Learning as a core value at Agiledrop
One of our core values at Agiledrop is learning and sharing knowledge. Different educational activities have always been an essential element of our company culture, geared towards both our employees as well as the local development community.
We’ve recently taken our commitment to learning to the next level with the introduction of new employee-focused processes and activities, and the expansion of our free technology courses for aspiring local developers. In this article, we’d like to tell you more about these.
Let’s first go through our internal educational and learning elements.
Onboarding & mentorship
Ever since Agiledrop’s inception, we’ve been keenly aware of the value of a good onboarding experience facilitated by a dedicated mentor. This became even more important during Covid lockdowns, when we had to streamline our onboarding process to accommodate employees joining the team remotely during that time.
On top of that, we recently introduced the role of a dedicated front-end mentor in addition to just a back-end / general development mentor, which not only enables front-end mentorship to be on a higher level due to more specialized expertise, but also frees up the time and focus of the back-end mentors, allowing them to commit more to their mentees – so, it’s a win-win for both front-end and back-end developers.
Help between teammates
But it’s not exclusively the mentors who help out junior and mid-level developers. Help between teammates is baked right into our strong culture of collaboration, and we both encourage and reward it.
We have a dedicated Slack channel where team members can ask for and receive help, and we’ve recently introduced the AgileKarma bot to our Slack, which allows teammates to give points to each other for their help and thus promotes cooperation in a healthy, constructive way.
Dashboard with Skills Review
In 2020, when we were mostly working from home, we developed an in-house Dashboard app which allows employees to easily accomplish things such as track time or request a vacation.
In December, we added the Skills Review feature to the app, which not only provides developers and their managers with a better overview of the developer’s experience, but also gives them the ability to assess how interested they are in a particular skill and if they would like more dedicated learning opportunities in it.
Specific video courses and tutorials
In addition to streamlined onboarding and skills reviewing, we also provide employees with a selection of video tutorials to hone specific skills, also accessible from the Dashboard app.
AgileTalks & recently introduced AgileWorkshops
One of our mainstay team activities have always been AgileTalks – short-form, 30 minute-ish presentations providing an overview of a particular topic, which tends to be something development-related, but can also be more general such as time management.
In 2021, we introduced an add-on to AgileTalks – AgileWorkshops, which last longer and expand the topic discussed on AgileTalks with a more practical programme focused on technical details. We had 3 Workshops last year: two were about VueJS and one was dedicated to debugging Drupal and PHP in general.
Both AgileTalks and Workshops fall under another new initiative: AgileAcademy, which also includes external learning activities, about which you’ll learn more in the second half of this post.
Now let’s break down our external learning activities which are geared towards the local development community.
We held our first free Drupal workshop back in 2017 and have kept up the tradition ever since, even managing to run a few courses during the Covid era when lockdowns were eased. These are one-day workshops taking place on a Saturday, during which we go through the basics of creating a Drupal website.
Getting new developers familiar with an open-source technology is one of the best ways to give back to the project and its community, with the additional value of also contributing to the local development community by helping up-and-coming developers get a foot in the door.
Just like we streamlined the internal AgileTalks with more practical workshops, we expanded the beginner-oriented Drupal workshops with the addition of a PHP Masterclass, an in-depth course on PHP taking place over two weeks where participants were required to already have some skills with PHP programming.
In 2019, we started working more frequently with technologies beyond Drupal and so we also started getting more involved in their respective communities. We hosted our first PHP meetup in June 2019, where we also had the privilege of learning more about the then upcoming PHP 7.4 from one of its release managers who was an Agiledrop team member at the time.
The second PHP meetup took place in September 2019, then we hosted our first WordPress meetup in February 2020 just before the pandemic began. For obvious reasons, we only hosted a single PHP meetup during Covid, but now we’re back on track and already gearing up for more upcoming internal and external events.
Featured as a speaker
A few times, our development director Boštjan and other team members have presented sessions at events in which we participated, such as a Drupal course we hosted at a local school center and most recently as part of the DragonHack hackathon organized by Major League Hacking.
New masterclasses & other courses coming soon as part of AgileAcademy
The Agile Academy is an attempt at connecting our internal and external learning activities, setting higher standards and facilitating organization for both.
The first external Agile Academy event was the already mentioned PHP Masterclass – which was a major success – but there are definitely new ones coming soon, as well as a new platform based on the Open Social Drupal distribution which will optimize the experience of applicants and participants.
A true commitment to promoting and facilitating learning has an incredibly positive impact on the employee experience as well as on the overall perception of your brand. For those who have been considering becoming more learning-oriented, we hope this article has provided a good example of what it looks like to have learning as a core company value.