, so that we differ from traditional corporate programs that force development along either a management or independent contributor track.

We are still very early stage, we’ve tried a few things, we’ve collected feedback from our current Engineering Partners, and now I would love to hear your input as well; please let me know what you think in the comments.

The Core Principles of Learning and Development

At only half a year old, our learning and development program is still in its early stages. We expect it to grow and change over time, but we will adhere to the core principles that we set out at the beginning:

  1. Individualized Learning

It’s important that we craft a program that is suited to individual engineers according to their own career progression goals and passions, instead of being dictated by the company. We want to differ from traditional corporate development initiatives, which involve large scale, generic training programs that give employees very limited choices.

2. Hands-On Learning

I know from experience–and the Engineering Partners at Commit have also reinforced–that the best learning happens when it’s hands-on, through real projects and work. Sure, a dedicated learning seminar is helpful, but without being able to apply that knowledge right away, the information is quickly lost.

We also know that the best work is that which is aligned to the passions and interests of the individuals assigned to it. This is why we’ve established deep profiles for each of the engineers that come to Commit, so that as the projects from startups roll in, we can ensure that we assemble teams who have the right skills, areas of interest and desire to work on specific opportunities at the helm. Unlike agency work, which can seem monotonous and quality of code base is not emphasized, we wanted a model where work is more purposeful, allowing the engineer to learn and grow. This is why we match startup opportunities that can leverage the existing skill sets of our engineers, but also enable them to learn something new.

3. Help is Accessible

If learning is going to be organic, and hands-on through actual projects, then Commit engineers need timely, easily accessible support from a large network of domain experts and mentors who are incentivized to help others and get help from others

4. Mentorship over Management

We don’t plan to hire traditional engineering managers as we scale. Commit Engineers work directly with startups providing autonomy and accountability to the quality of work produced, and helping build relationships that may actually facilitate long term hires within these new companies. We ensure that we bring in true Entrepreneurial Engineers to form a highly effective peer-to-peer technical mentorship network. We also believe engineers can benefit from dedicated career coach who can assist their lifelong career growth beyond what individual companies can offer.

Learning and Development — Key Findings So Far

There are two key questions I have when it comes to growth and development: What’s most important to learn? And what is the best way to learn? I recently put this out to the Commit team in a learning and development workshop, and I want to know from you too, what your thoughts are.

Here’s some early feedback:

What’s most important to learn?

The team concluded that three areas were important to learn:

  1. Technical Skills: Tech skills get outdated fast, every few years there are new, exciting tech innovations that engineers have to learn to stay relevant.
  2. Leadership: How to become the best leader at what you do and make people around you better (note in this case, ‘leader’ is not equivalent to manager)
  3. Entrepreneurship: How to be most effective and continue to thrive in the startup world?

What is the best way to learn?

Here the team prioritized several learning techniques which we’ll look to employ in our learning and development program:

  • Hands-on, learning by doing (real-world projects)
  • Peer to peer mentorship
  • Project on-boarding, involving a set amount of time to pick up new skills required by the job before being thrown into fire.
  • Quick access to help
  • Sharing of lessons learned
  • Training/certification — this was hotly debated, and we concluded that it would need to be directly aligned with the next project so that the information can be immediately applied in a real-world scenario.

We’re also building tools to assist learning and career progression. Our team is currently working on tools to map out career/tech-skill progression for accomplished engineers to help guide others. In addition, we will have space for the team to have opportunities during their time with Commit to pursue their area of interest, such as creating/contributing to open-source, or building their own startup ideas.

Commit is for passionate Entrepreneurial Engineers, so that all of our Engineering Partners can collaborate with, and learn from one another. The best talent will also attract the best startups, giving everyone better opportunities to grow. If this sounds like something you want to talk to us more about, visit commit.dev and request more info.

And please, let me know your thoughts in the comments, or DM me directly on Linkedin.

Interested in partnering with Commit? Visit commit.dev to request more info.