How to Create a Great Engineering Culture for Young Engineers

/ February 7, 2018 in 

Be Careful Young Engineers

Are you a young engineer?  If so, this post might redirect the trajectory of your career.  At BTI360 we pay special attention to developing a great engineering culture for young engineers.  It’s centered around our core values:

  • Leading with Humility
  • Doing the Right Thing
  • Growing Each Day

That’s our BIG 3.  Living these out each day require intention, discipline, and a willingness to take ownership when we fall short.  We pay special attention to reinforce these values into our young engineers.  Why are we so adamant about developing young engineers?  Keep reading!

Unfortunately, most graduating software engineers are thrown onto a project and left to fend for themselves.  My experience wasn’t much different.  I had a software engineering internship and was fortunate enough to be hired after graduation.  Soon after starting I was assigned to a project and given little information about what to expect.  Instead, I showed up and the deluge of acronyms and system component names swept over me.  I spent most of the time figuring out what business problem we were trying to solve and how the system worked.

After moving on to a new project, I had a tech lead who invested in my professional growth and held me accountable.  This changed the trajectory of my career.  For some, that technical mentor never shows up.  This has left many engineers out to sea drifting about with little to no direction.  So how do we prevent this from happening?  We surround them with a great engineering culture…read on to find out how.

How to Create a Great Engineering Culture for Young Engineers

We often get asked how we create a great engineering culture for young engineers.  It’s simple.  Our engineering culture focuses on shipping software.  We emphasize this to our young engineers when they start. We make sure they merge their first change to the production branch (master) within the first two weeks of starting.  If this excites you…read on.  If this scares you…definitely read on!  To ensure our young engineers learn quickly and don’t accidentally nuke the system in the process we do three things:

1. Hook them up with a Coach

Engineering Culture for Young Engineers - Software CoachThat’s right, we pair up every young engineer with a senior software engineer. Our software coaches are specifically trained to help our young engineers navigate their new project.   This includes ramping up on code repos, understanding implementation approaches, and meeting new colleagues.  Most importantly, they are there to answer questions.  In fact, we tell our young engineers if they aren’t asking questions, something’s wrong!  Our coaches are critical to accelerating our young engineers’ ability to learn and become high performing team members.

2. Automated Deployment Pipeline

Engineering Culture for Young Engineers - Deployment Pipeline Second, we put our young engineers in an environment with a HUGE safety net.  A.K.A. a deployment pipeline.  So, if a young engineer merges a defect, no worries!  Our deployment pipeline will catch the defect before it wreaks havoc because we run new changes through a battery of automated testing.

Deployment pipelines came on the scene after the Continuous Delivery book was released in 2010.  Years later many organizations are still trying to implement the book’s vision.  At BTI360, we invest in implementing 5 key elements within a deployment pipeline to ensure fast, automated feedback each time a change is made:

  1. Configuration Management – Automated version control and dependency management
  2. Continuous IntegrationAutomated build processes
  3. Automated TestingHigh ROI automated tests sequenced from fast to slow
  4. Automated Deployment Low/No human intervention deployments
  5. Automated Environment ManagementInfrastructure as Code and cloud services

3. Disciplined Team Practices

Engineering Culture for Young Engineers - Disciplined Team Practices Lastly, we ensure our young engineers are surrounded by a disciplined engineering team with professional engineering practices.  Our teams use Clean Code practices to make sure code is maintainable and well tested.  We also adhere to a structured process that includes requirements verification and code reviews.  This helps accelerate knowledge transfer, bakes quality in, and makes sure we keep the main thing the main thing – Delivering Great Software Fast.

Outstanding Results

Our young engineers are awesome!  It’s not uncommon that technical leads on our projects are 25/26 years old.  That’s no accident.  After going through BTI360’s internship program and steeping in our engineering culture for 3-4 years, they are equipped to lead technically and professionally.  Today most are leading development teams, mentoring other young engineers, and teaching professional engineering courses.

Want to Join a Great Engineering Culture for Young Engineers?

If you’re a passionate software professional and want to work in a great engineering culture for young engineers, give us a shout!  We’re always looking for like-minded engineers who want to grow themselves and grow others.  Check out our current Career Opportunities and what Life @ BTI360 is like.

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