One Approach to Improving Your Talent Pipeline
By: Eric Potter
Software teams are constantly faced with the challenge of finding the right talent. One way to approach this problem is to get involved with a software department at a local university. For the past 10 years, I've had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor at a local university. When I started, I correctly assumed that I would enjoy it. But at that time, I didn't understand how it would benefit Aptera. At first, I was concerned that teaching might conflict with some of my other professional goals, but what I have learned is that it has been an asset both to me individually and to Aptera. The biggest benefit to the company is that we are doing our part to increase the size and quality of our local talent pool.
My first semester teaching, the class included an eager-to-learn freshman named Travis. I taught through the syllabus but I also sprinkled in some of my industry experience. I tried to explain how the concepts they were learning in class would work in the context of a professional dev team. Travis got to see this play out a few years later when he joined the Aptera team.
I was excited when I heard Travis accepted the offer. He started making strong contributions to our Business Intelligence team immediately and has continued to learn and improve his skill set. He has helped implement many successful solutions for our customers. Now there are many things that he has taught me.
Many of my former students have gone on to have successful careers both here in the Midwest and around the country. Travis was the first of a group of my students to lead one of those successful careers here at Aptera. All of them are strong contributors to our team.
Improving The Talent Pipeline
In terms of talent development, working with a university is the long play. While, it won't help you staff a project that is ramping up next month, it will help you find developers that can grow to be problem solvers and leaders for years to come.
In the software industry, there is a constant complaint that academia doesn't do enough to teach students about modern software development. For example, many employers have to train their new-hires and interns to use source control. As an adjunct, I can make sure my students use source control tools like Git to turn in homework. This benefits the students since it will look good on their resumes, and it benefits their potential employees, like Aptera, because it is one less thing they have to cover when training young employees.
Teaching isn't the only way to contribute at a local university. One of my teammates serves on an industry advisory board for a local school. Many schools need companies to sponsor senior design projects. The important thing is to find a way to help schools produce high-quality graduates.
And that is the key benefit to Aptera. The better the talent is coming into the workforce, the better prepared Aptera is to continue to grow our team of highly skilled developers. Having skilled developers is a key part of being able to make our clients succeed with custom software solutions.
If you run a software organization, you need to have a plan for your talent pipeline just like you need to have a plan for your sales pipeline. Teaching at a local university is one way that we have found at Aptera to help ensure we continue to find good talent.
Next in the Pipeline
One of our current interns is a developer named Hannah, another one of my former students. She has already started adding value to our team and I'm confident that when she starts full time, her contributions will continue to grow. I'm excited to see the cool solutions she will build in the years to come.
About Eric Potter
Eric is a Microsoft MVP and Software Architect for Aptera Software in Fort Wayne Indiana, working primarily in the .Net platform. He has been developing high quality custom software solutions since 2001. He is also an adjunct professor of computer science at Indiana Tech. He loves to dabble in new and exciting technologies.