We are so excited that you are interested in the Detroit Labs Apprenticeship Program! We understand that career changes, while exciting, can also be stressful and involve lots of unknowns. To help you out, we wanted to answer the most frequently asked questions about the Apprenticeship Program.

General Information

What is the difference between the Apprenticeship Program and the Intern Program?

The Intern Program is designed for candidates who have some prior experience in software development. Often, interns are working toward a Computer Science degree, have previously graduated from a developer bootcamp, and/or have some professional industry experience. Interns are hired by and assigned to specific project teams within Detroit Labs. The Intern Program focuses on client work and involves limited structured learning.

The Apprenticeship Program is designed for candidates with minimal or no prior experience in software development. Apprentices are hired as a cohort, and work and learn together as a group during the 12-week program. The Apprenticeship Program is an intensive structured learning experience and focuses on classroom instruction and project-based learning.

Is it possible to audit/volunteer/attend classes even if I am not accepted into the program?

No. We accept a limited number of apprentices in order to create a supportive, focused learning environment and ensure that each apprentice receives individual attention from instructors. We do not allow anyone other than apprentices, instructors, and Detroit Labs team members to be present in the classroom so as not to detract from the environment or disrupt the group.

If I have previously applied to Detroit Labs for a different role, can I apply for the Apprentice Program?

Yes.

If I have previously applied to an Apprentice Program and been rejected, can I apply again for the next program?

Yes.

What do you look for in an apprentice candidate?

We find that apprentices who have had real-world experience in the workforce tend to be more successful in the Apprenticeship Program environment. Prior work experience often improves self-awareness, builds professional skills such as time management and organization, and teaches people how to be good teammates.

To be successful in the program, apprentices must develop the skill of intentional, focused problem-solving. As developers, we constantly have to ask ourselves the same questions: “How do I solve this huge, complicated problem that seems impossible? What’s the first step? How can I use what I already know to help me find the answer? Where do I look for help?” These meta-skills of breaking down and defining problems, understanding what an answer might look like, researching effectively, and being able to discern a good solution from a bad one are very important.

Do you have to have any specific previous experience to apply or be hired as an apprentice?

No. The Apprentice Program is intended for candidates with minimal to no prior programming experience.

If I have experience, am I qualified/overqualified?

It depends.

If you have previously graduated from a software development bootcamp, have taken college Computer Science and/or programming classes, or have learned some programming skills on your own, but have no practical work experience, the Apprenticeship Program is likely to be a good fit.

If you are currently a software developer, you are likely overqualified for the Apprenticeship Program. You may wish to explore other career opportunities with Detroit Labs.

How do I apply for the Apprentice Program?

We only accept applications when we are actively planning an Apprenticeship Program in the near future. When each program is announced, we post about it on our blog, our social media channels, and our email lists. All announcements link to the Apprenticeship Program application. When there is an Apprenticeship Program that is actively accepting applications, the application is also available on our website. (Please note that the Apprenticeship Program and Intern Program are different, as described above, and require separate applications.)

What is the application process like?

To apply, candidates must fill out our Getting to Know You, or GTKY, a 30-question form that includes both interpersonal and logic questions. This replaces a resume in our application process, and is only available when we are actively recruiting for an Apprenticeship Program.

We select about 40 candidates to progress to in-person interviews. These interviews occur over several days and include individual and small-group exercises. Candidates may be eliminated at any stage of the process. We select candidates for intelligence, teamwork, persistence, determination, and self-awareness, and extend offers to our final choices.

What do you look for in GTKY answers?

At all stages of the interview process we encourage candidates to be honest and keep an open mind. We want to get a genuine sense for who you are, so don’t be afraid to let your personality come through in your answers. We take the time to seriously review your application answers, and we encourage you to take your time and respond thoughtfully. GTKYs with questions left blank are disqualified.

What would help me to get accepted in the apprenticeship?

There are many factors involved in selection decisions, and the reality is that we often have many more qualified applicants than we can accept. However, we’ll share one important suggestion: we really appreciate when applicants carefully read and follow directions and pay attention to detail during the application process. Being a great software developer requires these basic skills, and showing that you can follow directions goes a lot further than you think.

How does Detroit Labs feel about coding bootcamp graduates or applicants with traditional Computer Science degrees?

We have had successful apprentices who have graduated from coding bootcamps as well as apprentices who have previously received Computer Science or Information Technology-related degrees. However, prior experience is not required to be accepted for the Apprenticeship Program. The majority of our prior apprentices did not have either bootcamp or college-level programming experience.

Logistics

Will I be given a computer or do I need to provide my own?

If you are accepted into the program, you will get a computer and any other hardware that you would need to be successful in the program.

What happens after the apprenticeship is over?

It is always our goal and intention to place successful Apprenticeship Program graduates in full-time developer roles with Detroit Labs, either in-house or on a Detroit Labs OnSite team with one of our client companies. In order to be eligible for a full-time role with Detroit Labs, apprentices must complete all program graduation requirements successfully, and complete a technical review with Detroit Labs developers.

Do you charge people to be an apprentice?

No, there is no charge to participate in the Apprentice Program.

Do apprentices receive any compensation?

Yes. Apprentices receive a weekly stipend during the program which is equivalent to or greater than the current minimum wage in the State of Michigan.

What are the hours of the apprenticeship?

Hours may vary slightly, but typically the time commitment is 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

How long is the Apprenticeship Program?

The Apprentice Program is 12 weeks long.

Where is the apprenticeship? Do I have to live in Michigan to be eligible?

The Apprentice Program is located in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Apprentices need reliable transportation to and from Detroit each day during the program. You do not have to live in Michigan to be eligible for the Apprenticeship Program, but you must be able to travel to Detroit to participate in the interview process. No remote interviews are offered.

Do you have to be a certain age?

Apprentices must be at least 18 years old. Beyond that minimum, age is not a factor in the selection process. Previous apprentices have come from a wide range of age groups.

Will participants receive a certification in a particular information technology discipline?

No. The Apprenticeship Program is designed to build valuable skills in software development and to prepare apprentices to begin careers as junior software developers.

In the Program

What does a typical day look like?

The day begins with a group check-in and a short technical exercise or reading assignment. Apprentices spend mornings in the classroom learning software development and team skills from instructors and Detroit Labs developers. Afternoons are reserved for in-class assignments, group projects, and individual study. Apprentices “demo” their work to their classmates and instructor at the end of each day. Weekly activities may include workshops focused on technical and professional skills, 1:1 feedback meetings with instructors, skills assessments, and team-building outings in downtown Detroit.

What programming languages do apprentices learn, and how competent are they after 3 months?

Each program focuses on a specific programming language(s) and/or platform. Previous programs have taught iOS, Android, and JavaScript development. No matter the specific technology, programs are intensive and involve a mix of classroom- and project-based learning. After the program, successful apprentices are generally ready to begin careers as junior-level software developers. It’s important to note that the Apprenticeship Program is designed to give you a strong start, but there will still be a lot of learning and growing to do upon completing the program.

Can I still attend school/hold a full-time or part-time job while I am in the program?

Because the Apprenticeship Program is a full-time commitment, it is not possible to attend school or work full-time during the program. Past apprentices have held part-time jobs or attended classes in the evenings while participating in the program, but we do not recommend this as the Apprenticeship Program is extremely demanding and often requires significant study time outside the classroom.

What are the best/worst parts? What is the most challenging part?

Becoming a software developer through the Apprenticeship Program involves learning a mix of demanding technical, interpersonal, and professional skills, in an intensive environment, over a very short period of time. There’s no shortage of challenges! One day, you might spend six hours on a tough programming problem; the next day, you might find it just as difficult to work through a miscommunication with a teammate.

People will naturally pick up some concepts, and struggle with others. As a developer, the best part is when you make something work, or learn something that you find incredibly interesting or useful on a personal level. The worst part is when you’re struggling in the trenches and nothing works. This wave will continue throughout your entire career.

As a community of apprentices, the best part is that you have each other. There are countless hours of challenging work, and going through an intense program with a team makes every day a little easier. You will become each other’s cheerleaders, coaches, and built-in support system!

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