About the Academy

Academy Overview

The goal of the Academy is to bridge the gap between graduating from a bootcamp (or from college with a technical degree) and demonstrating the experience to work as a solid Developer on professional projects.

Rather than being a program looking to launch many students into the software development field, we are focused on investing in the next cohort of promising developers at RoleModel. We take a maximum of five Academy participants each year. Those who don't make it all the way through to apprenticeship will still have received have received a solid foundation in Software Craftsmanship principles.

Phase 1 - Skills Immersion

The first three months of the Academy are dedicated to putting together your basic toolbox through a series of progressively complex challenges. Subjects include but are not limited to:

  • Test-driven development of object-oriented programming alone and in pairs
  • Web application development using Ruby, Sinatra, Rails, HTML (ERB/HAML/SLIM), SASS (CSS), JavaScript (CoffeeScript, Angular, Ember, Node), SQL (relational databases) and no-SQL storage
  • Mobile development for iOS (Swift, Objective-C), Cross-platform (HTML5/JavaScript), or Android (Java)
  • Data Structures, Design Patterns, Techniques and Tools
  • Agile software development

Instructors are on hand for 8-15 hours per week, giving lessons and direction, checking on progress and facilitating real learning. You will have 40+ hours of reading assignments and coding exercises per week. Each participant is also assigned a personal mentor from among RoleModel's team.

Evaluations will occur at two weeks, four weeks and three months to determine if you are making adequate progress. If you pass every evaluation during the Skills Immersion Phase, we will invite you to continue on to Apprenticeship.

The immersion phase prepares the participants to accelerate their journey to becoming Proficient and Expert software developers by:

  • establishing good habits of software development in a modern web/mobile environment,
  • establishing an awareness of bad habits to avoid,
  • establishing confidence through encouragement and accomplishment, but
  • keeping them from overestimating their competence by challenging them with harder and harder problems whose solutions they’ve not yet seen

The expected outcome of this phase is an Apprentice prepared to sit next to a more seasoned TDD/OO/Agile Developer without being completely lost. Such an Apprentice should be ready to absorb like a sponge while having something to offer on the trivial and non-trivial (but not incredibly complex) tasks… preparing them to participate in more and more complex tasks with competence.

Participants come to the Academy having already had some exposure to programming in parts of the “Stack” of technologies of Web Development. By the time they are finished with the Immersion Phase, they will be exposed to the “Full Stack” and have several weeks of experience with Ruby/Rails, HTML/CSS, JavaScript (and some JavaScript-based frameworks), Database uses and iOS with good TDD development habits under their belts and an object-oriented paradigm planted in their brains.

Though we encourage participants to help each other out, and even occasionally assign them to pair program, each participant is responsible for his or her own project. We need to make sure each participant “gets it” and can apply what we have encouraged them to learn without relying on someone else.

Apprenticeship cultivates the skills and confidence that only real on-the-job experience can provide.

Phase 2 - Apprenticeship

In this phase, you will apprentice for 3-6 months in developing a real-world project under the supervision and direction of the Master Craftsman and others. In addition to re-enforcing the skills you've already learned, the Apprenticeship will help you cultivate the practical skills, intuition and confidence that only real on-the-job experience can provide. It will test your work ethic and your abilities to apply knowledge, to provide value through service to others, to work under pressure, to work as a team, to communicate, to seek help when needed, just to name a few.

Phase 3 - Residency

After three months of Apprenticeship, we evaluate you to see if you are ready to move on to the Residency phase. (If you have not yet demonstrated the target skill level, we will either offer you a chance to extend the Apprenticeship phase or dismiss you from the program.)

Residents work on RoleModel projects as part of a team supervised by the project's technical leader. At the end of each three months of Residency, we evaluate you according to a skills matrix to see if you are ready to receive a full-time position as a Developer at RoleModel.

Craftsmanship Academy Staff

  • Lead Instructors
    • Master Craftsman - Ken Auer
    • Senior Software Craftsman - Caleb Woods
  • Other "Sectional" Instructors - various people from RoleModel per expertise
  • Personal Mentors
    • During Immersion Phase, first choice will be those working from local office to participant
    • During Apprenticeship and Residency Phases, participants may be sent to remote offices

Code of Conduct

We've put a lot of thought into establishing the best possible environment for the the Craftsmanship Academy. Therefore, we have a Code of Conduct describing what we expect of you during your participation. Our core requirements are integrity in all things, respect for authority and one another, a strong work ethic, mutual encouragement and appropriate moral conduct.

Our Code of Conduct is founded on Biblical principles and worldview. We understand that we live in a time where many do not accept these principles or share this worldview. Sharing our worldview is not a requirement, nor will you be required to participate in any religious activity. However, you must agree to adhere to the Code of Conduct while you are here. Read it and decide whether you can abide by it during the Academy before submitting your application.

Technology Requirements

Participants must bring their own MacBook/MacBook Pro and know how to use it. This is not negotiable because we will be using tools optimized for macOS. A good Craftsman invests in his tools. You will be working together with instructors, mentors, and other apprentices. Using similar tools makes that collaboration much smoother.

Financial Model

  • Phase 1 (Immersion) - Cost $20,000 paid by participant
    • Scholarships may be provided for exceptional applicants
  • Phase 2 (Apprenticeship) - stipend at RoleModel
  • Phase 3 (Residency) - stipend at RoleModel
  • Potential contract offer as a RoleModel Developer

A Successful Track Record

Previous apprentices at RoleModel Software include Nathaniel Talbott, Matthew Bass, Adam Williams, Michael Hale, Austin Taylor, Paul Nicholson, and others. Each of them have enjoyed very successful careers in software development.

Academy graduates John Calvin Young, Christian Di Lorenzo, Jeremy Walton, Kyle Smith, Adam Simon, Danny Sullivan, and Preston Rodeniser are employed at RoleModel, delivering value to clients and continuing to grow.

We regularly get comments from people who are amazed that the best developers they see in the Research Triangle Park area are the ones who came through RoleModel.

Program Location

RoleModel Software's headquarters in Holly Springs, NC conviently located on the North side of Holly Springs, NC with a studio space specifically designed for collaboration. Our location is minutes from all the major highways used to navitgate the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

We are also only a few miles from downtown Holly Springs including the Holly Springs Library and Cultural Center and a variety of recreational facilities. There is also brand new shopping complexing with dozens of restaurants, stores, and a movie theater.

A slightly longer drive gives you access to all that the Triangle has to offer, plus several smaller towns each with their own unique charm. Canoeing or kayaking on the wild and scenic sections of the Cape Fear River is also available along with other rural attractions.


The Craftsmanship Academy may be able to assist in finding affordable housing of various sorts. Housing requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis depending on availability. If you are interested in housing, please check the appropriate box on your application. If you are accepted into the program, we will work out those details.