We are Principled: 5th Edition

We teach anyone with a willingness to learn.
    We do not hoard our knowledge or practices. —from the 8th Light Principles of A Community of Professionals

European scholars often cite the inventions of the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing as the major scientific and technological achievements of Ancient China. Yet there was another invention that perhaps influenced the Chinese civilization in a more profound way.

In the 1st century BC, Ancient China completed its first unification. This transformed a land divided by vassal states into an empire under a single regime. However, even after conquering the feudal lords who relinquished their reigns over the vast territory of China, the imperial family struggled to find enough educated men to fill the government overseeing the enormous population of their empire.

The Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) first appointed administrative officials based on recommendations from aristocrats, who had every interest to keep the power within their own clans. A Han emperor eventually devised an imperial examination, based on Confucian classics, to evaluate the quality of his candidates. The emperor later offered the examination to the general public, and granted any aspiring individual a chance to climb the social ladder and join the ranks of the bureaucracy.

The imperial examination system was the first set of standardized tests based on merit in human history. This, subsequently gave birth to the Chinese Dream, the story of an underprivileged boy spending his entire youth studying Confucius' writings and other Chinese classics, supported by his family and spouse, in the hope of one day becoming a well-respected elite civil servant appointed by the emperor.

By giving its people the motivation to send their children to schools and acquaint themselves with Confucianism, a preferable set of ideals for sustaining a society in harmony, the imperial family of China was able to scale up their administration for one of the largest populations on earth.

As a consultancy, we are fortunate to be living in a time when our service is in great demand. However, we are also faced with the same predicament as those Ancient Chinese rulers. We need more people to expand our business, and we only want to work with the best software professionals to uphold the standard of quality we demand for our service.

For our recruiting, we draw talent from as wide a pool as we can find. We accept applications regardless of their academic background or experience level. We have had apprentices with a Master's degree in Computer Science, a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, dropped out of college, or never went to college. We have had apprentices with more than twenty years of industry experience, and with no experience. We host 8th Light University every Friday at noon in our offices and welcome all to come for lunch and lessons, completely free of charge. We also organize the annual Software Craftsmanship North America conference to spark the interest of the public in what we do. We pride ourselves in our dedication to teach anyone with a willingness to learn. We work to enable the dreams of those who want to be software professionals despite their natural advantages or disadvantages. We reward those who stick to their dreams and never give up in the face of all the challenges along their journey.

Just as the Ancient Chinese rulers who had to look past the privileged class to find the right people to run their government, the 8th Light apprenticeship program is a crack in the ivory tower of software engineering that will shatter boundaries and invite a new generation of programmers to build a more diverse future.

Li-Hsuan Lung enjoys reading, writing, and translating between Chinese and English and is part of the ongoing effort to bring the Agile Manifesto to a Chinese audience.