Greg Gomel is an Agile consultant and a veteran of the Coast Guard Reserve. So when he and fellow Agile consultant Ravi Verma were brainstorming earlier this year about what they could do to help military veterans it wasn’t surprising their minds turned to Agile software development.
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“We wanted to do something that would improve their employment opportunities,” Gomel explained. The result was Agile for Patriots, a not for profit organization based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that gives veterans free intensive prep so they can sit for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master training test.
Although the duo were inspired by coding boot camps, they decided to take a different tack. “The biggest obstacle in dealing with companies that need to hire a Scrum Master is they want multiple years of experience,” Gomel explained. “We really wanted to provide some shadowing opportunities to help veterans get more experience under their belt to overcome that obstacle.”
So they decided to offer two days of intensive Scrum Master training, followed by two one week practice sprints and ending with presentations in front of actual hiring managers. Gomel reached out to another Dallas area veteran’s opportunity group, Allies in Service, and had them actually “vet” the veterans for the Scrum Master training program. Honorably discharged veterans with some kind of IT experience in their background were approached and in the end around 55 sat through a one-day orientation. Sixteen veterans went through the professional Scrum Master training and 10 received their certificates and went on to the two one-week sprints and presentation time in front of actual hiring managers.“That really matched our initial expectations,” Gomel said. “We were really pleased.”
But he’s also realistic that those few weeks aren’t going to be enough, by themselves, to make a substantial career change. “The certificate is going to get you in the door but it’s not going to get you the job,” he said. Instead the emphasis was on looking for “shadowing” and volunteer opportunities to give veterans as much hands on experience as possible so they have a good story to tell when interviewing.
Agile for Patriots is planning to offer another session in February 2018, again in the Dallas area. “We’re going to continue to help them try to align themselves for the highest probability of success.”