Aug 03 2019
Aug 03

Approaching 20 years old, the Drupal Community must prioritize recruiting the next generation of Drupal Professionals

Kaleem Clarkson Ferris Wheel in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia

Time flies when you are having fun. One of those sayings I remember my parents saying that turned out to be quite true. My first Drupal experience was nearly 10 years ago and within a blink of an eye, we have seen enormous organizations adopt and commit to Drupal such as Turner, the Weather Channel, The Grammys, and Georgia.gov.

Throughout the years, I have been very fortunate to meet a lot of Drupal community members in person but one thing I have noticed lately is that nearly everyone’s usernames can be anywhere between 10–15 years old. What does that mean? As my dad would say, it means we are getting O — L — D, old.

For any thriving community, family business, organization, or your even favorite band for that matter, all of these entities must think about succession planning. Succession what, what is succession planning?

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die. -Wikipedia

That's right, we need to start planning a process for identifying who can take over in leadership roles that continue to push Drupal forward. If we intend to keep Drupal as a viable solution for large and small enterprises, then we should market ourselves to the talent pool as a viable career option to help in an attempt to lure talent to our community.

There are many different way’s to promote our community and develop new leaders. Mentorship. Mentorship helps ease the barrier for entry into our community by providing guidance into how our community operates. Our community does have some great efforts taking place in the form of mentoring such as Drupal Diversity & Inclusion (DDI) initiative, the core mentoring initiative and of course the code and mentoring sprints at DrupalCon and DrupalCamps. These efforts are awesome and should be recognized as part of a larger strategic initiative to recruit the next generation of Drupal professionals.

Companies spend billions of dollars a year in recruiting but as an open-source community, we don’t have billions so

… what else can we do to attract new Drupal career professionals?

This year’s Atlanta Drupal Users’s Group (ADUG) decided to develop the Drupal Career Summit, all in an effort to recruit more professionals into the Drupal community. Participants will explore career opportunities, career development, and how open source solutions are changing the way we buy, build, and use technology.

  • Learn about job opportunities and training.
  • Hear how local leaders progressed through their careers and the change open source creates their clients and business.
  • Connect one-on-one with professionals in the career you want and learn about their progression, opportunities, challenges, and wins.

On Saturday, September 14 from 1pm -4:30pm. Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta-Buckhead 3342 Peachtree Rd., NE | Atlanta, GA 30326 | LEARN MORE

Student and job seekers can attend for FREE! The Summit will allow you to meet with potential employers and industry leaders. We’ll begin the summit with a panel of marketers, developers, designers, and managers that have extensive experience in the tech industry, and more specifically, the Drupal community. You’ll get a chance to learn about career opportunities and connect with peers with similar interests.

We’re looking for companies that want to hire and educate. You can get involved with the summit by becoming a sponsor for DrupalCamp Atlanta. Sponsors of the event will have the opportunity to engage with potential candidates through sponsored discussion tables and branded booths. With your sponsorship, you’ll get a booth, a discussion table, and 2 passes! At your booth, you’ll get plenty of foot traffic and a fantastic chance to network with attendees.

If you can’t physically attend our first Career Summit, you can still donate to our fundraising goals. And if you are not in the position to donate invite your employer, friends, and colleagues to participate. Drupal Career Summit.

Apr 01 2013
Apr 01

April 1st, 2013

As Acting-CEO of ImageX (self-appointed while Glenn Hilton is on vacation with his family), I am pleased to announce our latest recruiting and professional development initiative. Starting immediately, ImageX Media will begin working with interested families across North America to train children under the age of two to develop web solutions of uncompromising quality using Drupal. This program, known as the OpenBaby Initiative, is believed to be a first of its kind in the web development community and has been received enthusiastically by the IXM staff.

“Most developers are babies anyway,” said Patrick Jones, Senior Project Manager. “At least with the OpenBaby Initiative I’ll be able to give underperforming devs a time out.”

HR Coordinator Gabrielle Garon, who has a nephew and therefore totally understands about children, was initially hesitant about the program but came to understand the value. “At first I was worried about the labour implications (no pun intended), but when it became clear we weren’t going to pay the babies, all my concerns went away.”

According to highly ranked Google search results, child develop experts such as mcKeNNazMomMY107 agree that younger children learn the foundations of new languages easier than adults. “We’re hoping this means one of them can figure out the Drupal 8 API,” exclaimed Technical Lead/Senior Nanny Shea McKinney.

The initiative is expected to have significant impact on all aspects of ImageX’s business.
“I don’t see why we would keep focusing on higher education,” offered Marketing Coordinator Brett Burns, “when we’ll have immediate inroads into the lucrative diaper and burp cloth verticals.”

Participants in the OpenBaby Initiative are expected to reach Senior Developer level by age 5, at which point they will unfortunately need to be laid off so they can attend kindergarten. Negotiations are underway with Acquia for all OBI severance packages to include a co-branded Dries Buytaert teddy bear.

Photos used under Creative Commons license from Paul Inkles and Summer respectively.

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Mar 14 2012
Mar 14

Average: 4 (3 votes)

In part 1 of this post I shared how I got started on the line of thinking that we as a community are planting a lot of seeds, spreading the fertilizer, but not doing much tending to the Talent crops.  In the second part of this post, I’ll share just how some of the numbers support the ideas behind why newbie developers are having some issues crossing the gap, or, to go with the opening theme for this second post, blooming...

groups.drupal.org/job dataOnce a student has had some training, then what? Will they be able to find a job as a Drupal developer? Not likely. I looked at 120 consecutive job postings from February 16-25, 2012 on http://groups.drupal.org/jobs. Of these, exactly one was for a "junior developer" (actually, that's a lie, there was another that was looking for a "junior drupal developer" with "1+ years experience building enterprise-level solutions" - I put this seemingly contradictory posting in the "undetermined" category). 84 of the 120 posts were for experienced developers. These 84 posts used terms like "proven track record", "well-versed", "guru", and "senior" in their descriptions. There were 35 posts that I considered "undetermined" due mainly to vagueness and that fact that I only speak one language.

Experience gap with internsInternships are generally designed for students, as a way for them to get some initial hands-on experience. Assuming this is true, this helps close the experience gap.

But still, for the vast majority of new Drupal developers, the experience gap is a significant hurdle. Clearly, experienced Drupal developers are in high demand, but where are they coming from? The community is clearly providing more-and-more training opportunities every month, but are we also providing more internships and junior developer programs? AcquiaU (a training program combined with a junior-level job program) and the Myplanet fellowship program are the only two that I’m aware of.

Survey

As I started putting my thoughts down, I realized I didn't have any hard-data to back up anything I was saying about this experience gap - it was all anecdotal. Therefore, I put together a quick survey and posted it on Drupal Planet. 40 people responded to the survey in the short time it was available.

Survey resultsTwo-thirds of respondents have used either interns or junior developers in the past, but only one-third have a formal mentoring/training program in place (I’d love to hear more about these programs - please leave a comment below, contact me /contact, or post something on Drupal Planet!). Of those that have hired interns or junior developers in the past, two-thirds of those had a positive experience. So, out of the 40 respondents, only about 16 (about 40%) have had a positive experience with an intern or junior developer. These values were higher than I expected.

The survey also confirmed a portion of what I have witnessed personally working with DrupalEasy's interns and junior developers as well as my discussions with various DCSP employers: the time and resources required to train/mentor new Drupal talent is significant, and often underestimated.

To my surprise though, it also indicated that a majority of organizations of all sizes have utilized interns and/or junior developers in the past. I can only assume either or both of the following are true:

  1. The number of available internships and junior developer positions is dwarfed by number of available positions for experienced developers. For example, if all 18 DCSP participants immediately found full-time Drupal work, this would only satisfy about 1.5 days worth of “experienced” job postings on groups.drupal.org/jobs 
  2. Many of these positions are never publicly posted, the positions are filled using some other method. This wouldn't surprise me because I don't believe that DrupalEasy has ever posted a job posting, we generally find team members by word-of-mouth.  

Old Way

So, assuming that the number of available intern and junior developer positions is not enough to satisfy demand, how can we as a community ramp-up the number of experienced Drupal developers?

I think it is safe to say that a significant majority of the current expert-level experienced developers in the community (let's say those with a Drupal.org user account older than five years) crossed this experience gap on our own. Picking up small contracting and consulting gigs as we started off, then as our skills increased, the jobs got bigger, until we crossed the "I kick ass" threshold. Is this method sustainable?

More so, is this method possible for everyone currently crossing the "I suck" threshold? I think not. I'd argue that the skillset to be a successful contractor/consultant is not the same skillset as that of a Drupal developer. I believe that there are developers who have the potential to be Drupal development rockstars, but don't have the skillset to be contractors/consultants. Without a robust junior developer eco-system, how do these people cross the experience gap? One answer is more junior developer programs.

New Way

Drupal rockstarI think the Drupal community needs to make a concerted effort to develop junior developer positions (Jacob Singh’s session at DrupalCon Denver will be a good place to start). If we put in the same level of effort as we did to ramp-up classroom training opportunities, our task is complete. If we don't, then I fear that eventually, Drupal's crazy growth rate will slow due to the lack of experienced developer resources. Organizations of all sizes can profit from junior developers by having them perform tasks such as writing documentation, performing quality assurance, training clients, and other Drupal-related tasks commensurate with their current skill level. Drupal development shops (like DrupalEasy) need to decide if we're makers or takers. Do we want to just take Drupal rockstars, or do we also want to make Drupal rockstars?

I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I currently have 2 DCSP interns, and I plan on keeping them on as junior-level contractors when their internships are complete. It does take time and effort, but even for a smaller shop like ours, its worth it to nurture talent to help Drupal (and DrupalEasy) grow down the road. I also plan on providing junior-level contracting work for other DCSP graduates (shhh, don't tell them yet) and helping as many others as I can find contracting work via my contacts in the Drupal community.

Who's with me?

If you're heading to DrupalCon Denver, there will be a Drupal Workforce Development Programs BoF at 1pm Wednesday. 

Thanks to the following people for reviewing and providing input to this article: Ryan Price, Andrew Riley, Heather James, Jacob Singh, Chris Shattuck, Erich Ludwig, Don Vandemark, and Dave Terry.

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Mar 11 2012
Mar 11

Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Mind the GapIn an interview with TechRepublic, Dries Buytaeart said, "In some ways Drupal is a victim of its own success with demand for Drupal experts to build and support sites using the CMS currently outstripping supply. The biggest challenge that we have right now is scaling. The demand for Drupal is so high that we need more Drupal experts in the world."

As someone who manages and trains Drupal developers, I've been thinking why, with the current job shortage in the United States and abroad, the popularity of IT careers, and a good supply of Drupal training,  how we could have such a shortage? We as a community continually feel an ongoing lack of seasoned experts, and it is, by some accounts hurting the growth and development of the Drupal project. So what exactly is the issue that we as a community can identify?  And what can we do to improve things now so that the shortage is not an ongoing theme in the future of Drupal?  

So my thoughts turned into inspiration, which led to some research and a few ideas I thought I would share, along with a bit of a call to action.

I’ve divided this blog post into a two-part series that covers what prompted this line of thinking, how and where I went for a few answers and perspective, and how we can perhaps harness the power of the Drupal Community to help solve the issues.

Since these posts may a bit of a long read, I figured I’d start off a tl;dr version; the Drupal community is doing a great job of ramping up training programs for people interested in learning Drupal, but experience with a group of interns, some digging online, and a quick survey to test my perceptions demonstrates that there’s clearly more work to be done with junior developer programs to provide valuable (and often necessary) work experience to get people up to the  experienced developers level.  

My First A-Ha Moment

Drupal Career Starter Program graphicAs part of the Drupal Career Starter Program (DCSP), we took 18 skilled IT workers and spent 10 weeks (7 hours/week) teaching them the basics of Drupal site building. At the conclusion of the workshop session, we placed 15 of the students in internships with Drupal-related organizations around the country.

Now that some of the internships are coming to an end, we're seeing that a very small percentage of the interns are being offered full-time work by the organization that they interned with, and we're asking ourselves why. I believe that part of the issue was due to some lessons we learned since this was our first long-term training course, but it was also our first aha-moment that there’s is an important issue in the Drupal community that needs to be addressed: transitioning new developers to experienced developers.

Our 18 students were all recently laid-off workers from Kennedy Space Center. With the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, over 7,000 workers lost their jobs. A significant percentage of those were skilled IT workers, proficient in various platforms and languages, but very few of them with any working knowledge of Drupal or PHP. Through an application process, we selected 18 students (from 70 applicants).

As this was our first attempt at the DCSP, we were bound to make some mistakes - it is now our job to learn from them. Part of that learning process is to share our experience with the community. Clearly, we need to do better in a few key areas:

  1. Provide additional instruction on using version control systems (and how to utilize them to get a local version of a Drupal site up-and-running on a local machine under a variety of circumstances).  
  2. Provide additional instruction on using Drush.  
  3. Provide potential intern employers with additional structure and information about what would make for a good intern experience.  

I could also add that we trusted the Microsoft Windows environment too much, as we were witness to numerous (seemingly random) issues in getting local sites up-and-running and behaving. Of our 18 students, 17 were on Windows, and much classroom and internship time was spent dealing with all the issues (I've since discovered Drupal Quickstart and am falling in love...)

All of these items are fixable by us and will be addressed in future editions of the DCSP.

Experience Gap

The other issue is that the Drupal community has what I’m calling the "experience gap", where newly trained, but unexperienced developers are often left to fend for themselves.

Dries' Drupal Learning CurveBack in 2007, Dries Buytaert posted his take on the Drupal learning curve. This graphic has been referred to by many people in the Drupal community over the years since it was posted, so I'm going to borrow it to demonstrate my point.

Developers new to Drupal want to get to the "I kick ass" threshold. Once there, I'm assuming it is safe to say that these people can be considered experienced developers. For many new Drupal developers, the first step along the path is some sort of training. Whether it is self-taught, a <shamelessplug>commercial workshop</shamelessplug> (there are currently 12 commercial Drupal workshops listed on http://training.acquia.com/events alone), peer-based learning through meetups and camps, or any other form of training, more often than not, this is the beginning of the path. Let's call anyone at this beginning point "students".

Experience gapI'm guessing that for the vast majority of new Drupal developers, the time they spend on the "student" portion of the path is self-financed. Granted, there are some organizations that will pay developers to learn Drupal, but I'm assuming it's a small percentage, but I don’t have any hard facts to base this one, so let me know how wrong (or right) I am in the comments below.

Tomorrow I’ll publish part two of this post with some insight that came out of Drupal jobs research, conclusions that came out of survey responses, as well as a few ideas on how we can all help close the gap.

If you're heading to DrupalCon Denver, there will be a Drupal Workforce Development Programs BoF at 1pm Wednesday. 

Thanks to the following people for reviewing and providing input to this article: Ryan Price, Andrew Riley, Heather James, Jacob Singh, Chris Shattuck, Erich Ludwig, Don Vandemark, and Dave Terry.

"Mind the Gap" image from Pommiebastards http://www.flickr.com/photos/pommiebastards/4061144276/

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Feb 10 2012
Feb 10

New international projects, new office, and hiring!

Nuvole is going to add a couple of international projects and some advanced Open Atrium customization services for non-profit organizations to its portfolio in the coming months. And if you are a skilled Drupal Developer you can be involved too!

Our upcoming projects will require a stronger presence in Brussels, the place to be for every international organization in Europe. So, while still keeping our Italian headquarters and office unchanged, we've just expanded our Belgian office. The new office is located in ICAB, a modern business centre in Brussels close to the Flemish university: a place with a vibrant international student community, equipped with a gym, a swimming pool and pubs.

The new Brussels office was officially inaugurated with a reception last week (pictures below) and it will be the place where we meet with international clients and we develop the EU-funded projects Nuvole participates in, like:

  • Alfa Puentes (2011-2013): a three-year project for international cooperation between Latin America and Europe on educational matters.
  • Open Sounds: a Leonardo da Vinci project (2012-2013) for transnational cooperation in music production.
  • Higher Education Experts (2012-2013): a renewed version of our customized Open Atrium portal for European experts in Higher education.

Want to be involved? We welcome applications: if you are a skilled Drupal 6 and 7 developer, just see our job post and apply!

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Dec 01 2011
Dec 01

December 1st, 2011

My name is Maeghan, I am a Calgary born and raised girl on a mission since graduating from University called ProjectONE12. I am interning in ten companies in one hundred & twelve days across North America in search of my dream job. I had the opportunity to work at Fotolia in Calgary, Adobe MAX in LA, BBDO in Toronto, Dealmaker Media in San Francisco, Trico Charitable Foundation in Calgary and now at ImageX Media here in Vancouver! Since starting I have been featured in, Women 2.0, CTV Live TV, Toronto Star, Calgary Herald, and The Reflector.

My time at ImageX went by VERY quickly… I think that is because there was a lot of laughing, learning and foosball :) The job for the week was to help with some research and marketing efforts for the company, but a major portion of time was on answering the question “why is ImageX a great place to work”.

So I got to shoot a video!!!

ImageX Media has created some of the top websites in North America and specialize in Drupal development, which was something that I really enjoyed learning about. However what I really loved was the atmosphere they created in the office. Its a tech company, so its super casual and relaxed even in the way they interact as a team. They each work on their own project, but collaborate and discuss aloud what they are working on with the rest of the team. It was neat to hear them talk about things like… the vision they have for the site, how they want viewers to be able to interact and use the site… as well as what they wanted the overall experience to be like. The whole team worked together and would bring in different knowledge and expertise to each project and it was so refreshing to hear the developers take such pride in the work they produced. Another cool thing is all the employees are heavily involved in the community through volunteering, educating and speaking at different events. I love that! I think the idea of giving back is so important today, and it is refreshing to see that to the team of ImageX.. its not something they go out of their way to do, giving back is just a part of their every day life, which is something that I also try to do.

I think the thing that I enjoyed most about the team was the opportunity to be surrounded by people who love what they do. Everyone was so much fun to work with – so considerate and welcoming to share with me what they know, which was a big deal… because by no means am I a developer… sometimes I wish I could be.. I only know like two lines of code… but the team took the time to sit me down and tell me what they were working on, and asked for my help on non-technical aspects of their work.

The end of the week came fast… I think that is because i was laughing, learning and working hard the whole time I was there. But my boss Glenn treats the office to lunch on Fridays and the team let me pick the type of food I wanted for my goodbye lunch. We had a little pow-wow in the boardroom and I shared with them the adventures of this project so far as well as a blooper video I made for them.

My time with ImageX was really special, I think I felt the closest with these coworkers because I interviewed them and learn about what they do, what they love, and shared a lot of laughs :) I really felt like I made good friends there, and for that… I am super grateful.

Maeghan Smulders was having too much fun on the job at ImageX Media

Maeghan Smulders earns an iPad for her work at ImageX Media

Oct 25 2011
Oct 25

Let me introduce myself – I'm Steph, the newest member of the Ixis team. I've now completed 6 weeks in my new role as Business Development Manager at Ixis.

The directors have taken a leap of faith employing a non-techie to drive forward their thriving Drupal development, hosting and support business.

Although I was familiar with open source systems in a previous life I had only really dipped my toe into the world of Drupal. I must admit I was a little anxious that everyone would laugh at my amateur hour attempts to converse in Drupal speak, especially as my initiation test was to “go to London, set up and run an the Ixis sponsored exhibition stand at Drupalcon” – the national Drupal conference attended by 1500 people from 54 countries - an easy first day on the job then?!

However, I spent 4 days in the company of some of the most awe inspiring and creative people I could have hoped to meet, which was probably the best training I could have wished for and the whole event was a great success for the business and raising our brand profile.

I'm now picking up new techie terms every day, from Drush to Puppet and not forgetting the cURLS

Most recently, I've been working on proposals for our larger clients including the British Council, the British Epilepsy Association and launching TES Growing Ambitions.  

Its also been a hugely productive month in the hosting department, despite being a member of staff down there have been several new launches and lots of progress towards automating provisioning of new servers (hat tip to Peter L .)

Finally, I'm preparing the office ready for our new starters as the recent recruitment drive has been going well.  We are always on the look out for new staff members though so do keep in touch.

Here are some highlights of my first 6 weeks living in Drupal world:

  • Learning what its like to share an office with 8 techies

  • Meeting and speaking to our lovely clients

  • Seeing that despite the doom and gloom spread about the recession, that businesses who are ripe and ready for work can thrive

  • Meeting the lovely folk at Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus who constantly strive to support our businesses

  • Meeting Prince Andrew HRH who came to launch the new Enterprise Zone building Vanguard House

  • Attending T-Shirts and Suits coffee morning hosted by David Parish at the beautiful new Leaf Cafe on Bold Street

  • Seeing Mike C – one of our directors being interviewed for BBC Granada news

  • Rallying the team to take part in “organised fun” including quiz nights and our contribution to the British Epilepsy Association tea party charity fundraiser

  • Eating my body weight in biscuits whilst introducing the team to my weird and wonderful tea collection

I'm now looking forward to planning how I can continue to drive forward the Ixis business plan and get more enthusiastic developers, site technicians and linux sys administrators through the door as we try to keep up with demand.

So this time in 6 weeks whilst you are warming your mince pies by the fire getting ready for Santa to bring you one of our Druplicon Stress Balls, I'll still be dreaming of a Drupal Christmas.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web