The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
As Scrum’s popularity increases, there is a rising demand for professionals with Scrum experience. However, since Scrum is still a fairly new management method, that puts many aspiring Scrum practitioners in a tough spot: They want the experience of working in a Scrum environment, but they need Scrum experience to get the job. Obviously, then, there is no better experience than actually working in a Scrum environment, but there are plenty of ways to build experience that will pay off in that environment.
One way to secure valuable experience is to attend a two-day Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course. CSM courses focus on an interactive approach to learning the basics of Scrum, including its vocabulary, principles, and practices. The course lasts only two days, but most attendees find that the information covered really sticks due to the hands-on nature of the course. Several companies offer CSM courses and a full list of trainers and their schedule of courses is located on the Scrum Alliance website.
Of course, real life experience working in a Scrum environment is far more compelling than simply attending a CSM course. When an individual works on a Scrum team—whether as a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Analyst, Developer, Tester, etc.—for a full year since completing a CSM course, he or she may apply to become a Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP). The Scrum Alliance reviews and, based on one’s qualifications, approves the CSP designation. Clearly, the CSP title is attractive for employers, who view it as proof that an individual understands Scrum’s principles and processes and has practiced them.
Short of getting experience on a Scrum team, the next best thing is to illustrate to your prospective employer that you possess qualities valued within a Scrum environment. These might include skills such as pair-programming, test-driven development, continuous integration, and refactoring code. Apart from these development techniques, it’s important to demonstrate a strong background in collaboration and facilitation. Since Scrum places greater emphasis on the success of the team, rather than personal heroics, an individual who has proven his or her leadership potential—without extensive authority—would be an excellent candidate for the ScrumMaster role.
Beyond Scrum courses or, of course, working in a Scrum environment, an individual can prepare for a career in Scrum by developing certain skill sets and demonstrating personality attributes that would fit within the Scrum paradigm.
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