The Shoes of a PHP trainer

The Shoes of a PHP trainer

We’re halfway through our annual pre-employment training and already our trainees proved an astonishing dedication to the program. So far, they’ve covered the basics of PHP, but there’s still plenty left to digest and the rhythm is intense, to say the very least. Between coffees and coding, there’s a lot of enthusiasm roaming around, which is great and we intend to keep it like that.

From our experience, one way to secure a high level of enthusiasm and involvement is to expose the trainees to different styles of teaching and relating. By doing so, they can get accustomed to various approaches and think critically about whatever issue that may arise. It helps to have a team of trainers that’s just as eager to be part of the project.

This year’s mix comprises both senior developers and former trainees, who thought of this as the best way to pay forward what they’ve gain in their turn. Blending the technical expertise with the insight of being the learner led to a balanced synergy in the teaching process, which for us is basically a recipe for success.

For you to get a grasp of what’s it like to be in the teacher’s shoes, we’ve asked our trainers about their motivation, expectations and the experience as a whole. Although it’s hard to put into words, somehow they’ve managed. Here’s a selection of our favourite answers.

What motivates you to get involved in the pre-employment training?

V: During my time spent at university I’ve always found myself thinking of ways to improve the teaching and assessing process. Given the high number of skilled trainers participating to this internship and the numerous meetings we had in order to organise it, I found that this is the perfect opportunity to validate my view on teaching.

D: There are a series of things that motivate me to get involved, the most important being to see the trainees' faces lighten up because they've just got an answer to one of their questions during one of my presentations. Although delivering lectures and answering their questions is an energy consuming job, I leave the training room every time knowing I genuinely helped professionals at the beginning of their career. It makes me feel good that I contributed with my bits of distilled knowledge and experience to their journey.

A: I’ve experienced the training from both sides: as an intern three years ago and as a trainer last year. Both roles have been very rewarding, so it would actually be hard to discourage me from getting involved with the project :)

How does the experience benefit you?

C: This practice reminds me that fancy frameworks are build on top of the bare-bones language and one should understand the basics before taking on more complex approaches. Also it's extremely rewarding to witness the progress of people that have not really faced the challenges of working in a larger company.

A: This experience helps me to learn and apply different training skills and also learn more about how to improve myself in terms of training delivery. For me, it is a continuous professional developing process.

A: I get to review things I already know (or think I know) and learn new things from the interns. They are (obviously) not blank slates, they bring their own knowledge and experience to the mix, so the only challenge is to create a context that encourages them to share that with you.

D: Forgetting is a natural process, therefore we, as professionals, need to go through even the basic concepts from time to time so that we don't forget the essentials. I've surprised myself a lot of times with how many things I thought I knew, but in fact I've forgotten. Therefore, for me, preparing for a course for the trainees is always an opportunity to get back to the basics and refresh my knowledge on various subjects.

What are your expectations from the trainees? Do you have any advice for them?

R: To be dedicated and willing to learn new stuff.

V: Apart from the technical knowledge that one could expect from someone to acquire in such a program, I hope they learn that maintainable, scalable and good quality code, even though mandatory, is just one of many aspects in the everyday life of a developer. How you play your role in a team, from communicating with others to your attitude towards the projects has as much impact, if not greater at times, as the code we write. It’s rare to have access to such a big and versatile team of trainers focused entirely on you and your learning process in the safe environment that this training provides. My advice is to fully take advantage of it.

C: If I were to go through this process now, I'd exhaust every opportunity of learning things about my future employment life. And because I wouldn't be alone in this (I'd have both trainee colleagues and trainers), I'd look at those people as colleagues at day, beer buddies in the evening.

A: Enjoy the ride. Be curious and take advantage of every moment and chance in order to learn something new from the people around you.

A: Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. And always use the smallest data type that you don’t think you’ll exceed for database columns.

We can only speak for ourselves, but we enjoyed seeing things from our trainers’ perspective and really appreciate their dedication. Stay close, we’ll get to the trainees next.


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