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 a solid foundation in Software Craftsmanship principles.

Our long term goal is to continue growing the experienced Craftsman that RoleModel is known for by investing in and training our own talent. This is demonstrated by Academy graduates John Calvin Young and Kyle Smith having achieved the level of Craftsman at RoleModel after several years of faithfully serving our customers.

Phase 1 - Skills Immersion

The first two 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/SLIM), SASS (CSS), JavaScript (ES6+, React), SQL (relational databases) and no-SQL storage
  • Mobile first and responsive design for the web
  • 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 eight weeks 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 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

  • Supervising 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

RoleModel leverage an Income Share Agreement (ISA) for participants to fund the tuition portion of the Craftsmanship Academy. Beyond the Phase 1 (Immersion) successful will receive an job offer to continue their apprenticeship at RoleModel.

  • Phase 1 (Immersion) - Cost $30,000 paid by participant via ISA or $25,000 upfront payment
  • Phase 2 (Apprenticeship) - stipend at RoleModel
  • Phase 3 (Residency) - stipend at RoleModel
  • Potential contract offer as a RoleModel Developer

ISA Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an Income Share Agreement?
    • With an Income Share Agreement (ISA) you won’t pay any up-front tuition until you find a job making $40,000/year. Once you are employed, you will pay 15% of your annual income for four years.
    • Through our ISAs, participants are enabled to attend the Craftsmanship Academy without paying up-front tuition, in exchange for an agreed upon percentage of their post-graduation income over a pre-defined number of years. This our way of aligning incentives, we only succeed if you succeed!
  • What are the benefits of an ISA?
    • Affordability/Peace of Mind
      • Since repayments are tied to your income you only make repayments when you are in a position to afford it. ISAs protect you in times of financial hardship.
    • Accessibility
      • We invest in your future potential, that’s why our ISAs do not require a Credit Score or Co-Signer.
    • Focus on Your Career
      • Fixed payment schedules of personal loans force repayments regardless of income. With an ISA you can put your full focus on your career.
  • How much will I pay?
    • Your repayments are tied to your income. You will pay 15% of your pre-tax annual income on a monthly basis for 48 months. However, you only repay if your annual income is over $40,000 per year (or $3,333 per month).
  • When are my ISA payments completed?
    • Your ISA is completed if one of the following three is fulfilled:
      • You have paid a total of $30,000
      • You have accumulated 96 months of deferment and repayment, regardless of the total repayment amount
      • You have made 48 monthly payments
  • How is this different from a traditional loan?
    • Loans are paid back through fixed monthly payments including interest based on a principal. ISAs are more flexible in their repayment terms and will adapt to your income circumstances throughout the repayment period. Repayments for an ISA are based on a percentage of your income and not on a fixed principal, so they should always be affordable. Also, ISAs do not include an interest rate that will increase your outstanding payment amount over time.
  • When do I begin paying for my ISA?
    • Your payments begin when you are earning more than $40,000 a year (or $3,333 per month).
  • When do payments pause?
    • Your account will be placed in deferment if you can demonstrate that you:
      • earn less than $3,333/month (equivalent to $40,000/year)
      • are unemployed.
    • We may extend your payment term by one month for each month of deferment, up to 48 months.
  • Do I have to accept my job offer?
    • No! You have the full discretion to reject any job offer of your choosing.
  • Is my income calculated before or after taxes?
    • Your payments are calculated based on gross income (before taxes).
  • How do I make payments for my ISA?
    • Your ISA will be managed by our partner Blair. Payments are handled through Blair’s ISA portal.
  • How do I report my income and track my ISA status?
    • Income can be reported on Blair’s ISA portal. After logging in, you are able to make payments, verify income and track the current status of your ISA payments.
  • Can I pay off my ISA early?
    • Yes! You can extinguish your obligations under your ISA by paying $30,000 (less payments made to date) at any time.
  • What happens if I experience financial hardship?
    • ISAs have a built in mechanism for pausing payments if your income ever falls below $40,000. If you have extenuating circumstances and are unable to make a payment, please contact Blair to discuss options rather than letting your account go into default.

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, Kyle Smith, Jeremy Walton, Adam Simon, Daniel Sullivan, Logan Peterson, Josh McLeod, and Jake Martin are employed at RoleModel, delivering value to clients and continuing to grow.

Academy graduates Braxton Plaxco, Christian DiLorenzo, and Amanda Simon have since moved on from RoleModel, but have been successful in their software development careers.

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 growing 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.