Associate developer onboarding program

Here’s a quick summation of why you should consider an associate developer onboarding program:

For more specifics, read Elle’s post on her work with the Qantas Hotels Engineering Academy and her write-up of a conference talk on starting your own.

Elle joined Qantas Hotels to help us establish what is becoming a very successful Engineering Academy. The process of assessing needs then designing and delivering the programme was incredibly thorough; from the interview process to the thoughtful curriculum which is tailored for Qantas Hotels and is full of sound engineering principles and practices.

As well as excellent attention to detail, quality of work and communication, the most surprising thing about working with Elle and Blackmill are the benefits you get in addition to the stated project or programme. In our case this was a modelled interview process designed to be inclusive and objective but also efficient.

I highly recommend working with Elle and Blackmill and would be happy to expand on this recommendation in person.

Stu Liston , Head of Engineering at Qantas Hotels



Who are you?

A company owner or engineering manager at a Ruby and/or Rails shop who wants to build a talent pipeline to grow the company. Senior management support is vital to ensure you spend the time and money consciously.

A small to medium size startup or company, with an engineering team who is dedicated and invested in the success of the program.

An enterprise organisation that is establishing your developer apprenticeship or internship program for graduates or workforce re-skilling.

You have 1-2 mid-level developers who are interested in working with and mentoring juniors. Alternatively, you can either hire a mid-level developer as part of this program, or we can provide our own developer to join your team for three months at an additional cost.


  1. We work with you and the team to define what success looks like for you and for the new hires.
  2. You find and hire the candidates you want to work with. Or Lookahead can help. They have worked with us to structure this initiative, and can source the right candidates for you.
  3. We help the team prepare to welcome and work with the Associate Developers.
  4. Before they start with the team, we work with the Associate Developers for one week, to introduce common development team workflows.
  5. Following this week, the new hires are embedded into your development team, and participate in usual team practices and development processes. They report to their respective team lead(s).
  6. We train the Associate Developers for 20% of their work time for 12 weeks.
  7. Associate Developers attend weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with their team leads. They also have weekly personal one-on-ones with their team leads to ensure they are on track based on their learning and development goals.
  8. We have regular check-ins with the engineering manager to ensure the program is going according to plan.


Blackmill works with your associate developers one day a week for three months to cover a mutually agreed curriculum. Here is a Trello board of subjects and materials we have covered in the past. The mid-level developers will serve as mentors and pairs for the Associate Developers. Their relatively recent history as new developers themselves helps them identify and solve common problems easily.



Training fee to Blackmill of 20% annual salary of the Associate Developers

This program adds up to four competent loyal developers to your team at a comparable cost to headhunting a single senior developer. It diversifies your team and improves retention. The structure shapes your development team environment to be more supportive for new developers, mitigates the costs of integrating them, and lets everyone do better work, write better code, and create better products.

Contact us to chat how to fit this program to your needs

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