Early in 2015 Sky made a commitment towards expanding its technology hub to the North. With this expansion came a new set of challenges regarding resourcing and training a dedicated team in the area.
We were approached by Sky to help draw up and deliver a bootcamp for Ruby developers during their initial recruitment drive. This involved authoring a set of materials and workshops that could be open sourced and built upon by their developers. We were also tasked with assisting new waves of developers joining the company in getting up to speed with Sky's architecture and processes.
Sky enlisted our help due to such rapid growth in Leeds and wanting to respond quickly and efficiently to on-boarding developers. With our experience of the best development practices — and more specifically Ruby — we were a good fit.
The initial bootcamps were held between June and September, 2015.
The bootcamp’s curriculum followed this loose outline:
- Exercises: Introductory tasks such as opening up an interactive Ruby shell and object oriented programming
- Workshops: Face-to-face workshops with candidates, highlighting different features and patterns found in common Ruby applications
- Final Project: An end of course project allowing candidates to put their learnings into practice within the context of a real world application
- Handover: Migrating the candidate from the bootcamp into a production squad. Sky use a similar engineering culture to Spotify
However, this framework was in place more as a point of reference than a strict linear path. We found a more informal course to be more inviting and intuitive to candidates who already knew how they approached learning and problem solving.
Exercises were mostly unattended to allow time and mental space for candidates to discover a learning style that worked for them. Following each exercise they were also encouraged to request feedback and code reviews. We used industry standard tools such as GitHub to monitor and review candidates' progress. Forking from the main sky-uk/ruby-bootcamp repository allowed us to see work in progress, as well as providing a platform for us to review work in Pull Requests.
Workshops were more involved with us gathering candidates together for either live coding sessions or talks. These were always informal to encourage group discussion, and we found these to be the most effective tools for teaching candidates the "Ruby way" of doing things.
The final project was another useful tool for evaluating the sum knowledge from all exercises and workshops within the bootcamp. We found this to be a great talking point amongst candidates as well as a useful way to gauge who would work well in squads together.
We're incredibly proud of the work we did with Sky, and enjoyed helping them with their expansion to Leeds. We're excited about what it will do for the future of technology in the North.
The feedback we received from candidates was well balanced and positive, with Stac being praised for our support and expertise in teaching Ruby to newcomers and experienced developers in the language.
If you'd like to take advantage of the learning materials produced during this project, it's being actively developed over on GitHub.