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The Culture Foundry Prove-It Contract

At Culture Foundry, we’re trying a new hiring approach to create a “bridge opportunity” between an internship and a first paid coding job.

We’ve come across a number of promising candidates who are right at that stage: Coding school / degree complete. Internship complete. Coding projects established.

But they have yet to secure their first “real world” coding job that proves their ability to solve technology problems on a broader team, under deadline, with real-world challenges and stakes. Without that established, it’s a big risk for a company (especially a small one like Culture Foundry) to bet one of its few new full-time positions on the candidate’s ability to make the leap.

The motivated candidate’s answer to this challenge is clear: “Give me a chance to get in the door at Culture Foundry, and I will show you that I can make the leap. I will prove it.”

So we said “OK” and created the Prove-It contract.

It works like this:

  • The “Prove It’ contract is 12 weeks in length
  • It is full time (40 hours per week)
  • It is entry-level hourly pay
  • Like an internship, we invest early to get the candidate up to speed on our clients, our process, our technologies, our coding standards and our environments
  • At about the midpoint (6 weeks) we expect to see some early evidence of what the candidate is able to deliver (develop and release small, well-defined coding tasks)
  • At the 8-week point, we make a call on what to do at the end of the contract. Possibilities include:
    • Conversion to a full-time salaried role
    • Determination to end the contract at the 12-week point (giving the candidate 4 weeks of runway to find their next opportunity)
    • Conversion to a longer-term contract
    • Extension of the evaluation period
  • Conversion to a full-time salaried role (or longer-term contract) is dependent on both the success of the candidate and the success of Culture Foundry (i.e. having enough business to support that role). There is no assurance of employment at contract’s end.
  • During the contract, the candidate’s “Prove It” provisional status is widely known and freely discussed within the company

What we look for in “Prove It” candidates:

  • Candidates who resonate with our core purpose and values
  • Candidates with the self-discipline to work (and learn) in a remote work environment
  • Candidates who have shown proof of delivery. GitHub repositories aren’t enough: what has the candidate delivered and where is the live URL where we can see it, play with it, and try to break it?

Applicable roles:

This is an experiment we rolled out last year and we have our first two ever “Prove It” candidates on the path now, so we have much to learn about what works with this approach and what doesn’t. What we can say is that it seems to align the interests of candidate and company nicely. Risk is low on both sides, meaning we’re free to work with more promising candidates, and they’re able to get a 12-week crash course of real world experience that — even it doesn’t convert to a longer-term role at Culture Foundry — will be a crucial stairstep to their first full-time coding job.

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