So this is how it really works.
December 20, 2017 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I have completed scrum master training and am now certified as a CSM. I still haven't experienced scrum in the field which I know is more complicated than the theoretical scrum I've been taught. I'm already starting to receive interest from recruiters on LinkedIn. Help me devise a strategy to find an internship/shadowing opportunity with an existing scrum master/scrum team before I jump actively into the job market.

Earlier this year I lost a long term job as a coach/mentor/instructor to a group of analytic project teams. I could have retired but am clear that I don't want to stop working. I enrolled in a program designed to get experienced workers into second/encore careers. In this program I accidentally discovered scrum and scrum masters which I had previously never heard of.

I signed up for, took, and passed the scrum master certification. In this process I became aware that I had previously done some of the job of a scrum master and that I wanted to do scrum with student project teams. At this point I became stuck on how to move forward.

From reading this metafilter post I saw that scrum in the field is far more complicated than the theoretical scrum I'd been exposed to. I decided I need to see scrum in action and that an internship of sorts would be the best way to do this.The CEO of the training organization that did the scrum training said he's never heard of a scrum internship. He urged me to start applying for jobs now.

I put my CSM certification in my linkedIn skill set and have received contact from recruiters. However, with my learning style, I don't feel comfortable taking a job until I've actually had hands on experience with it.

Help me to come up with a strategy for finding a scrum internship and then figure out where to look for the niche scrum educational positions I'm interested in.
posted by Xurando to Technology (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
How about joining a scrum meetup group? That would expose you to lots of local people who are doing scrum or interested in scrum.

There are scrum discussion groups here & there -- LinkedIn and StackOverflow come to mind.

If you're female, you can join systers which is an email discussion group for women in technology and pose this question there.

I know it isn't what you asked for, but I would recommend considering finding a scrum coach/mentor -- maybe through one of the above venues, finding a job, and then using them as a sounding board as you come across real live problems.

I've been managing software development for almost 30 years and have managed projects using a variety of agile methods (scrum is one such method) as well as been a consultant to projects trying to adopt agile methods. My observation is that there are a wide variety of practices that some people passionately defend as being essential to scrum while other people equally passionately argue that those practices are not scrum at all :). So, having an internship might give you experience with a set of practices that might only partially apply to your next job.
posted by elmay at 3:00 PM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I second everything elmay said.

I have seen extremely little consistency between how different companies (and even groups within a company) use Scrum and other agile methods. I also don't know that I've ever worked at a company that allows interns who aren't there for school credit, which might be a barrier.

If your previous job involved things similar to Scrum without the Scrum specifics, it doesn't seem that crazy to me to just get a job and do the same stuff you did before with your new learnings layered on.
posted by primethyme at 3:08 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just jump into it, you will be fine.
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:56 PM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: There are a few threads in my thoughts telling me I won't be fine without first hand experience: Older worker, my learning style, no tech background.
posted by Xurando at 4:21 PM on December 20, 2017

If you google things like "how scrum works on our team" or "how scrum works on our team," I think you'll have more informal/anecdotal perspectives on scrum than you can shake a stick at. And you're right to look at this inductively--i.e. based on examples--because scrum is just a way of routinizing some things that shouldn't be hard but in practice tend to be messy (communication, a todo list, validation that things can be removed from the todo list, making some guesses about what's achievable, etc.). Basically any shared cognitive model that helps in routinizing those things can work, and you're completely right that people adapt scrum to local circumstances, so it does help to be aware of ways you can be flexible while still encouraging folks to arrive at a consistent process they can organize around even when there are disruptions (e.g. half the team being out on vacation at the end of the year ...). Getting access to someone's team for a shadowing opportunity may be hard, but I think people who blog about this stuff have trickled out lots of questions and examples that hint pretty well at the realities.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:37 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another approach might be to become part of a scrum team -- ideally the scrum team has several roles like product owner, SQA, and technical writer -- which, depending on the team and product, may not require the same level of technical background as a development engineer. Then, you could observe scrum "in the wild".
posted by elmay at 8:40 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are many flavors of scrum "seventh day Kan-ban-ites", "latter day waterfalls", "Story Point Orthidoxy", etc, etc. So many groups might be happy if you come with an attitude of wanting to learn their style.

Are there any coding boot camps or schools nearby where they might appreciate a scrum master coming in for a mock planning session?

It sounds like you already have the experience in team dynamics, and now to boot you have a good understanding of scrum. You sound fine.

In some cases it's better not to have as much of a tech background. If you're asking questions, and people communicate, there can be less misunderstandings in what needs to get done.
posted by nickggully at 9:16 PM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

My company has a strictly defined set of guidelines for scrum, but even so, every team does it a little differently. Whenever we get a new scrum master, it takes about a week for that person to get up to full speed on our processes and become the full scrum master that we need. They come to us with some ideas about how scrum works in other places, and sometimes we listen and incorporate but mostly it's more like "yes, we know the theory but this is how we do it here".

I don't think doing intern scrum will help you at all in your first "real job" because each of those teams will have done it differently. My vote is to just jump in. If you get assigned to an existing team, the team will help you get up to speed. If you get put in a new team, you will all figure it out together.
posted by CathyG at 11:56 AM on December 21, 2017

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