A Quality Analyst’s Take on the Aptera Academy

We’re proud of our culture of learning here at Aptera. It’s our mission to empower employees to help clients transform their businesses through software development. Thanks to the Aptera Academy, employee empowerment starts day one at Aptera.

The academy is our in-depth, customized approach to onboarding. The program was originally designed for developers to learn the tools needed to jump into client projects, from best practices to new coding languages. However, we’ve recently opened it up to clients and non-developers.

On Aptera Live, we chatted with QA Analyst Kristina Campbell about the format of the program, and how it helped her transition into Aptera. Watch the episode or check out the major points below.

What is the Aptera Academy?

The Aptera Academy is how we onboard new team members and consultants. It’s a blend of learning and mentorship. The program is designed to help new team members catch up on any hard skills needed as an Aptera team member while learning our shared vocabulary.

Along with agile theory and team dynamics, the curriculum includes a range of technical skills, including coding practices, UX design, and quality assurance.

What Was Your Initial Thought of the Academy?

When Hiring Manager Hillary Johnloz first introduced the academy to Kristina, she wasn’t sure what to think.

“I didn’t have a clear vision of what it was going to be like really when I imagined it,” she said. “I thought it was going to be kind of like a traditional onboarding with maybe more of than extensive online training program to power through.”

Thankfully, it’s not a traditional onboarding experience with boring videos. “I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s really, it was really interactive, and you know, you get to brought into the fold gracefully, so to speak. Nothing to power through.”

The Format of the Academy

The academy is completely customized, so it’s different for everyone who goes through it. Typically, team members spend between four to six weeks in it.

Everyone in the academy operates as a scrum team. “From the start you are being introduced to a scrum framework, a Kanban board,” she said.

The idea is to put agile methodology into practice. During the entire process, the Scrum team is working towards Sprint Goals.

“You have a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, you have Stakeholders,” she explained. “You know, you observe all the Scrum events. When you go to Sprint Review, there are various Stakeholders from Aptera that joined in to see your progress and ask questions and really participate.”

Along with Scrum events, team members study independently and then meet back up with the team to collaborate on problem items. The team will also chat about any topics or questions that come up.

“The Product Owner and the Scrum Master usually come in to help out too,” Kristina added. “You can clarify anything and then at a separate time, or during that time, if you’re ready, you can teach the material…That just really ensures that you understand the content that you’re going through and really internalizing those lessons.”

In the Aptera Academy, Kristina also had the chance to get the Professional Scrum Master 1 certification.

Work After the Academy

Kristina’s transition out of the academy was seamless. When she left the academy, she already knew a developer on her first project along with the Product Owner.

“The Product Owner for the first project that I was on was put on actually was attending our Sprint Reviews because her employee was going through the academy as a developer,” she said. “For me, it was probably exceptionally easy because of that.”

Aptera recently started offering the academy to members from client projects. Our hope is that some of the pairing and forming that happens almost subconsciously in the academy will help teammates build rapport with clients who are in the academy.

Another goal of the academy is that all Aptera team members have a shared vocabulary and common practices. “It’s helpful to have a shared language, already have like an understanding of the Scrum events, how the Kanban board is going to work, how we’re going to pull in stories, things like that,” Kristina said.

What to Know Before Starting the Academy

“I guess what I would have wanted to know is that in the academy, they’re really going to try to foster and develop psychological safety,” Kristina said. “So, you don’t have to be super stressed about being in this new team and trying to figure out how it works, you have people there to kind of guide you.”

Kristina added that with standard onboarding, you typically read a handbook and are thrown into work. But, the Aptera Academy offers a nice, easy transition. “Everybody’s cheering you on as you move along.”

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Saige Driver

Saige Driver

Saige is a social media coordinator for Aptera. Saige received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. Since graduating, she has been writing and learning about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.

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