In our previous post we sat down with Igor Danilov, our CEO to talk about how we are able to add two hundred top 3% tech talent every year. We discussed talent-nurture programs that start long before a person joins SENLA and how they enable us to integrate new talent into our teams lightning fast.
Today we are sharing what path lies ahead for our engineers, what it takes for a junior developer to ascend to a senior level, and the ways we structure our teams to promote continuous learning and accountability.
When planting a seed you have a pretty good idea what it’s going to become. But you can't just throw a seed into the ground and expect it to flourish. You need to nurture and take care of young plants to blossom and turn into resilient trees; it requires time, tools, dedication and specific processes.
We had more than 10 years to develop and improve our own processes and tools and create a supportive ecosystem for our employees, so they can grow personally and professionally, be engaged and interested in what they do, creative and efficient. This is the way we raise senior developers from our staff.
So what’s inside SENLA’s DNA?
It’s traditional to categorize skills by soft and hard, but we like to approach skills synergistically: mental agility is a soft skill, but it arises by solving specific challenging problems, which is a hard skill.
At the heart of our company we cultivate these skills and qualities:
- Continuous Learning
- Mastery of skills
- Attention to detail
“I love working with “freaks”! When people have drastically nonidentical perspectives it reveals blind spots and helps us discover unorthodox solutions. Diversity is a big part of our talent strategy.”
Processes and Tools for Becoming a Senior Developer
We have a diverse array of thoughtfully crafted processes and tools at SENLA to support and develop our talent on their way to becoming senior developers:
Schools of Development (read in depth article here)
Eight-month long intensive practical training programs aimed at finding and recruiting top talent. Conveniently located at tech colleges and universities campuses.
More than 70% of our tech workers join SENLA through this program. This way we can see who embodies our DNA imprint and would be a great addition to our team.
Personal Development Plan and Mentorship
Once you are in, you start working with your mentor on creating a Personal Development Plan.
We strongly believe in mentorship. In fact, this is the magic glue that holds us together. By being a mentee, you realize that nurturing a professional relationship with a senior developer can make you feel more confident, give new perspectives, support and offer advice, keep you accountable and celebrate achievements.
It’s only natural that you would want to share that with another person. Being a mentor is not only rewarding, but it strengthens your knowledge, improves interpersonal and leadership skills, and provides a sense of fulfillment.
Mentorship translates into clear business benefits for SENLA: our attrition rate is at record low 6%, our software developers stay in the company for an average of 5 years, engagement and work meaningfulness scores are consistently high.
Learning and Development Department, Competency Centers
Henry Ford once said: “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
At SENLA we strongly believe that continuous learning is the only way to succeed in our business. Our Competency Center and L&D Department are responsible for making sure employees are on track with their Personal Development Plan, organizing inside and public events, developing educational programs, and building and maintaining our corporate culture.
However, the main objective of our L&D initiatives is aimed at cultivating a company that celebrates curiosity and the joy of discovery that comes with it. If you want to build a spaceship, don’t give men orders and divide the work. Instead, teach them to yearn for the unknown, to explore, to celebrate insights.
Path to Senior Developer
Current market expectations for a junior developer to reach senior level are around five years of experience, and two to three years for middle level.
However, at SENLA we can deliver a middle level specialist in just one year, thanks to our Schools of Development, where we teach and rigorously train students in real production environments. By the time they join SENLA we have a strong foundation of the necessary skills for them to rapidly progress on their professional path to a senior developer, working on real projects under guidance of senior engineers.
Shift from monoculture
One more advantage of being a development powerhouse is that we have a variety of manifold projects, involving different tech stacks and skills. At startups developers work on just a single project, under the same leadership, which slows down their overall growth. Instead of technical monoculture, we encourage our engineers to take on challenging projects and work in different teams, industries and try on various methodologies to accelerate their path to becoming a senior developer.
Vertical industry development path
At the middle level, most of our developers have worked on quite a few projects and are aware of their strongest skills and what industry they would like to continue exploring. Most of our software engineers specialize in a specific industry, because it allows them to speak customer’s language, solve typical business challenges more efficiently, and have a solid background in understanding how a client’s business operates.
Max efficiency project pods
At SENLA we understand how important it is to have real world development experience. At the same time, we strive to deliver the best possible quality of work for our clients. That’s why we have set up our teams in a very specific way.
Every project has a Senior Developer, who is responsible for making sure that the team works efficiently, manages day-to-day operations, solves high-level challenges and communicates with a client. Based on the size and scope of the project we add the necessary amount of Middle Developers. They are fully sufficient and can solve any technical problem on their own. We also add a Junior Developer to the pod, so they can learn, practice and grow in a predictable and safe environment, nurture their skills, and maintain high levels of motivation. It’s great to see that your work is helping others!
There is one more level of specialists that work on our client’s projects that is above a senior developer. It can take up to ten years to achieve. Not everyone will become a Lead, nor do we require that every developer reach this level.
A lead is a senior developer who doesn't only have mastery of technical skills, but also deep knowledge and understanding of business processes and practices. These are Professionals 2.0, who have dedicated years to hone their expertise and comprehension of how business work and how technology can help them evolve and reach their goals. Majority of them have PhDs and more than one professional degree.
All Leads are involved in mentoring and coaching, speaking at events and influencing L&D activities.
How can we help you?
If you would like to learn more about our hiring culture or take a look at our team’s skills and portfolio, let’s set up a short introductory meeting so we can talk about your organization goals and how SENLA can help you accomplish them faster.