There are lots of great reasons to work at Detroit Labs: the work is challenging and innovative, the people are exceptional, and there’s basically always free food. If you ask me, though, one of the best things about Detroit Labs is our teaching and learning culture, which has come to life this past year with the creation of our Developer Apprentice Program.
The Apprentice Program is a 3-month immersion course in mobile development. Applicants are not required to have any software experience. They receive classroom training in programming fundamentals, engage in directed study with video courses and tutorials, develop and build mobile apps as a team, receive coaching and mentoring from Detroit Labs engineers, and gain experience in all aspects of life as a mobile developer. The Apprenticeship is a full-time, paid position, and apprentices are eligible for promotion to Detroit Labs developers upon successful completion of the program.
If it sounds too good to be true, keep reading: admission to the program is exceptionally competitive, and the Apprenticeship is an intensive, challenging experience.
Getting in isn’t easy. The most recent cohort of 12 apprentices was selected from approximately 200 applicants, meaning the Detroit Labs Apprentice Program currently boasts a lower acceptance rate than all but one of the Ivy League universities (we’ll get you next year, Harvard). The application process is rigorous and includes two written applications and three rounds of cultural and technical interviews. Many applicants are local to the Detroit area, but previous apprentices have traveled from Chicago, Canada, and both coasts to take part in the interviews.
Once an apprentice is accepted to the program, the real work begins with daily classroom sessions, in which the apprentices learn programming basics and present their code each day for discussion and critique. After the first month of the program, they transition from the classroom environment to spending full days at Detroit Labs, where they build their knowledge and gain experience through a combination of self-study, workshops, and project-based learning. In addition to developing technical prowess, they must demonstrate great teamwork and interpersonal skills, gain in-depth knowledge about the processes and tools used by Detroit Labs in real-world projects, and engage with Detroit’s broader technical community.
The Apprentice Program is a huge investment for Detroit Labs, but it has provided wonderful returns. Any interested team member can help out with the Apprentice Program, setting the stage for constant opportunities for teaching and learning. Sharing our culture with newcomers allows us to reflect on our values, and in some cases to commit to them more deeply. Without the barrier of a requisite computer science degree or programming experience, applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, which is slowly allowing us to build a team with a richer depth and breadth of experience. The Apprentice Program presents a chance for people to change their lives through gaining a valuable, marketable skill, and we intend to create even more opportunities as we grow and expand the program. Keep an eye out for what we’re planning in 2015!
Detroit Labs invested in me in every sense of the word. They believed that in three months I could learn enough to develop functional and beautiful Android apps, without any prior software experience. They believed that I was a good fit for working with the brilliant, caring, and funny people in the company. They believed that I could operate independently in their realm free of kings. And I also got a sweet T-shirt.
After graduating from DevBootcamp I could not have found a better place to land than Detroit Labs. The apprenticeship program was the perfect place for me to continue my learnings and transition what I have learned into practice. Labs is a unique place with a more unique apprenticeship program designed for complete beginners. The mentorship, resources and mostly the support is amazing, everyone here is truly invested in seeing your success.
The apprenticeship is one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever gone through. However, through months of stress and punishment of my brain, Detroit Labs has taught me to be a coding Wizard. In the process I have meet amazing people, made tons of new friends, and become happier and more engaged that I have been in a long time.
Knowing that everyone at Detroit Labs genuinely cares about your success is one of the best parts of being an apprentice. While being immersed in programming with no previous experience has undoubtedly been overwhelming, everyone has been incredibly supportive at every step of the process. Whether I’m working on group projects with fellow apprentices, shadowing a developer or seeking input from my weekly mentor, I love that I get to learn from so many creative, talented people every day. It’s been really encouraging to see how far our apprentice class has come in the last few months: Even though we all come from very diverse professional backgrounds with a wide array of learning styles, we all share a passion for building cool things!
Anybody who tells you that anyone can code is lying. Only people who are willing to work really hard, watch their brains melt in front of their faces and can roll with the punches can learn to code.