Why Think Company just launched an apprenticeship program - Technical.ly Philly

Dev

Jan. 25, 2018 12:57 pm

Why Think Company just launched an apprenticeship program

A 10-month apprenticeship at the experience design studio kicks off in March. The community has pointed to programs similar to this as a way to increase diversity in tech.
Think Company’s Center City offices.

Think Company's Center City offices.

(Courtesy photo)

At last year’s controversial Diversity Dinner, hosted by Philly Startup Leaders, one suggestion kept popping up as part of the solution to Philly’s diversity and inclusion woes.

Companies, attendees said, needed to set up programs like apprenticeships and internships as part of their tech teams, then make conscious decisions to open them up to under-represented groups.

Think Company’s newly-launched apprenticeship program aims to do that by way of a 10-month-long hands-on residency at the Center City experience design studio, which does work for companies like Comcast, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the American Red Cross.

The program has been a long time coming, said Kimberly Blessing, VP of Technology at Think Company.

“I’ve been with them for five years now, and the question was already on the table,” said the exec. “The leadership team has been evaluating a program like this on an almost year-to-year basis. And this was the year where we could offer something of value, could support an individual to come in and be productive and we could do it in a way that still makes money.”

In 2017, the 10-year-old company saw a number of dev jobs take a long time to fill, a struggle lived by most other tech firms in Philadelphia.

“The only way to fix this is to invest in people,” Blessing said.

According to TJ Nicolaides, director of development at Think Company, the ideal candidate has at least some experience in web development, especially working with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They’ll have coaching and access to the entire team as they polish up their skills.

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The company, per Nicolaides, is making a conscious effort to share the position with groups that encourage diverse representations in tech, like Girl Develop It, Code for Philly and others.

“In an effort to encourage all individuals to apply, the review process starts with a blind review,” said Blessing. “We’re being transparent in the job posting about the financials and benefits and the review process.”

The hope is that by the end of the program, the person will transition into a full developer role within the company.

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