As an apprentice, our goal is to ensure that you are given a standardized set of tools to help you succeed at Tandem and beyond. These tools include client-facing project-based learning, bi-monthly classes structured around your needs and our skillsets, non-billable hours to explore topics of your choice, a designated mentor, an engineering manager, structured feedback loops, and an entire team ready and excited to work with you.
This mutually beneficial relationship ensures that Tandem builds a diverse team all along our career path, allowing us to invest in our growth as a company and in supporting great individual developers.
Our team has worked hard to provide our employees with a clear understanding of what determines your position at the company. From apprentice to Principal engineer, check out our full career path document to see what we expect you to know before beginning your journey.
Because no two apprentices are the same, the apprentice journey can be anywhere from 3 to 12 months. We believe in our process; by the end of a year, all of our apprentices will be ready for the next step.
We do our best to hire two apprentices at a time. This is to create camaraderie, quickly grow our team, and help alleviate imposter syndrome by strength in numbers. There is no competition between the apprentices, our hope is that both will continue their software journey with our company.
What you’ll learn
Being a Tandem software consultant is about more than just writing code—we get to take part in the design process, product development, and business growth. We hope to set you up with a solid foundation in the following principles:
Agile development practices
Our team prides itself on following traditional agile processes, and staying with tradition, we continuously iterate on our agile practice. We use both Scrum and Kanban practices in our work depending on the problem we’re solving and the client we’re working with. You’ll learn proficiency with a tracking tool or two such as Pivotal or JIRA and participate in all of our agile ceremonies including daily client stand-ups, weekly retros, weekly sprint reviews and planning, story writing sessions, and more.
You’ll learn everything you need on the job, but for deep-dive conversations and to build a solid technical foundation, apprentices will attend bi-monthly Lunch & Learn classes where lunch will be provided and a technical topic will be presented. The curriculum is always evolving and includes
- Agile software development and frameworks (Scrum and Kanban)
- Version control
- Organizing your developer workflow
- Data modeling
- Relational database and SQL principles
- Inheritance and composition
- Unit testing
- Semantic HTML and CSS
With Tandem’s way of working, you’ll get a lot of face-to-face time with the client. You’ll learn how to confidently handle happy or not too difficult client communication in person, emails and standard meetings. And you’ll learn the intricacies of how to push back when needed.
Check out this post from our blog on what consulting looks like at Tandem!
Aside from all the other stuff, this IS a software developer job. We write a lot of code and so will you. We’re all about full stack here so you’ll have frontend and backend work. You’ll learn our Git workflow, commit early and often with descriptive messages, open and merge pull requests, review your teammates’ code, deploy to staging and production environments, configure hosting platforms, manage our continuous integration services, and build a lot of software.
Learning / professional development
At Tandem, we pair! We pair 90% of the time, if not more. We love pairing. But we also know pairing is not right for every endeavor. We think it’s important for apprentices to take time for themselves to focus on things they feel they can’t learn directly on a client project or in a pair. Non-billable time should be taken once a week to focus on and build skills that will help with everyday life as a software consultant.
All Tandem employees are given a learning budget, so we encourage you to find things that interest you (events, conferences, books, videos, new software, machinery), will boost your confidence, and will expand your mind.
You will be assigned a mentor on day 1 of your apprenticeship, and they will be with you through the whole process! You and your mentor will establish a consistent and frequent meeting schedule; these 1-on-1s can take place at a coffee shop, in the office, during a walk around the neighborhood, or whatever your agenda requires. These meetings are intended to track your progress, identify your strengths, and set achievable goals. You will create a metaphorical checklist (or a physical one if you want it!) and your mentor will provide resources on how to check off every item. This person is responsible for your daily growth and well being.
You will also be given an engineering manager. This person is responsible for the big items such as managing your career growth, salary and promotions, time-off requests, and long-term goals, as well as providing additional support for you and your mentor. They’ll send out your official 3-month performance reviews.
Every Tandem teammate gives and receives written feedback throughout the year. Our team is always learning how to write feedback that is Actionable, Specific, and Kind (ASK). You too will learn how to do this! You will have your first written feedback at the 3-month mark of your journey. You’ll be given feedback from teammates you’ve worked closely with, and be asked to provide feedback for them. At this time you will also provide a self-assessment to check in with yourself. These reviews will be sent every 3 months, until graduation, and then you’ll continue to do these every 6 months as a Level 1 Engineer.
Ideally, the feedback loop is not limited to this official process—you will also learn to give feedback on a daily basis, checking in with your pair, in a 1-on-1 with your mentors, etc. Our team is always looking for feedback.
Tandem has been striving to work with companies involved in what we call “The Impact Sector”. Our team has divided into groups to explore ideas and become experts in one of the sectors. Apprentices will join an impact sector group that resonates most with them.
How we work and our benefits
We care deeply about our team and strive to provide flexibility and benefits so each person can prioritize the things they care about.
For example, our core working hours are from 10am-4pm. The goal of core hours is to ensure that we can pair and collaborate in a high-bandwidth way during the majority of our workday while allowing us the flexibility that real life requires. You may notice that 10am-4pm for five days doesn’t add up to 40 hours – yet 40 is generally what we expect to do. How you organize your work time outside of core hours is at your discretion, whether this is early mornings, late evenings, or weekends (though weekend work is not recommended).
Our other benefits include
- Healthy work/life balance with no overtime requests; work 40 hours and go home
- Minimal travel; work mostly at our offices (not on-site at client offices)
- Competitive annual salary
- 100% employer paid medical, dental, and vision plans for employee, spouse, and family
- 100% employer paid life insurance policy
- 100% employer paid short-term and long-term disability insurance
- 1 week of paid time off for your apprenticeship. Converting to our standard paid time off benefit of 3 weeks of paid time off to start, increasing by 1 week each year up to 5 weeks off upon graduation.
- 3 paid conference days each year
- 1 optional work-from-home day per week
- Catered lunch and breakfast in-office from local restaurants multiple days each week
- Annual learning budget for conferences, courses, online training, books, etc.
- Yearly pre-tax transit benefit
- Eligibility to enroll in the Tandem retirement plan with 3% employer matching after 6 months of employment
For a full list of all benefits and employment policies, please check out our Company Handbook.
How do we know when you are ready to graduate? How do you know when you are ready to graduate? The apprenticeship journey is never a straight line, but we feel confident that our program will prepare you for what comes next. At our company, the next step is to become a Level 1 Engineer, get a great raise, have more responsibility, keep learning and keep doing great because you must have done great to get here. As mentioned above, the expectations of our Level 1 Engineer are thoroughly documented in our career path, which provides a clear sense of when it’s time to graduate.
Congratulations on making it this far (in this document or in the apprenticeship)! Let’s go get tacos to celebrate.