How To Teach Someone You Have Never Met To Do Something They Have Never Done Before

How To Teach Someone You Have Never Met To Do Something They Have Never Done Before


I was recently given the opportunity to begin Professional Development for Gould Design, Inc. as an entry-level truss designer. The catch is that I have never worked as a truss designer before. And to top it off I live on the opposite side of the continent from the company offering the position. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well there is a job that won’t last long” and I have to admit that at first I was skeptical. I have been working in the construction industry for the last 8 years as an estimator and project manager. While browsing my Linked In news feed one day I came across a blog post from GDI. As I began to read more posts and learn more about the company I began considering inquiring about a position with the company.

After reaching out, I was put through several evaluations to learn about my:

  • Knowledge of the industry
  • Skill set
  • Personality
  • Individual strengths

This was the first time my level of skepticism was lowered a notch. I began to understand that due to the nature of the business, the person making the hiring decisions needs to rely on such methods to be able to identify qualified candidates.

I was instructed that once I completed the evaluations that I would have to spend time in the company’s Professional Development (PD) program. Additionally, I would be assigned a mentor who would help me learn what I needed to know. Mind you that I have a full-time position estimating for a residential framing company. Despite the recent history of the Northern California homebuilding industry our company is busy, so I knew going into this my time would be limited. I begin to wonder how am I going to spend time working with my mentor, when I manage to make it home he is going to be getting ready for bed. Here comes that skepticism creeping back into my thoughts.

As part of my PD I’m introduced to and enrolled in MiTek University. Before I received my enrollment information I decide I want to test out this MiTek software. I have previous experience with Alpine, having used it for wall panel design so I assume that I should be able to figure a little bit out on my own, right? Wrong! Forty five minutes later I can’t even figure out how to input a wall.

Day two on the program went a little better. After spending some time with my mentor and getting set up on MiTek University I was able to walk through some very basic roof truss layouts within about two and a half hours. The best part was with MiTek University being a web-based, online program I can walk through at my own pace and at any time of the day.

In the following days I have been continually amazed by the simplicity and power of the MiTek software. To even begin inputting walls in Alpine you have to establish the building overall size and then input reference lines based on plan dimensioning all around the perimeter building. In MiTek, you click the directional arrow and enter a dimension and the wall appears on your layout. While MiTek already has many time-saving features that I have discovered (Like auto-frame which will fill a roof area with common trusses based on the layout span and run you have created), MiTek University teaches the most efficient way to perform tasks, such as keyboard shortcuts.

As I reflect on what I have shared, and realize that within a month I was given an opportunity to learn something that I had never done from someone I had never met. Understanding that through careful candidate selection, intensive PD training, and access to resources like MiTek University something that may, to others, seem impossible is in fact possible. Needless to say I am no longer skeptical.

How would you go about teaching/training someone you barely knew to do a job they had no experience in?

Jonathan Wagner – Design Trainee

Gould Design, Inc.