Onboarding and Mentoring Apprentices

Short Form


Our work, industry, and culture can benefit from bringing fresh eyes into engineering. I’ve personally heard from many industry veterans that they want to mentor new engineers, but don’t know how to initiate a program or convince an organization that Apprentice engineers will add value to a team. Mentoring is rewarding for the apprentice and the Mentor, and a good mentor is critical for helping new engineers succeed.


At Ulive, we’ve been fortunate to have hired, and trained, and continue to work with three apprentices over the past two years, despite our small engineering team of about 16. I’ve been very fortunate to have some fantastic mentorship in the beginning of my career, and have been paying it forward by mentoring and advising new engineers.

In this talk, I’ll cover the following:

  • What to look for when hiring an Apprentice
  • How to interview an Apprentice
  • Skills new engineers bring to the table
  • DevOps culture and methodologies provide an excellent framework for apprenticeships
  • Fears of new engineers, and how to help mitigate them
  • Setting expectations for Apprentices and Mentors
  • Mentor, Apprentice, and Company responsibilities
  • The Apprentice => Journeyman => Master progression
  • Making space in your team for Apprentices
  • What we did well with our Apprenticeships
  • What we didn’t do well with our Apprenticeships
  • The importance of knowledge sharing and growing the community
  • How mentoring can help diversity in the community and workplace
  • Resources to get started mentoring, even if you can’t do so right away with your company


apprenticing, devops, mentoring

Speaking experience

I've given several lightning and 30-40 minute talks at local meetups, and have given versions of this talk at DevOpsDays Silicon Valley in 2013 and 2014. Video of my talk in 2014 is online here: https://vimeo.com/115484860