Zero to React Ready

In Brief

Who: Nav, Inc

What: Custom Technical Training

Where: Draper, UT

Nav's new curriculum brings human-centered instruction to technical training

For a company trying to modernize their infrastructure, it is difficult to find training that includes the existing technical architecture. Like other startups, Nav's engineering team runs the gamut of seniority, and there simply isn't enough hours in the day for senior engineers to mentor the team. Working with Nav engineering, I created React Ready, a set of custom training modules that both taught the foundations of React and Redux and connected the theory to the everyday tools and technologies in use at Nav. Today, Nav has migrated the majority of their frontend framework to React, and React Ready serves as a reference and training piece for new hires.

Exploration

With such a diverse range of engineering ability, it was important from the outset to sit down with every learner and work to understand both their instructional needs and their expectations for the training. For the most junior engineers, there was a need to cover React fundamentals including the JSX compiler, while senior engineers were looking for guidance on how to mentor & grow the team around them. Any training created needed to serve the former, while serving as a launching point for the later.

During exploration, another key insight was found. At Nav, the proprietary technologies that were used to originally enable React development were adding complexity for the learners. This meant that the most effective instruction not only needed to address these home grown systems, but also needed to contain a solution for addressing these tools.

Creation

After a few iterations and gut checks, it was time to build out React Ready. Because of the diverse set of learners, I decided early on that we needed to create personalized instruction sessions for the junior engineers. This not only helped lift their skill level, but ensured that any group training we did would be more effective for everyone. With the need to also address the proprietary hurdles we discovered during Exploration, three tracks were created:

  • Group training that focused on teaching engineers React & Redux fundamentals
  • Individualized instruction that helped both senior and junior engineers meet their learning goals
  • Architectural guidance that reduced complexity of proprietary technology on the critical path

Integration

Over four weeks, I worked with Nav to deliver individualized training, with a day-long sessions at the beginning and end of the training period. In between the sessions, I met with the senior engineers and architects to discuss the proprietary technology that was causing learning challenges. Together, we laid out a plan for the next generation of internal tools that would mirror the interfaces of common open source applications.

For the group training, both sessions leveraged product features in development on the Nav Technologies site. In the second session, pairs of engineers implemented and used several core pieces of the Nav proprietary technology as part of the hands-on learning modules, deepening their understanding of the existing tools.

He designed a program based on the needs of my team that include classroom study, take home materials, one on one mentoring, and pairing. It was personal, and pitch perfect. In the end it was the exact shot in the arm our team needed to level up.
-- Scott Schlegel, VP of Engineering at Nav, Inc

Upon conclusion of the training, Nav took possession of the training materials, notes, research, and the individualized learning plans for every engineer that participated in the training sessions. This not only gave them the materials to onboard new engineers, but the tools to grow their existing engineering team beyond the training.