AUTHOR
Miloš Felix

Etnetera Mobile Academy: How We Learned to Teach

The first ever Etnetera Mobile Academy took place here in spring. What was it all about? Together with Jan Čislinský, Petr Urban, Jiří Zoudun and Jakub Nižaradze we tried the role of mentors and taught 13 great students to develop apps in Swift for iOS platform. Last but not least, we found a new colleague.

Why did we decide to devote Saturdays to programming lessons?

We first talked about the academy in the mobile division back in 2016. We lacked a greater connection with the mobile developer community and the opportunity to share our experience and know-how. At the time, we were deciding whether to go the education route or focus on community building instead. We chose community building and together with Avast and Ackee we launched mDevTalk – regular meet-ups of mobile developers, which are still running every two months and enjoy great interest.

Eventually, however, we decided to organise an academy. We are also affected by the long-term shortage of people in IT and mobile development and we thought that we could make contact with junior developers or laymen interested in mobile development within the academy and maybe find new colleagues. We also have a senior team whose experience the development community can draw on, and we decided to make the most of it.‍


Unfortunately, none of us had any experience in teaching or mentoring. That's why we started preparing for the new role under the guidance of Hana Horáková, who has already worked with several teams from the company in the area of presentation skills and soft skills. With us, she also focused on learning methodology. During four sessions together, she helped us finalise the concept and prepare us for the difficult moments that awaited us in front of the projector.

Will anyone be interested at all?

Having prepared so thoroughly, we naturally began to worry whether we would be able to generate enough interest. We informed about the academy through our social media, an article on the CzechCrunch website and in an old-school way: with posters at selected universities in Prague. In the end, we had more than 200 registered applicants to choose from.

The selection was made in two rounds. The first round was the application itself, in the second round the candidates had to come to our office at Etnetera for an in-person interview. We met with a total of 33 applicants from which we selected 16 students. Due to the fact that the interest was so high, it was possible to put together a course mostly from candidates who already had some experience with programming or development.

The lessons started early in the morning, which was challenging not only for us but also for the students. That's why we put a lot of emphasis on motivation. We managed to put together a group that worked together really well. The students were up at eight in the morning, working hard and doing all the homework assignments. We were available to each of them for consultations during the week, which some of them made use of.

The students have become a great team during the course and we have really grown close to them. I think that also had an impact on how enthusiastic we all were. We solved many tasks together in the pub over a beer. One student commuted to us from Děčín and two from as far as Brno! The best homework was produced by a mom of two young children who probably had the least peace to do it.

The course was successfully completed by 13 participants. We offered a job to the three of them, but we are still in contact with the others. Thanks to the time we spent together, we managed to transmit the magic of Etnetera to the students, and I believe that we will meet again professionally.

Compliments in conclusion

The academy was a tremendous experience for us and I consider it a great success. In the satisfaction questionnaire that students filled out at the end of the course, they only complained about the air conditioning, which ran in weekend mode, and the lack of salty snacks. :) The academy has given us a lot too and has moved us forward tremendously. Not only that, we also found a new colleague whom we already know and know that he will like it in our company. I have also found out that I have some talented mentors on my team who have really discovered it is their gift to teach others.

Although we are satisfied with the first round, everything did not go completely smoothly. We had no idea how much time the academy would take. Very quickly we built bonds with the students and engaged with them beyond our original plans - it was simply impossible to say no. But that doesn’t mean we want to stop at the first round. Quite the opposite. Follow our social media so you don't miss out on the next rounds of Etnetera Mobile Academy!

The final party was bottom-less, meaning without shoes…. On the picture, Milan Čáp and Petr Urban give each other a high five from the bottom.

What the participants themselves said about Etnetera Mobile Academy?

I am really grateful that I got a chance to go through the Mobile Academy. I gained not only new knowledge, but also confidence that I can keep up with experienced programmers if I want to. I am glad I don't have to get up at four o’clock in the morning anymore, but I will miss you all.

- Martina


A big thank you to all mentors, classmates and of course Etnetera. I never thought I could learn so much in 2 months. Organisation, study materials, curriculum, homework... for everything I give you straight A’s.

- Dorota


I liked the openness of the mentors, their willingness to explain and help, and to open us up to practical insights into iOS development. They facilitated the perfect atmosphere and picked awesome classmates.

- Michal

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