Upstatement’s long-running apprenticeship program is one of our favorite parts of the job. We’re often asked how the program works, why we do it, and what an apprentice can expect. Engineering manager Beatrice Huang is here with the answers.

Most of us at Upstatement had internships back when we were starting out. Some were great. Some consisted of fetching coffee. And many of our experiences were unpaid. So when we designed our own Upstatement apprenticeship program, we set out to improve upon our own experiences and create a program that’s mutually beneficial for both apprentice and company.

Why We Hire Apprentices

Our goal is for every apprentice to gain real-world skills and experience. They have roles on client projects just like a full-time employee would (with some extra support), and they get paid. 🤑

Upstatement benefits, too. We get a helping hand on projects. Our full-time employees get the opportunity to develop their mentorship, teaching, and management skills. And we’re happy to help make the agency world a bit more accessible to people from diverse backgrounds. Our apprentices have varied—we’ve had recent college grads, high school graduates who attended boot camps, and people making later-in-life career changes.

It’s fun to watch our apprentices continue to grow after they leave Upstatement. Every once in a while, we’re even able to hire former apprentices as full-time employees.

Working at an Agency

It’s great to work in tech, but for someone just starting out, a product company doesn’t provide as much opportunity as an agency setting can.

Rather than working on small aspect of a product, Upstatement engineers work across a range of technologies. In fact, a lot of the work we do is ‘greenfield,’ meaning that part of the job is to determine the best tech to use.

A key aspect of an agency job is communication. Everyone, including apprentices, communicates regularly with our clients and across company departments like design, business, and project management. It’s a chance to grow a skill that will serve you in many areas of your life and career, and we encourage apprentices to push themselves by handling client calls and fielding questions in Slack. We’re always there for backup!

Another big perk to agency work: the portfolio pieces. Typically, apprentices are able to walk away with one finished project under their belt and can point to a live site they helped launch.

Check out some projects that our apprentices have contributed to:

Working at Upstatement

We want every apprentice to go on to find a rewarding job. We remember what it was like to be hunting for our early, entry-level jobs with little experience. It was hard to know what exactly we wanted, and when we did find job listings that seemed appealing, it was difficult to prove our knowledge. The apprenticeship program is designed to make that job hunt less painful and more productive.

To give our apprentices a boost, we have a personal development support structure in place:

  • Resumé reviews
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Goal-setting sessions
  • Performance reviews
  • Peer mentorship and project support

In addition to apprentice-specific support, Upstatement’s culture in general is one of kindness and collaboration. That means:

  • We work with clients we respect, who have interesting ideas and are doing good for the world.
  • Make a mistake? No one is going to yell, and no one is going to get mad. We’ll figure out how to fix it together.
  • We know how to work together across skill levels. One of our favorite approaches is pair programming. We love it so much we wrote a blog post about it.

For a closer look at what the day-to-day experience of an apprentice can be like, check out our apprentice Lauren’s ongoing diary.

Let us know if you have any questions, and keep an eye out for future apprenticeship job openings! We’d love to work together.