Developers Corner

How We Build (and Keep) an Incredible Team of Drupal Engineers

Jul. 13 2015
Shawn Smiley
Director of Engineering Operations

Read this post if you want to: • Invest in and keep your drupal engineers • Get more out of your dev team • Make the most out of your interns

Let’s face it, these days it can be an uphill battle to find and retain good Drupal engineers. High tech jobs, like web and software development, are said to have some of the fastest growing potential between now and 2017Sure, this is great news for the workforce, but what about companies who want to hang on to talented web developers?
 
For us, it all comes down to creating an awesome culture. We challenge our web developers daily. We also define a path to expand their education from the beginning. Here are a few ways that we’ve built -- and kept -- a solid team of engineers.
 

Develop talent internally.

Yes, it’s important to seek out bright candidates in the job application and interview process. But with a little perspective and vision, we’ve had success in developing smart engineers who are open to learning. Our team of experts was built by investing in our people.

How did we accomplish this long-term play? We start with raw talent and run an in-depth internship program.

Make your web development internship program exceptional.

Achieve Internet Drupal Engineer InternshipIn our experience, internship programs should maximize both the company’s resources AND the intern’s time. The best internship programs give hands-on experience.

Achieve internships are comprehensive. We start with classroom lectures on Drupal and web development fundamentals. Once the basics down, our interns move into working on real-life projects where they can apply and use a variety of web technologies. They work together and individually on assignments, just like they would on any engineering team.

Our goal is to hire the brightest interns, so the more they learn in our internship program, the better prepared they are for success in the long run. It’s also important to note that this investment raises the caliber of new Drupal engineers, and that benefits our Drupal community.

Education never ends.

Education can start with an internship, however it should continue throughout a Drupal engineer’s career. We’re always looking for ways to encourage education, like our “Lunch & Learn” program. Once a week, our developers are encouraged to present development related topics to the team to help bolster the team’s skills and knowledge.

In this industry, no one is ever done learning. Here’s how we challenge our web developers daily:

  1. We dare our engineers to push Drupal and open source tools to the max. This gives our dev team every opportunity to try new technologies and progress their skills.

  2. Technology is advancing non-stop and we like to take on projects that solve the most difficult problems. The result? A kickass team of razor-sharp engineers that lead Drupal development best practices.

The proof is in the pudding. This year, our developers started an internal competition to become Acquia Certified. Ken Gilbert, a graduate of our internship program, has been with us for a couple of years now. Ken stepped up to the challenge and not only became certified; he became an Acquia Certified Grand Master. Ken is one of six Achieve Grand Masters. This extraordinary accomplishment is proof of his personal development and mastery of Drupal - and it all started with our internship program! Now leading our current cohort of interns, Ken is sharing everything that he’s learned with the next generation of Drupal engineers.

It comes down to our web dev team culture.

Achieve Internet Drupal Engineer TrainingThere are many things that draw interns and web developers to a job opportunity, but team culture is what makes a company sticky. Culture is the key to hanging on to talented workers. For that reason, we protect it and stay smart about who we add to the mix.
 
We have found that these elements have the greatest impact on our dev team’s culture - so we run through these questions often:
  • Is there a clear vision, and do your web developers care about upholding that vision?
  • Do your company values align with your dev team’s values?
  • How do you communicate with your engineering team?
  • What “vibe” does your company encourage? Does that mesh well with your engineer’s personalities?

Cultivating an approachable work environment and investing in your people – no matter what the team – will return to you ten fold.

Have anything to add? What factors have you found play a role in finding and keeping great developers?

Feel free to start a conversation by leaving a comment below.

Want to learn more about company culture and trends in Drupal engineering? Check out the Achieve Internet Developer’s Corner

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