The Ideal New Starter Curriculum

Things to learn in your first month of a new tech job


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The Ideal New Starter Curriculum

Let's imagine a company called AwesomeCo, which has a product called Productify. This article is my conception of the sort of document I would like to receive on my first day as a new software developer at AwesomeCo (joining the Productify product team). Managers and mentors, please consider this as a starting point in your preparation for receiving new joiners to your team in future.

The Ideal Productify New Starter Curriculum

Originally written for my company's intranet, July 2020.

Productify New Starter: Training Checklist and Curriculum

This document aims to provide you with a simple way for you to track your training over your two months at AwesomeCo. You'll get a briefing from your mentor/manager on how to best use it but here are some key points to remember:

  • It is always OK to ask questions & generally to not know something!
  • If particular styles of learning (e.g. reading, videos, tutorials) are more effective for you, then discuss with your mentor and swap the tasks out for ones that are more suitable.
  • Completing this checklist doesn't imply that your training period is over, training is something that we will always commit significant amounts of time to at AwesomeCo. This checklist is just a good place to start from.
  • This list is not in priority order. You should discuss with your mentor which things are most important to do first.


Below gives a rough guide for items to be completed over your first few months.

First Day

  • Welcome lunch, introduction to wider office.
  • Tour of office including shower/toilets, kitchen facilities, secretarial staff, nearby amenities, office alarm system.
  • Set up your work laptop, including code editor and Dev VM if needed.
  • Introduction to mentor and management line.
  • Social session with other new/recent starters

First Week

  • New starter timetable for first three days of work: this should outline a number of organized workshops and meetings which should cover some of the items in this list.
  • Check off everything on the Productify "On-boarding: First week" checklist, a paper copy of this should have been given to you by your mentor.
  • Make sure you've skimmed through the Productify learning, training and development resources in your first week. As you come across useful training resources - please update the intranet articles/post on internal communication channels/keep your own list to share.
  • Preparation to join scrum processes: Design a Jira/Github dashboard that displays the current Sprint [with a link to your first Jira task/New starter story] - ready to be used in stand-up on day 3.
  • HR tasks - compliance training, contact details, whereabouts, next-of-kin info.
  • Who’s who in the company (AwesomeCo product areas, heads of engineering, CEO etc)
  • Get set up with new laptop
  • Meet and greet with team members, ice-breaker activity.
  • Learn about employee groups that might be of interest, e.g. parents and carers' group, Womxn at AwesomeCo group (be offered a secondary mentor from one of these groups, if desired)
  • Learn about Productify from the customer facing manuals.
  • Agree with your mentor the best order to approach the Application Development and Technology/Theory tasks below.

Second Week

  • C-programming tasks [links to team project board]
  • Python programming tasks [links to team project board]

Photos: CC BY 3.0 US Mapbox Uncharted ERG

Application Development

This section aims to takes you through the basics of having a problem, producing some code to solve it, putting that code somewhere where it can run and then making sure that it's running properly.

General Programming

  • Algorithms & Data Structures
    • Complete unless you've covered this topic at university/somewhere else (you may want to start with the basic Python/C course first)
      • Python
        • Using a Pluralsight free trial to go through
        • Complete Python Programming Exercise: WORDS and have your code reviewed by your mentor (and then by your tech lead)
        • Consider using the 'Top Trumps' exercise.
      • C
        • Ask your mentor for which chapters of the K+R book you should read.
        • Some explanatory videos on more complicated topics can be found here.
        • Write a "Top Trumps" style game in C.


  • What is Productify?
    • What is Productify?
    • Find more resources here: [links]
      • Productify in networks
        • Read the Productify Network Integration guide: [link]
      • Learn about Productify’s CLI
        • Read the introduction sections of the CLI reference: [link]
        • Book a Productify on [internal booking system], log onto it and play with the CLI, using the reference guide.
        • Can you configure a new user?
        • Can you configure x?
      • Learn how to get diagnostics from Productify
        • Navigate the craft menu
        • Learn some cheat commands: [link]
      • Learn how to upgrade Productify and apply an efix


Git basics

Docker and Gitlab CI/CD training – to be researched by you.


Why is testing important?

  • Read The Testing Manifesto [link]

    Test strategy

  • Work through Test Strategy [link]
  • Write a test plan for a work item (link examples here) and get it reviewed by an experienced engineer.

    Productify test frameworks

  • Framework 1 (unit tests)
    • Have a look in your codebase for examples of these
    • Learn how to run a test and read the results
  • Framework 2 (integration tests)
    • Learn about framework 2: [link to documentation]
    • Find a test suite and trace the keywords back to the underlying infrastructure code written in Python.
    • Run a single test, a suite of tests and tests with certain tags.
    • Look at the test log
    • Find internal trace for the tests you ran.
  • Live testing
    • Learn how to run end-to-end test scripts


This section aims to give you a basic grounding in computers, networks & various technologies that will come up in conversation time and time again as an engineer.

Linux (CentOS 7)

  • Get familiar with basic Linux commands by doing Linux Survival
  • This article (link) lists some helpful Unix and AwesomeCo specific commands.
  • For complete UNIX novices, this tutorial takes you through the basics of UNIX shell syntax.

Networking and Protocols

Photos: CC BY 3.0 US Mapbox Uncharted ERG

Infrastructure and Tools

This section covers a more detailed look at how we in Productify do our day-to-day work. By the end of it you should be familiar with the concepts and have some confidence in how the platform hangs together and how to make changes.

Writing code


  • Complete course/read documentation

    Sublime / VSCode / Code Editor

  • Learn editor shortcuts [LINK]
  • Be able to navigate the Productify codebase

Productify work flow

  • Read about the Productify Development process [link]
  • Git branching strategies
    • Understand Git first!

      Code review

  • Understand why it is important to get your code reviewed
  • Write some code and get it reviewed using Reviewboard, or GitLab (whatever platform you use here)


  • General debugging theory
  • Practise debugging some simple Python, after learning some Python basics.



  • Read the Agile Manifesto
  • Find out what scrum ceremonies your team implements, and how their sprints work.
  • Go to another team's scrum ceremonies and make notes on how they are different.



The Productify release schedule

Using Slack/Discord

  • Ask your mentor which channels you should join.

    Using Zoom/Video Conferencing software

  • Book a meeting with your mentor using your email calendar and link it to a video meeting.
  • Look up someone you’ve never spoken to before and video call them.

    SFR/Bug system

  • Find out if there are any bugs assigned to your team for the upcoming release
  • Read about the bug raising process: [link]

    PRD/product requirements system

    Kit booking process


  • How to create an article
  • Where to find useful articles

    The holiday system, Whereabouts system, Company directory

  • book your first day's holiday

Photos: CC BY 3.0 US Mapbox Uncharted ERG

AwesomeCo in general

  • Resource about other AwesomeCo products: [link]

Extra resources:

  • Link
  • Link

Photos: CC BY 3.0 US Mapbox Uncharted ERG