We recently had a virtual cup of coffee with Jamshed Vesuna, an Engineering Manager on the Payments Team, to learn more about a new program he helped launch — Engineering Bootcamp, the department’s onboarding program for new hires.
New Robinhoodies go through Engineering Bootcamp. What does that mean?
At Robinhood, our people are our largest advantage and most valuable asset. In order to build the products, and the infrastructure we’re planning over the years to come, we need to scale our teams. And as we thought about hiring, and providing the best experience for new Robinhoodies, we decided to rebuild the onboarding process from the ground up — focusing on the three key themes: learning experience, community building, and purposeful team matching.
You mentioned three key themes, let’s dig into those.
1. The Learning Experience
First, we start at the company level for onboarding, which encompasses several topics — product roadmap, company history, and the financial domain, to name a few. From there, engineers spend two weeks diving deep into our systems architecture and developer tools through a series of interactive talks and self-paced courses. The team will also go over the Robinhood-specific tooling and terminology that help engineers build robust, scalable systems in safe testing environments.
As Robinhood engineering has matured, we’ve begun leveraging tools and approaches at the forefront of learning systems design to create engaging onboarding courses that range from basic concepts to advanced platforms. For example, as a Safety First company, we built Apollo, where any developer can spin up their own end-to-end Robinhood environment for testing, completely isolated from other environments. As this has become a critical part of any development workflow, we’ve created a self-guided interactive Apollo course to get engineers up to speed and contributing to code:
We have additionally developed a series of self-paced, interactive code labs that dive deep into commonly used languages, frameworks, and the development process at Robinhood. Code labs allow new hires to gain hands-on experience with key abstractions and technologies, and provide effective guidance in a fast feedback loop — all in a safe and controlled environment. Our in-house code lab platform utilizes isolated kubernetes deployments for each new hire and creates an easy way for anyone to create content, mock environments, and tests.
This platform has not only made our onboarding more immersive, but it has raised the bar for how we learn and teach new concepts within engineering. Now, one of the best ways to introduce a new framework or pattern across the company is to create a self-guided code lab for everyone to play with — way better than static (and let’s face it, boring) documentation.
2. Community Building
A core part of Robinhood’s ethos is our diverse community and open culture. Onboarding creates an incredible opportunity for new hires to get to know each other, meet with leadership, and add to our vibrant community.
New Robinhoodies are paired with dedicated mentors, who are deeply invested in the success of every engineer. Throughout onboarding, new team members will meet with their mentors in 1:1s as a safe environment to ask questions and smoothly navigate through the team matching process.
We also have a series of mixers, games (even some zoom ice breakers!), and group events that offer the opportunity to collaborate on code labs, and help each other debug.
Our leadership team also plays a key role during onboarding experience. All new Robinhoodies hear from leaders within the organization including a special introduction to engineering by Surabhi Gupta, Robinhood’s VP of engineering, and also attend a fireside chat with Baiju Bhatt, one of our co-founders and the Chief Creative Officer.
3. Team Matching
Part of the onboarding process involves team matching, where new hires have the opportunity to select the team they’re joining at Robinhood. This allows more time to learn about teams by meeting engineers, exploring roadmaps, observing team meetings, and getting a broader overview of a team before committing. Through this process, we’re able to promote our top business priorities, and assign engineers to teams, who need them most. With this approach, we’re able to streamline the interview process, which is beneficial on both sides.
How will you know this program has been successful?
We take the same approach to onboarding as we do with product development; listen to our customers, in this case, new hires. After every onboarding class, we field a survey and meet with the cohort of mentors that participated to brainstorm how we can improve the experience for the next class. This feedback has guided several improvements to our onboarding program including, improving the way we deliver content and how we run team matching.
How can someone find more information about the program?
Great question! We’re always looking for more engineers, who share our commitment to building a diverse team and creating an inclusive environment as we continue in our journey in democratizing finance for all. Check out our Software Engineer and Senior Software Engineer roles — we can’t wait to hear from you!
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