Your Next Great Teammate

Chad Pytel

Every company we speak with could use a great webdesigner or developer on their team. We think we know where to find suchmysterious figures.

What does a great teammate look like

Imagine a programmer next to you, noise-canceling headphones on, punishinghis keyboard with forceful blows, punctuating each change byslamming the heels of his hands against his desk. While tests run, jolly meme photos float into Campfire.

Imagine this person writing test-first code that is pushed to production each day. Imagine them refactoring ruthlessly and making other team members stronger through feature branch code reviews.

37signals doesn’t have to imagine. Nick Quaranto now works with them.

Nick was an apprentice at thoughtbot. We cannotclaim responsibility for his motivation, problem solving abilities, or other Nick-isms, but his time with us was not an aberration.

There are plenty of great designers and developers worldwide

75% of the new team members we hired last year started as apprentices.

Last year, we met Prem Sichanugrist, a lifelong Thailand resident. You’ll find himcurrently ranked #32 for most commits to Rails.

Galen Frechette creates useful and beautiful stuff like this. Alex Godin was in Techstars New York before he could legally buy a pack of smokes. Gabe Berke-Williams is becoming a prolific (and often funny) open source contributor.

All are former thoughtbot apprentices.

Running an apprenticeship program isn’t easy

We’ve now run an internal apprentice program for about two years. We’ve also run design and development workshops for years.

Like many things, these are easy to start but difficult to regularly do well. Apprentices will temporarily slow their mentors down. Questions will arise.

How much time should be spent pairing? Attending workshops? Reading the Pickaxe or watching Peepcodes? Reading incoming code reviews from a variety of projects?

We’re getting good at many of these subtle details. As a fairly efficient design-and-code consultancy, we’re the right team to try to push the limits.

We’re now opening up our apprenticeship program externally for any company that would like to sponsor apprentices.We’re calling this new

When you sign up on the website as an employer you get immediate access to the bios of all of the current apprentices and the others from all over the world that we already have scheduled for this year.

As an employer, you contact and interact with the apprentices directly. Over time we’ll grow platform to provide mentor-to-employer updateson the progress of apprentices, and more.

For little more than you may already pay job boards and a lot less than you might pay recruiters, this money now goes to train people.

We think that’s a powerful idea: what if instead of recruiting, you educate?

Sign up as an employer.

If you’re a designer or developer interested in apprenticing, please apply.

If you just want to talk about this, please email me at or call me at (877) 976-2687 x113.