When it comes to building a great company and an incredible product, we know that diversity matters. As I’ve said in the past, “Diversity of experience, background, and identity not only makes us better colleagues, but amplifies our spirit of innovation and our commitment to building the world’s best software platform.”
But not everyone has a clear path to a job in tech. It can be particularly difficult for individuals with non-traditional work and educational backgrounds to find full-time roles. For every computer science graduate we hire, we know there are others who could also make a significant impact at GitHub: people whose work experience is primarily outside of tech and are looking to pivot into the industry; people who have taken time off for caregiving and are coming back into the workforce; and people who don’t have a traditional developer or engineering background (perhaps they are self-taught or participated in a coding program).
With this in mind, we’re proud to launch our new apprenticeship program, lovingly dubbed the ‘Octoprenticeship.’ We’re lowering the barrier to entry into tech to empower people with diverse backgrounds—people who should have a hand in building the future.
What is an Octoprenticeship?
An Octoprenticeship is a six-month, paid career development program designed to support individuals with non-traditional work and educational backgrounds. While we already have a successful internship program for full-time college students, we wanted to create a program for folks who don’t qualify for traditional internships. The program provides real-world experience to talented individuals who are passionate about tech and are looking to enter the industry.
Octoprentices (apprentices) gain valuable exposure to the industry, and they get to build their professional network—all while being provided with paid, on-the-job training. But they aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program. Diversity fosters innovation, especially when there’s a greater variety of viewpoints. Many of the apprentices will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives, infusing them into our teams. Ultimately, this leaves a positive impact on how (and what) we ship at GitHub.
Apprentices are given the opportunity to:
- Work on real GitHub projects with a team, and partner with a mentor for help throughout the program
- Develop professional skills and gain insight with feedback and performance reviews from peers, mentors, and managers
- Gain additional learning opportunities and resources provided throughout the program
What makes an Octoprenticeship unique
We designed our Octoprenticeships to provide the most value possible for the apprentice—and the most value for GitHub as a company. To accomplish this, we made several choices that set our program apart:
We expanded our understanding of “diversity” to include groups who are frequently overlooked in traditional diversity and inclusion programs: caregivers returning to the workforce, individuals pivoting into the tech industry, and developers/engineers without four-year degrees. We also opened the applications to individuals living outside the Bay Area; since GitHub has a highly distributed workforce, Octoprentices can work from our headquarters in San Francisco or work remotely.
We opened up both technical and non-technical roles to reach a wider audience and to help create a path into tech for individuals working in sales or account management (in addition to engineering).
For the duration of the program, apprentices are embedded within GitHub teams and work alongside full-time GitHub employees. This allows apprentices to learn from other Hubbers, contribute to real-world projects, and understand what it’s really like to work in tech.
We want Octoprentices to feel like they’re a part of GitHub and that they truly belong here. To foster a sense of belonging, Octoprentices will begin the program with an in-person orientation and onboarding experience at GitHub HQ in San Francisco. Then they’ll continue to receive support from the Employee Experience and Engagement (EEE) team over the next six months. They’ll also take part in custom learning and development workshops, attend monthly Lunch ‘N Learns with other teams within GitHub, and engage with our many communities of belonging, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and affinity groups.
To make all this possible, we partnered with organizations that align with our values and our mission. We wanted to ensure that we were creating a meaningful experience for everyone taking part in the program—our apprentices, our partners and our broader GitHub teams and community. Our partnerships with Path Forward, Sabio, and TechHire enabled us to not only build an inaugural program we believe in but also hire an exceptional cohort of apprentices.
Our first cohort
We’re committed to supporting the personal and professional growth of each apprentice, with a goal of converting all of our apprentices to full-time roles. To evaluate the success of the program, we will check in regularly with apprentices, mentors, and managers. We will use their feedback to improve the experience of the initial cohort and to iterate upon future Octoprenticeship programs at GitHub.
We were overwhelmed and impressed by the hundreds of applicants for our inaugural cohort. Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of talent that is ready and excited to jump in to these roles. We’re kicking off the program tomorrow and couldn’t be more proud of the five apprentices we’ve hired.