Breaking Ground 2023 | College New Hire Program

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As new teammates, college new hires take part in UDig’s “Breaking Ground” training program, a six-week crash course designed to help get them up-to-speed on UDig’s delivery approach within a project team.  

The Breaking Ground program covers…   

  • UDig delivery processes and methodologies such as gathering requirements, designing application architectures, and delivering projects using agile practices 
  • Technical guidance and instruction on best practices from development leads at UDig  
  • Delivering executive and technical presentations 
  • Coaching in preparation for success on new hire’s first client project at UDig 

A typical day for the Breaking Ground team might entail…  

  • Project stand-ups and check-ins   
  • Application development 
  • Planning and participating in project demos and backlog grooming 
  • Contributing to internal UDig projects 
  • Career and job growth through UDig-provided training 
  • Creating long-lasting friendships with teammates through fun activities as well as on project teams 

This summer’s Breaking Ground team consists of Devin Pendse (University of Virginia) and Parker Colson (George Mason University), who started in January 2023, and Anthony Lee (Vanderbilt University) and Keelan Bell (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) who started in June 2023.

The team is led by the UDig Delivery Lead and Technical Leads, Matt Wright, Nancy Zhang, Hannah Dorney, Zachary Showalter, and Zachary Dorris. Each Lead has spent ample time with the group as they help to work through ideas, identify next steps, and provide advice along the way. Special thanks to Michael Bradshaw, who helped greatly with planning and the final push. 

Now, let’s hear from the team… 

Our first few weeks in the Breaking Ground program were spent working through introductory and onboarding meetings. Once we got settled, we began daily stand-ups at 9:30. After standup each morning, we were free to work on extraneous tasks such as building our application and reaching out to different tech leads when we needed help.  

We’ve found that in the afternoon, it’s beneficial to hop on a group call as a team to work together. Even if we’re not talking or problem solving with each other, it’s a great way to help our productivity.  

This summer, the Breaking Ground team is working on a company retargeting campaign to support UDig’s marketing efforts. The goal is to gather data on visitors to UDig’s website, then filter those visitors by what they do on the site, whether they be potential clients or looking to learn more about what we do. Once we gather this information, we send it to LinkedIn to an audience in the Advertising platform for the marketing team to utilize in their marketing efforts.  

Our final demo will demonstrate everything we’ve done throughout the program. After our demo, we will graduate from Breaking Ground and be placed onto UDig project teams. 

Of course, along the way, we’ve been met with various challenges that constantly keep us on our toes. We’ve had several challenges getting access to the APIs we need; to address challenges such as this, we must use creative backup plans and remember to keep troubleshooting.  

‘Own your path’ has been a big part of our training here at UDig. When it comes to problem solving, we are in total control of the path we take to find a solution. Everyone at UDig is super willing to help, even folks who aren’t assigned to the project are willing to lend a hand if they have time. Nancy and Matt, two senior consultants here, have been hopping on our group calls recently to answer any questions we may have. It’s neat to work for a company that is so open to helping each of its employees succeed at any level.   

At the end of each week, we have a retrospective meeting with the Delivery Lead where we discuss what went well throughout the week, and what could have been done better. We also take time to set goals aligned by effort for the following week. These weekly meetings allow us to improve as consultants before going out into the real world. We’ve been encouraged by our mentors to ask a thousand questions, no matter what. Having an open line of communication with people who have years more experience than us has been a frontline advantage for getting our work done on time and correctly. 

A key aspect of this program is to help us smoothly transition from an educational setting to a professional work environment. The environment at UDig is much different than what we were all used to in college. In our college courses, we didn’t work with other people most of the time. Now, we conduct client-facing meetings, complete demos, gather requirements, and more. There’s a lot more talking and communication that has to happen in a professional setting versus in an educational setting.  

Unlike college, here, we’re being trained in real-world application rather than theoretical algorithms. We feel productive at UDig. It’s key to understand that each person on the team will get their work done, this was a pill that was much harder to swallow in college. We know that we can trust each other and hold each other accountable, because we all want to be here. Additionally, the flexibility we’re allowed as new hires is a virtue given how many times we’ve had to change course because something didn’t go as planned.  

Time management in a professional setting is completely different than time management in college. Rather than balancing five different classes and a busy daily schedule, we must learn to complete simple tasks early on to make our lives easier in the long run. Getting this experience in Breaking Ground is important because we will be able to hit the ground running as Associates.  

A favorite aspect of the program has been the community that has come out of it. Yes, we still feel new, but UDig has done an amazing job of getting us involved in the company culture. Not to mention we have bonded over the course of the program as we work together each day on our project. Breaking Ground has made the transition into working a full-time job nearly effortless. Plus, it’s rewarding to know that we are working on a project that will positively benefit UDig as a whole.  

One of the most valuable lessons we have learned throughout our training is to reach out. In the beginning, we wanted to do everything ourselves because we thought we could. Quickly, we learned that it’s much easier to talk with someone who has experience, rather than try and solve a complex problem by ourselves.  

UDig is accelerating our success by giving us the communication skills necessary to be successful in the workforce. This is the start of our career; we must learn to absorb as much as possible. Because UDig is a consulting company, it provides a prime learning opportunity as we are able to work with many different types of people on various projects for various clients – the more experiences, the better.  


About The Author

Anthony is an associate consultant on the software team.

About The Author

Devin is an associate consultant on the software team.

About The Author

Keelan is an associate consultant on the data team.

About The Author

Parker is an associate consultant on the software team.