Connect: Airbnb’s Engineering Apprenticeship Program

Ok...I apologize in advance for linking to something that's clearly Airbnb engineering recruitment propaganda (gosh those photos are good!). But this is a much-under-discussed topic and I think there's actually quite a lot to learn here.

There are two human problems that come up _all the time_ in our field: 1) there are insufficient humans with relevant skills industry-wide, and 2) there is a real diversity problem. Apprenticeship programs have the potential to help with both.

There's a lot to say here, I'll hit a couple of quick bullets and then encourage you to read the rest for yourself:

  • An apprenticeship program is different than an internship program. The wording choice is intentional and I love it. Internships are a form of finishing school for already-credentialed candidates, whereas apprenticeships aim to forge mature tradespeople from amazing raw materials. Most companies have internship programs, not apprenticeship programs.
  • My belief is that most companies don't do this because they don't have the freedom or willingness to think long-term. A program like this is a real investment of time more than it is an investment in money—it will take a minute for apprentices to become real contributors. But long-term thinking is the only way to build real moats for your business.

This is about software engineering but it is equally relevant for data. What would it take for your company to start an apprenticeship program?


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