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So my friend's boss brought in four junior candidates with some work experience, she is one of them. Her manager wants them to be experts on the subject matter of tomcat in a matter of two months in order to justify them as billable to other clients as a technical trainer.

My biggest concern is this, they only have a year to no experience in development but no production support experience. Is it possible to turn these greenhorns into gurus in a short amount of time with the use of text and forums?

Also they don't have a proper sandbox to play with, i.e. any servers. I am helping in my spare time but I don't feel she has enough time to become a SME. What can I do to help her become an expert or what can I say to her that the position may not be a good fit?

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that year ... experience in development, was it with Tomcat? –  gnat Dec 23 '11 at 20:09
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This manager is plain and simple scamming the client. A good company operates on a level of trust and tries to build a relationship with their clients to earn repeat business. This guy is clearly not concerned with that. If I were the client I wouldn't pay the bill if I asked for 4 Tomcat SME's and was given 4 kids with a combined age of less than 96 years. –  maple_shaft Dec 23 '11 at 20:17
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There is an old saying... "Those who can do, do. Those who cannot do, teach." I think there is some truth simply because as a training you are guaranteed a source people who doesn't know much. This is why there are so many scammers in the training business. –  Desmond Zhou Dec 23 '11 at 20:40
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I might not go so far as to say scamming the client, at least not intentionally (although that possibility does certainly exist). In my experience, some managers simply underestimate what's necessary in order to have expert competency. You know how some people think programmers are the go-to person for all things computer related? Managers are sometimes only slightly less naive than that. –  Anthony Pegram Dec 23 '11 at 21:14
    
@gnat Sadly no she doesn't have experience, I had to show her how to deploy an application in tomcat and that's as far as my expertise goes. I can do basic configuration but that's it. But, I am enjoying learning with her :) I might go into prod support someday. –  HunterBlack Dec 23 '11 at 22:32
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up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you re-read your question, you will find the answer perfectly clear.

It is a horrible idea but the boss probably doesn't care and just want to scam some poor clients by sending junior employees billed as experts and pocket the difference. Its quite a common occurrence and doesn't usually end well especially for the employee.

If they actually have a proper training tools (sandboxes) and training from existing experts, then the position seems more legit. Then even though it may still not work out and she would lose the job in the end, at least her learns something and is better geared for a real job.

In any case, you should not be doing the training, you can help by generating lead for a real job and your friend should only take this gig if she is in between jobs and need the income, remain active in her job search.

Career management is extremely important for programmers, any job should have long term advancement, resume credibility or real training (mentoring from experts, not reading books yourself). Short term pay is actually secondary.

One year of time well used or wasted when you are junior will define your career trajectory.

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Agreed, I feel bad for those four developers. Unless they are exceptionally bright and/or manipulative smooth talkers they are not going to fool the client. –  maple_shaft Dec 23 '11 at 20:12
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+1 especially for the employee –  Tom Dec 23 '11 at 20:13
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@maple_shaft and if they are THAT good, they deserve better than this company. –  Desmond Zhou Dec 23 '11 at 20:38
    
Thanks mate I'll try talking to her about what to do if this one doesn't work out. I couldn't believe what they were doing myself. –  HunterBlack Dec 23 '11 at 22:35
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