Why Your Employees Should Learn to Teach

Student desk

How Formal is Your Training?

In the summer of 2014, we did our own developer boot camp. We got a grant from the City of Philadelphia.

The people who applied for the boot camp were so much more diverse than the people who usually apply for tech jobs. We didn't try to have women and minorities in our boot camp; it was a diverse application pool. They were mostly recent college grads; some of them were still in college, and some didn't have a tech background. There were science and humanities majors. They were starting to see the writing on the wall.


The boot camp was a six week course. It was amazing to see how hard they worked. Some of them were going to be more backend, some more frontend, and some would be better project managers. All different skills, and we hired some people, which was another reason for doing it. 

Find out who is reliable, who learns quickly, and who communicates well. Then hire the star students. I helped others get jobs in other companies. What we do is a trade, and you need to go through an apprenticeship to be really good. 

It's hard to make time for your people when you're a leader. You are going from meeting to meeting, and everyone's running up on you, and there are a thousand emails. I tell myself, "None of that is as important as what someone's asking me right now." They're not always asking me technical questions. Sometimes they're asking me how to deal with a client, or sometimes they talk about their personal lives.

The most important thing I need my people to learn is not how to be a great developer. The most important thing for them to learn is to value training people. When they value training people, they can train more people.

If all they do is learn to be a great developer, I'll get some value out of them. If they learn to teach everyone around them, and to grow up the next generation that we hire, that’s a lot more value. Luckily, teaching is a really great way to learn. 

How we work is we teach, and we learn, and we teach, and we learn.

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