Need experience but can't get experience... Help!!

Last post 03:27 pm August 24, 2019
by Doris Addison
15 replies
Author
Messages
05:06 pm October 2, 2017

Hi my fellow Scrummers,

I would love some insight from you all. I have my PSM 1 certification and have acted as an interim Scrum Master in the past but have not held the official title of a Scrum Master. I am working hard to implement scrum at my current company but they are very hard pressed that it just won't work. We currently use KanBan and Waterfall but it is used VERY loosely; we don't even do requirements documentation. With that said, I really want to break into a Scrum Master position but I keep being told that I need more experience. While I understand that, I cannot gain experience with my current company and because I don't have but 6 months of experience as the interim Scrum Master, that is seen as little to no experience by the employers I have met with. 

With all that said, how in the world can I get into a Scrum Master role when I cannot get my company to adopt it and companies in DFW are not very open about hiring Junior level Scrum Masers? It's kind of a chicken versus egg thing; the chicken comes from the egg but you need the chicken to make the egg. I need experience as a Scrum Master but I cannot get experience unless I am hired as a Scrum Master. 

I love the framework and have seen how beneficial it is to companies who adopt it. I love the servant-leadership quality of the role and that is perfectly fitting to my personality; I have always been the guy that takes the lead when appropriate but I get joy from serving others more than anything. 

I am networking but that hasn't really yielded much fruit at this time. So basically, if you have any tips or comments, I would love to hear from you all. Thanks!

12:47 am October 3, 2017

Hi Curtis - I certainly understand how it can be a challenge to land a SM position without experience, but don't give up.  You have a great attitude going for you.  You didn't mention what your current role is.  Are you a developer?  PM?

I have a couple of suggestions.  Are there any other SMs or folks at your company interested in Scrum?  Perhaps you can start a Community of Practice with them, where you meet to talk about Scrum topics.  You could also run a Lean Coffee style to share your knowledge around Scrum and build some enthusiasm.  Maybe do a Reading Circle around servant leadership?  Green leaf's book is free.  And are you part of any external Scrum or Agile organizations where you can learn and network?

If there are any SMs at your company, perhaps you could ask for some advice or see if a mentorship could help you.

And have you asked your manager to help you, perhaps give you a chance to run a lower risk, smaller project with Scrum to inform the organization?

Wishing you all the best with becoming a Scrum Master!

03:26 pm October 3, 2017

Chris,

Thanks for the reply! So I'm a QA Analyst, which before I started in this position a month ago, there was no QA. There are no SM's at my company as corporate leadership is not very accepting of Scrum. The entire development department is 11 people, including the manager. Management doesn't believe we have the resources to adhere to Scrum (even though we can absolutely make it work with some minor adjustments) and they frequently take dev members from projects to fix defects. Then they get upset when the expected deadline for new programs is not met. 

Unfortunately, I get conflicting information about where the problem truly lies. The Dev Members blame the management for not implementing a process, then management says they have tried but the Dev Team will not adhere to the process. I have started a Daily Scrum for the project we are currently working to get out in the field and that has proven successful and has been well received. However, the company as a whole is of the mentality "We have always done it this way so why make changes?" There are no requirements sessions, the requirements documentation is made AFTER the program is created so you can imagine how often changes are made, even up to scrapping the entire program and starting over; all because they do not have requirements documentation. I do plan to sit down with my manager and propose the use of Scrum for our next project (I mean there is no process in place so it really can't be worse) but I'm not optimistic that I will get the green light because of what it will take for our CTO, President, and other directors to get on board.

My wife and I just had our first child so I have not had the ability to go to external meetups and networking events but I am set to begin this month. I'm hoping that will help and prove to be a beneficial time investment.  

09:23 pm October 4, 2017

Any other tips from you seasoned Scrummers?

12:52 pm October 5, 2017

See if you can get support to try Scrum on a low risk, low profile project.  Early successes will breed excitement.

03:58 pm October 9, 2017

Jay, Thanks for the comment. So I'm implementing Scrum as much as I can but the company I'm with will not fully adopt Scrum; it takes away the leadership's power (at least that's what they think). Basically, I've implemented the Scrum events but we don't have an official Sprint and we don't have an official Product Owner. For example, we just cancelled the sprint we laid out because management forced it upon us to work on a different project. We use the Scrum events and about to start using the artifacts, but we won't use the full framework of Scrum. That's why I'm coming to the people who are in the SM role's for hep and advice. Unfortunately, even though I will be implementing bits and pieces of Scrum and acting as the Scrum Master; I almost feel as though I would be lying if I labeled myself as a Scrum Master when Scrum is not fully implemented.

07:42 pm October 10, 2017

Hi Curtis,

Do you know why "the leadership" are concerned about losing power?

Perhaps you should watch this video from Gunther Verheyen (I'd actually recommend watching his other videos too). I set it to start at the point that your comment reminded me of: https://youtu.be/xwDqSoG64zw?t=1m37s

08:25 pm October 10, 2017

Thanks Simon, I'll watch it tonight. So basically, it's a very small company and the President, CTO, and Operations Director have each been here since day 1, 30 years ago. They do not adhere to the dev team members being set on a project for any amount of time because they want to be able to pull them off at their leisure to either fix defects in current programs or to work on a completely new program. This does not flow with Scrum. In Scrum, the Scrum team is designated to work and complete whatever is lined out for the current sprint (as we all know here on the forum) and the dev team should not be pulled away from the team in the middle of a Sprint. That is the reason the leadership feels it will take their power away by not being able to come in and make changes at the drop of a hat. 

Trust me, I'm trying to promote it and near begging to just let me implement Scrum for even 1 small program but I have not been given the green light yet. Until then, I will lead the events that follow Scrum as I am able, like the daily scrum, sprint review, and maybe a retro if I can swing it. I know it's a journey with my current company and I'll keep working towards it as I am able.

My biggest concern is that I really want to be a Scrum Master but without experience, companies that implement Scrum are not interested in someone with no experience. It's looking like a losing battle. 

07:00 am May 17, 2018

Hello,

I am stuck in same situation. I am trying to get a break as scrum master in my own organisation but no luck and companies outside do not want people like me with no scrum experience.

I do not know how to move forward.

It is kind of demotivating

03:59 pm May 18, 2018

Does your company resist Scrum or just you as Scrum Master? Is it in any way open to some process improvements? How about you propose to people around you to start to work in 2 week cycles, followed by a demo of what was done? Totally informally :) And if they allow this and it works, try to introduce other parts of Scrum, one by one... Before you know it, you will be working in Scrum, and you have worked as unofficial SM :)

04:05 pm May 18, 2018

Guys i worked as Quality Analyst for 3 yrs. in sydney.I took break of 2 yr and did scrum master certification a month ago thinking to change my job into full time scrum master. i worked on agile for a year though.

1) but i am finding it difficult in getting a scrum master job without commercial experience.because many companies or recruiters ask experience to do the job and job ad are too much they are asking programming knowledge and everything in one role

2)no junior scrum master roles

3)i dont know how certification helps to find out job without experience

4) i am really confused

5) can you guys help me

 

08:18 pm May 21, 2018

Since this post was brought back up, I'd like to give an update.

After a lot of discussion with leadership, they finally gave the green light to begin implementing scrum. It was little by little. We started simple with the Daily Scrum. Then incorporated Reviews, the reviews were not by Sprint because we didn't have Sprints at the time but instead just did a biweekly review of the work the Dev Team had done. Leadership began to see the benefits and wanted to learn more. Now, we are not 100% scrum yet; but we are getting there. We utilize sprints now but we have back end and front end developers; we are not fully cross-functional. Our dev members get pulled off sprints to be used on other things at random at the direction of our upper management. Even still, I am recognized as the Scrum Master and am gaining some amazing experience. 

My encouragement to Anchal and Kalicharan, don't give up. Look through your past experience and focus on team leadership, coaching others, training others, project management, and any experience that you have within the SDLC. Then, get to networking. If your current company has Scrum or wants to do Scrum, get a meeting with the manager to make the call and talk about how you can help and what you're able to bring to the table. Also, look for volunteer options. See if you can incorporate Scrum in a project at your church or local community. Look for coding clubs aimed at teens and college kids and see if you can help with that as a coach. Last thing, get with a quality recruiter in your area that fills Scrum Master roles and see what they would suggest. That was hugely helpful to me. I realized I had a lot more experience doing Scrum than I thought because it was stuff I did prior to getting the certification and I did as a way of helping my co-workers at the time instead of doing it because it was my job. 

10:00 pm March 28, 2019

Leonardo K Bittencourt's video https://youtu.be/g4gxR9mWdJk provides some great perspective on this perplexing dilemma.

Bittencourt explains how scrum masters are initially measured for their hard skills, but how we're still naturally fuzzy when it comes to assessing someone's soft skills. Interviewers lean toward answers relating experience within scrum, while discounting any answers outside the framework. Thus, many competent and flexible IT servant leaders, with superb people skills and years of experience on autonomous teams, face steeper hills when attempting to prove their potential.

Much of the traditional/industrial/non-agile hiring process encourages this top-down approach for evaluation of talent needed to act as change agents and organizational reformers. We want new thinkers, yet we judge their worth using outdated processes. "Happy Monday team XYZ! Btw, here's your new scrum master. Daily stand-up starts in 5 minutes. Places every one!"

Now here comes the scary part for HR and hiring managers. If we flip the script and let the team evaluate talent and choose their next scrum master, it's a win-win for all. The team gets to test drive the best candidates, on-site or off-site, through brief introductions, a mock retrospective, some short two-on-ones, and a team lunch. If time permits, the potential scrum master can continue their day with an organizational agility assessment enlisting the opinions of product owner(s) and stake holders. Now we have buy-in from the team(s) and they are empowered as part of the decision.

Organizations that can exhibit agility in hiring will see better talent evaluation, reduced attrition, and higher performing teams that deliver unparalleled value.

 

 

10:41 am August 14, 2019

Hi All,

I am facing the same issue. Though i am employed at my old firm, i am currently on a long leave as i moved to UK to join my husband. Meanwhile, i completed my certification (PSM1) which had been a long term goal for me. I have worked as a developer in scrum teams earlier and i also have worked as a team lead where i have implemented scum values a lot.But since i dont have years of experience in official 'Scrum role', i am not able to join other companies. Neither is my old company taking me in for a project where scrum masters are required as i am in a different country and the openings here are not visible to me. I am in a strange situation where i am unable to either move out of my old company or stick around, and i am not able to practice and contribute as a scrum master which i so enjoy.

Any guidance here will be greatly appreciated.

02:50 pm August 16, 2019

I have worked as a developer in scrum teams earlier and i also have worked as a team lead where i have implemented scum values a lot.

It doesn't seem like you have the right understanding of this particular framework (Scrum). Are you of opinion values can be implemented? 

 

But since i dont have years of experience in official 'Scrum role', i am not able to join other companies.

Is there really an official Scrum role out there? Are there obligations on employers to use the designated scrum roles (SM, PO, DTM) as part of the employment contracts?

As a developer you should be in a (relatively) good position, especially in the UK. Not sure how the visa system works atm, but if you should be able to continue as a developer, then slowly embark on a SM career if you so desire.

 

Neither is my old company taking me in for a project where scrum masters are required as i am in a different country and the openings here are not visible to me. 

Food has to be put on the table, right? What's wrong, from your perspective, to continue to be a developer, and while you keep doing that, find ways to start as a SM, maybe with your own team or another team in the company (whether your old one or another one)?

Unsure why you'd say the openings aren't visible to you. There are countless job boards and recruiters.

03:24 pm August 24, 2019

Keep in making the extra mile! Then you will have your chances! :)