292 RR Bootcamps
- Published on:
- December 28, 2016
1:25 – Is a bootcamp the best way for someone to enter programming?
7:25 – Learning social skills for working with development teams
9:25 – Getting a well-rounded education
20:00 – Learning how to find a job and have a career
27:20 – The responsibility of code schools on helping you find a job
30:55 – Job searches for the programmer
32:30 – Picking the right bootcamp
35:50 – Placement as a junior dev
45:30 – Finding the time
52:40 – Deciding if bootcamp is right for you
Corporate Confidential (Brian)
Devops Remote Conf (Charles)
JS Remote Conf (Charles)
Freelance Remote Conf (Charles)
Free Code Camp (Charles)
Flatiron School (Charles)
Charles: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 292 of the Ruby Rogues Podcast. This week on our panel we have Brian Hogan.
Charles: Jerome Hardaway.
Jerome: Hey everybody! Happy Holidays!
Charles: Jason Swett.
Charles: I’m Charles Max Wood from www.devchat.tv. This week we have a guest lined up to talk about bootcamps and then we found that everybody has feelings about this stuff so we’re going to talk about it anyway. Our guest wasn’t able to make it but we’ll talk about it and then if we can get them back on then we will talk about it again I guess. I’m curious as we get started, does anyone have experience with the bootcamp? Jerome, I know you kind of run something like a bootcamp.
Jerome: I was actually one of the first recipients for the Opportunity Fund for General Assembly.
Jerome: Years ago. It doesn’t change how I view bootcamps until [00:01:07]. I see positive and negative things. I’ve been this thing for a minute now.
Charles: I’m just going to ask a in general and then whoever wants to start answering can answer it but it seems like there are a lot of ways that people come into programming, is bootcamp the best way for somebody to come in or are there people out there where bootcamp is the best way for them to come in?
Jerome: Depends on the person and depends on the school. Those what we’ve learned in our past and in just for profit bootcamps is people who have degrees that are more [00:01:48] like journalists, designers, things in that nature, going into a bootcamp is amazing because they already know how to use their orientation idea that is already [00:02:00] from their degree. It’s from practicing journalism or practicing design, things in that nature. Not so much for a lot of other people who their jobs or their degree may not be focused on getting people what they want or try to solve problems that people are getting messages across to people.
That’s where I see a lot of code schools fail in that idea of as I said Vets Who Code are non-profit. What we teach is there are three users. The first user is the guy who’s going to touch your code behind you. The second user is your boss who’s paying you to code. And third user is the person that’s actually interfaces with your app. The third user is more important than the other two users combined because that user can kill your app which is one [00:02:50] things of that nature.
That’s one of many things that I’m seeing in code schools that is not being touched or tackled is how you deal between thinking, we talk too much of thinking like a programmer and regardless of learning how to solve problems with code. Thinking, putting ourselves in the shoes of the user and figuring out what the hell does the user actually want in an app. We all go from that [00:03:21] statement of if I ask my customers what they want they will tell me they want [00:03:27] and while that’s true, you still can’t go too far away from the human psyche when it comes to building or creating anything. That’s what my opinion about that.
Brian: I have to agree with that. I taught college software development for four years until recently. One of the biggest complains that I would get from students is, “I wish I had more time in the class doing the right code. I hate taking these philosophy classes and these sociology classes that have nothing to do with what I’m going to be doing.” I’d always tell them, “You have no idea how valuable those kinds of things are going to be for you five years from now when you’re trying to figure out what a user really means when they say something or when you’re trying to figure out what the stakeholder wants.”
I always would tell the students that software is 20% writing code and 80% dealing with people. Those things like accounting that you take for granted or that econ class you don’t want to go to, those are things that are really sort of important. If you’re going to the bootcamp route, you may find yourself as some people do later on going, “I need to go get some knowledge in some other areas as well.”
There are many ways to learn to be a good software developer but focusing on code alone and focusing on how to build applications all alone isn’t a good long term solution for your career in my opinion.
Jason: I feel like perhaps one of the most important if not the most important skills for developer to have is to be able to talk with the non-technical stakeholder and figure out what the stakeholder needs and then translate that into software that serves that need which it a lot harder that it might seem if you haven’t done it.
Jerome: Yes. That is absolutely correct. Jason, you took the words right out of my mouth. You’d be amazed, you tell people all the time. If you can’t talk your code to like a six grader, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s just the fact. You have to be able to break this down to a person that may not have touched line of code a day in their life and has no intention. That is a really important skill to have. Speaking English as my wife says because I’m guilty of that more often than not when I’m talking about things I’m doing. She’s like, “Can you see say that again but this time with human words.”
Jason: You also have to account to the fact that what the stakeholders told you they need and they actually need, might not exactly be the same thing. How do you tell the difference between what they tell you they want and what’s actually going to serve their purpose?
Charles: Non text aside. If you haven’t worked with this guy that is like the genius programmer that shows up to work every week, puts his head down, doesn’t talk to anybody, and then [00:06:28] about how everybody else wrote the rest of the code, just keep working in the industry. You’ll work with them soon enough. After a while, what winds up happening is they leave or somebody in the company gets tired of them and makes them leave and then you find out that they’ve been this huge drag on the team even though they’re extremely talented.
In some cases, they pull in somebody that’s quite a bit junior but can learn and can work with the team and it turns out that they’re way more productive than their junior person that didn’t have the skills but was willing to learn and willing to contribute than they were with the genius person. Whatever the situation is, those interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team, deal with people and that regardless dealing with a non-technical stakeholder, is critical as well.
Jason: That’s a really good point. I’d be curious to hear how you guys have built those skills in your careers. For me, two books especially have taught me a ton. One is How to Influence People and the other is this Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Both of those books I consider psychology book and they help you understand what makes people tick and that sort of thing, what people’s motivations are, how to persuade people to your way of thinking and that kind of thing. All of which are super valuable when you’re working in any kind of team including, for sure, development team.
Brian: Those are two really good resources and there’s one more that I want to point out because it seems a little bit weird to bring this up but there’s a book called Corporate Confidential and it’s basically a book of ways you can totally damage your career at a company by breaking these sort of unspoken rules. It isn’t so much of how to interact with people on that basic level. It’s also about certain ways that you can damage yourself without realizing you’re damaging yourself just because not being aware of these kinds of social things that you might have picked up in other places. When I read that book, the first time, I was thinking, “I have done some of these things.” That would explain why certain situations turned out the way they did for me.
Jason: Do you have any examples?
Brian: None that I want to share publicly. But it does talk about things. For example, the book talks about how important it is to be that person that says yes to things but not all the time. I see a lot of eager developers that just come out. They want to make an impression on everybody so they’re always, “Yeah, I’ll take that on. Yeah, I’ll take that on. Yeah, I’ll take that on.” Only to end up being known as the person who says yes a lot but never delivers. It talks about those kinds of important things. Those are the kinds of things. I’m not going to be the first person to say everyone should have a degree in computer science program because some of the best programmer I’ve ever met in my entire life never had a CS degree. They had a degree in history or a degree in philosophy. And then they learn to code.
That’s not the same for everybody. I’m not going to get down to what computer degree is. I’m never going to say that you have to go to a four-year prestigious college but what I’m going to say is that the biggest advantage that you get going through a four-year college that’s focused on liberal arts and your major is that you get a learning path that takes you down many places that you wouldn’t go on your own. If you’re looking at a person who likes to code, you’re probably not going to be interested in picking up a book or taking an online course on let’s say our history but there are things that are very applicable to your base of understanding if you do take that class. You’ll be surprised by that.
What we’re really talking about when we’re talking about bootcamps and technical colleges and vocational schools and four-year colleges and online courses, we’re talking about, some people have gotten together and they laid out what they believes is a good learning plan. That may not work for you. That make work me than it worked for somebody else but it is a learning plan and there are advantages and disadvantage to both. I don’t want everybody to come away from this thinking that, “Brian is very much anti-bootcamp or so and so and very pro-college.” I did want to make that point, that they are different learning paths.
Jason: That’s really interesting that you bring that up Brian because what I’m kind of hearing from you is the idea of getting or giving yourself a really well-rounded education because you’ll get things from other disciplines that you can bring back to programming that would be helpful, that you might not have picked up if you were focusing on programming alone. Is that kind of the right take-away?
Brian: That’s exactly it. One of my biggest pastimes is music. I love to do stuff with music. But I find that there’s so many ways that music intersects with code. We talked to a lot of programmers that have similar background to mind. When it comes to the same thing there’s a lot in tune with music and software development. Then you talk to other developers who it turns out their hobby is woodworking and there’s a lot of things they can draw from woodworking and other kinds of crafts that they can bring into code. I’m sure that there are people who have other liberal arts backgrounds. I know a great technical person, a great coder, whose background is in linguistics.
There are a lot of different things that those other things that you might auto-hand dismiss. From my own personal experience I can tell you, when I was in college I hated accounting. I hated accounting and I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t pay attention. I want to go write code. Instead of doing my accounting homework, I’d be writing code.
Whether you believe in karma or not, the first system I had to work on when I was a graduate was an accounting system. I got to learn accounting anyway and I paid attention better. I probably wouldn’t had to read accounting books while I was writing code for an accounting system.
Jason: I just found what you said really interesting Brian because I kind of look at that the same way. I’m a really big reader but technical books make up like a really small slice of a pie as far as the kinds of stuff that I read goes because I have that same kind of belief that you do that would read other stuff, or you read other stuff in whatever way it might be, you can bring that back to programming.
I remember I was reading this Carl Sagan book, I forgot which one it was. But he studied I think physics at the university of Chicago and he said that at the University of Chicago, they wouldn’t have dreamed of putting a physics student to the physics program without also teaching them all about plato’s and Aristotle and all kinds of ancient history and stuff like that. I thought that was really fascinating that place such high importance on that stuff that seemingly doesn’t have anything at all to do with physics but maybe there’s something to that.
Brian: There is but there’s also something that I came across while teaching. It’s something that I will fully admit that I was guilty of doing when I started teaching. It’s something that I see other software developers, they are a little guilty of that when they start teaching and they eventually grow out of it but you model the behaviour in the way you were taught and the things that you feel are important are the things that you want to impress upon your students.
For example, if you think that it’s really important for students to understand how to content binary before they can write a line of code, then that sort of translates to sort of the way the curriculum is developed too. While it is going to be well-rounded, it’s also good for the person who’s doing the instruction and creating the curriculum to be mindful of their own biases too because you can get pretty off-track.
Charles: I think that’s good to know because I tend to be more single-minded and focused and so if I’m going to learn, at this point let’s say I’m going to learn a language, I would just sit down and just focus in and just learn that language. It’s been the same way with most of my coding career. I wanted to learn Rails so that I could build the systems that I needed to build and so I built Rails.
I wanted to be an electrical engineer and then a computer design engineer and so that’s what I did in college. A lot of the other classes, the arts classes, the English classes and stuff, they really felt like a waste of time to me. That’s not to say that what I was learning there wasn’t important. I have a little bit different perspective on it now but I still feel like I took a lot of classes that really didn’t benefit me much, those general classes that everybody has to take.
I don’t know. I think it’s different for different people. For me, I would have been just as happy to take the technical classes, learn the stuff I needed in order to do the job that I wanted to have and then pick this stuff later on when I’m actually interested in it and want to apply myself to it.
Jason: That’s where I was kind of getting at before is that we don’t really know what we’re interested in unless someone makes us do it. That’s kind of the theory behind that is you wouldn’t take those classes on your own because you’d find other things that you’re interested in doing instead, learning a new programming language and something like that. Because that’s the mentality I always had. But then sort of being around students for a very long time, seeing them develop into software developers, there’s some relationships I had with students that are now getting close to 20 years.
Looking back and looking at my progression and their progression saying wow. Those classes individually didn’t probably have any real impact. As a whole, they did because they are exposed in certain ideas. For example, I wasted a whole bunch of time in one of my classes because the instructor was just terrible. I got nothing out of that class. Except I did learn how to deal with an instructor who was terrible which then translated into something much more useful on a job later on.
Jerome: As a person whose degree has absolutely nothing to do with tech, I literally wouldn’t change anything for the world. I think working with criminal justice and working in business actually made me a stronger programmer for me to be able to focus on solving problems for other people and even with our own non-profit. I’m able to see things like a Hogan said, trying to see things through the user’s eyes. I want to piggyback, go back to the teamwork or Jason, he brought up two books, they’re really good books.
I was going to say, I think that was a much easier way to learn teamwork than how I do which was through the military. Being put into a room with like 40 dudes, they don’t even know the importance to work together or getting in trouble and push [00:18:26] is pretty much the crappiest way of learning how to be a team but it actually works pretty well. Our country’s been doing it for 200 something years but if I had to do that part all over again, basic and reading those two books I would probably choose those two books.
Charles: One other thing I just want to pile on that I think a lot of bootcamps haven’t fished and see, it’s just teaching people how to have a career, how to find a job. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to because I’ve opened things up so that people can actually get on my schedule for 15 minutes and talk to me if their a podcast listener.
If you want to do that, you can just go to www.devchat.tv/15minutes it’s still an opening thing that you can do. I get these people in there and they’re like, “Yeah, I went through a bootcamp and I thought I was going to have a job when I got out and it turned out that I didn’t and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” I’m like, “Well, didn’t they teach you how to find a job?” “Well no. They seemed more interested in collecting their fee or they are just teaching us the code part of it.” I feel like that’s a huge disservice because a lot of people feel like that’s the promise that’s been made by these bootcamps.
I know for bootcamps do [00:20:54] on others depending on how connected their founders are.
Jerome: Yeah. I was going to say that. And also, I think they call it their outcomes [00:21:04] and we actually talked to several schools about it. The outcomes [00:21:10] is really big. They have a lot of things that are already put into the place that makes you qualified to use outcome, the careers [00:21:20]. One of the things like for instance, other organization with the founder who I spoke to earlier today, he’s coded school, if you’re in a job for two weeks, they don’t have to talk to you anymore. Something like, usually it’s 7 to 14-day window where you’re a measurable outcome and they don’t teach you how to do those. They have that team that can help you the first time.
But on the first time, you’re pretty much on your own. If you can figure it out, then you’re outlook. That’s what we talk to other code schools about. “Hey guys, if you’re going to be working with veterans, you might want to actually educate them on how to become more self-sufficient and the idea of job hunting in the industry of tech space and possibly just spread that out to your entire cohort.”
I’ve gone pretty much to every code school in this country and we see that across the border where for their outcomes or that dream or promise of a job, they have a team that handles all that stuff from resume writing to teaching you how to have your LinkedIn, but after that first job or if you have to meet certain requirements to be considered in the career, like you’ve missed a meeting or something, they have the right to kick you out of their metrics. This person is saying they didn’t get a job but then you’re like, “Oh read the contract. You missed this appointment that we have record for so you don’t [00:23:03] our metrics.” Stuff like that happens all the time. Where they’re like, “Oh, we’re 90% 90 days.” Small percentage of people there are saying, “Hey, there’s more than that.” You’re like, “They didn’t meet the metrics requirement on the other end.”
We see that often and we talk to them, we try to offer solutions and talk to the code schools about these are some things you need to add because after the first year of graduating, that first year is like the most important year. What we’re seeing is after the first year, that’s when it becomes significantly harder for people who are graduating at code school. They’re usually ready to move on to like a second job or they don’t have the first job that they really wanted. That’s when it gets harder because you’re not dealing with jobs within your school’s network, you’re dealing with the real job market, real coding interviews, things of that nature.
It’s difficult for them to get through that when it comes to they never had to do some of these things because school already have relationships with those companies or what they did like code school’s [00:24:17] on is the technical interview. They don’t teach enough of the problem solving in computer science on a mental stand. Some places without CS fundamentals, they won’t even look at you. You have to at least know, going back to what Hogan said, you have to at least know about binary tree or be able to understand Big O notation, things of that nature, before they even speak to you. We were at Facebook and that was our biggest complaint was a lot of the code schools are coming through and they don’t even know the basics.
Jason: I’d like to offer maybe a little bit different perspective on that. Just a tiny bit about my background, I don’t have a degree on anything. I went to a little bit of college for computer science and I was did great on the homework and always did horrible on the tests and so I don’t really know anything as far as what I was supposed to learn in school, I didn’t really learn it. Stuff like Big O notation and all that kind of stuff, I don’t know those things. It really hasn’t hindered me in my career very much.
There have definitely been a couple occasions I’m sure, although I can’t recall them right now where I’ve had a technical screening where those issues have been a problem for me but it’s almost like the more I go in years, the less the technical stuff even comes up at all because most people aren’t go to be interviewing at big companies that have their hiring processes really down. Most businesses in general are small businesses and I would venture to guess that most people in general work for small businesses and probably most programmers are going to be working for small businesses too where that stuff probably isn’t going to come into the picture too much.
Charles: I agree.
Brian: I agree with that too and that was what we saw with our placement. If you want to go work with Facebook, that’s different than when if want to go work for a local software development company. There’s two parts in that. One of the things that I want to just circle back to really quickly because that’s very interesting, the discussion was kind of getting to how much help should someone provide when a student graduates, how much they should provide when they get a job and they want to move on, is the place that educated them really the place that’s responsible for doing that or is it more along the lines of the code school held their hand so much in getting their first job that they don’t have the skills that they need to get the second job. I was looking for some clarification on that.
Jason: I think of one certain thing, which is to tell them what a job search is and then give them enough information that they can chase down the rest of the answers themselves because I think a lot of people fundamentally misunderstand what a job search is and just how to go about it from a very fundamental standpoint.
Charles: I can [00:27:45] a lot of this together for you. I know people that have gone through bootcamps and the bootcamp really didn’t help then find a job and they kind of found it on their own and I know people who the bootcamp has helped them find a job. We’re talking about this as kind of what are the expectations and what are the reasonable expectations on whose responsibility is what and I think ultimately a lot of it just comes down to what the bootcamp has promised.
If the bootcamp basically says, “You’re going to come out of here with a job.” Then I think they have the responsibility to help people find their first job. If they’re telling people that, “Hey, we’re going to you how to code. We’ll introduce you to some folks and then if you’re a self-starter go-getter then you’ll probably have one and if you’re not then you may not. You may have to work a little harder for it.” I think that’s fair. The other thing is I think they should give them some of the tools. I mean when we’re talking about these small businesses, the small businesses what they care about is what you can do for me.
For me, this is why the open market works well is that the bootcamps that are doing well at this that are connected to the communities, that understands the jobs, that understand the companies that are hiring people and can go and teach these folks how to do what these companies need and then put them out there and gain a little bit of a reputation for a place where people can come and get the people that can do the job and they get a little bit of a break on price because these folks really want their first job. I think it works all around.
Hogan: I worry about that.
Charles: I think a lot of these bootcamps sell something that they’re not delivering and I think that’s where some of the problems come in.
Hogan: I worry about a bootcamp working closely with businesses to fill jobs because what happens when the job changes, will the students have the skills, will the developer have the skills to migrate to the next thing that will inevitably come.
Jerome: I 100% agree with Hogan. We’re seeing that in the community. When school folks have less on getting the core programming skills and more on the business relationships, it’s harder for those graduates to adapt to the job changes.
Charles: These markets are synergistic. I’m not saying that the bootcamp should teach to the test or to the job. What I’m saying is they should be talking to these businesses and making sure that they understand what they need so the people coming out of the bootcamp along with the fundamentals have the skills that these businesses need. If they’re communicating well with the other market that they’re serving, then they can tailor their curriculum a bit to where they’re actually putting people out there who are hireable because they can solve more problems from these businesses.
Jerome: That’s a really good point.
Jason: What I was going to say earlier about the job search is employment and running a business aren’t two different things, they’re just two different points on a continuum. If you’re looking for a job, you’re basically a one person service business and you’re looking for the equivalent of a client although you don’t use that word for it. If you want to sell your service, you have to know how to sell and market your service and a job hunt is a sales and marketing activity.
I think most jobs seekers don’t bother to educate themselves in the areas of sales and marketing very much or at all. Selling is the activity of having a conversation with a prospect and seeing if it’s right for that prospect to buy what you’re selling and marketing is everything you do to get to that point. I think a lot of people, they don’t even make that distinction to begin with which is a really useful distinction to make and beyond that, they don’t know how to do those things. I think just telling students that much would be a huge thing that bootcamps do. I don’t know if bootcamps do that or not because I haven’t had that exposure but I do know that that’s something that a lot of job seekers are lacking.
Charles: I find that it varies from bootcamp to bootcamp. Some of them do really well at some of the stuff and some of them don’t.
Charles: That’s the thing. I think if there’s any practical thing that comes out of this or if somebody is listening to this and they’re new, instead of just saying there’s a bootcamp in the big town near me, I’m going to go and sign up, actually check them out. Go find out what they’re about, go find out how they approach this, go find out how well their graduates place, talk to a few people who have been through a bootcamp.
Charles: If you’re going to drop $12,000 to go through a six-month program, it’s worth an hour, two hours of your time to make sure that it’s a good investment.
Jerome: There was an individual in the community. Darn it, I can’t remember this guy’s name but he started his dev school. I don’t know if you guys heard that horror story of like dev school horror story of 2016 and which he started online school and then he just banished and just took his students’ money and he was gone after maybe one or two cohorts. He was a really good Rails developer. He actually worked on Code Mentor sometimes when he was between sessions and things in that nature but he’s just a really bad person. He ended up taking a lot of his students money and I think a couple of the code schools stepped up and help those students. They paid this guy an [00:33:52] education and they covered them, letting them learn at their schools for zero cost but I can’t stress enough research over and over again.
This guy who started this dev school, we were actually are non-profit, was in the process of hiring him until we found things that just didn’t seem right on him when we did a background check and we decided we’re not going to bring this person on our team and thankfully we didn’t because this guy he ditches his own thing. It was just really, really horrible experience. If you guys want a close report tech [00:34:32], pretty much everybody in tech covered the story of dev school just disappearing off the face of earth with all his students’ money.
That is a horror story. That’s actually the lowest. The highest I’ve seen is $17,000 to $21,000 and that’s a lot of money to put down out of pocket or to go through microloan company upstart or something because that’s what students are doing now. That’s a lot of money to pull out just to have your school disappear. Please research as much as you can.
Hogan: I agree with that more. It was a really sad story to hear about that. This happens with colleges too. This happens with for profit college and things like that too. You really do need to put a lot of time and look for references and things like that when you’re going out there. We just hate to see that happen to people that are trying to make a better life for themselves.
Can we talk about placement for a moment because one of the questions that has always come up for my students has always been, there’s an expectation that they’re going to finish a program and they’re going to get a job. I have students that are bright. They’re very good, competent programmers that are having a hard time finding entry-level positions. It seems that our industry is very interested right now in filling senior positions. I’m not terribly interested in entry-level positions. I’ve always wondered, I’m not seeing job postings for entry-level positions yet I see bootcamps starting up all the time looking to place programmers on entry-level positions. I’m sort of wondering, where are these jobs at that the bootcamps are filling if we’re not seeing job postings for entry-level junior developers.
Jerome: They’re being called frontend developer instead of junior developer.
Brian: But a front-end developer needs two years of react now, right?
That’s one thing we’re seeing out there in the industry. But outside of that, we’re literally seeing, I’m seeing people, unless you’re on some of the cooler areas that have more robust understanding of how to uphire, how to cultivate developers. I know San Francisco and Seattle, they’re doing good jobs at that. What we’re seeing is it’s easier to learn full stack and get a frontend developer job than just trying to find a junior developer position or like these going through talent agencies or hiring agencies which suck but for the most part, they are also basing to be the gatekeepers for some of the more junior positions. But when you’re talking about full stack Rails, everybody wants one year production experience as you go further out.
If you’re looking for that experience, go to www.co.gov and they have a bunch of really cool Rails projects that they’re working on for the government. Every time I speak to a civilian and they’re looking for those types of jobs I’m like, “Yo, these are some of the things that you should be working on and working with so that you can show that you were able to do something big or work on something big. If you got a small part, you didn’t blow anything up. That’s a really great thing to have on your resume and your portfolio.”
Jason: I can offer a perspective on junior dev placement just based on my own experience when I was a junior developer and how I got my first couple of jobs. I was pretty lucky that my dad is a programmer and my very first programming job was working for my dad. From ages 16 to 18, I worked for my dad. Thinking back, what I know now, thinking back to the kind of work I did then, I’m just horrified that anybody allowed me to do what I did because there is no version control or anything and just copying and pasting stuff from one place to another. That was my first experience which was kind of handed to me.
When I moved away for college, I couldn’t work for my dad anymore and I had a hard time getting another programming job because I didn’t have any real experience. All I had was two years of working for my dad doing delphi stuff which I don’t think was very common in the job market. I had to be pretty resourceful. I stopped working for my dad in 2002. It wasn’t until 2005 that I got my first real programming job and I got that really by just weaselling my way into it.
I saw an ad somewhere, I think it was the actual newspaper where I saw the ad and I applied to it and I went and talked to the people and I didn’t even come close to getting the job. They basically told me to get lost. About six months later, I saw the same ad again. I’m like, “Okay, you guys still haven’t found anybody. You obviously still need somebody.” I contacted them again and basically said that, and they brought me in and interviewed me again and this time, they hired me. That was just kind of sheer persistence, how I got my first programming job. I was totally unqualified and I didn’t try to lie or anything to get my way in. I was just persistent about it and I said, “If you hire me to do this, I can figure out and do it.” And I did figure it out. That’s one way to go about it.
Charles: I’m actually working on a book on this and my perspective on this also comes down to the way that people look for employees or look for programmers. There aren’t enough senior devs to fill all the senior dev jobs and that’s why you see them listed on job boards and such and you don’t see as many of the junior jobs because essentially the way people find people is they first look in their own networks so, “Who do I know that can do this job?” If they don’t anybody then they go and look at the people they trust and see if they know anybody. Usually that’s their co-workers people in their team, people the company. “Do you know anybody who can do this job?” Because if they come with a reference, it’s less risky. Then, if that doesn’t work, then they start looking around the community and they go, “Okay, how can I know if somebody’s really a top-notch candidate?”
Usually what happens is they’ll wind up going to the local code meetup or something like that and seeing who’s there and seeing if they can meet somebody who looks good or they’ll go to the local group’s mailing list and do the same thing. They’ll go to online communities and find people who can work remotely. And then after all of that, if all of that fails then they can actually go list the job.
Jason: Yeah Chuck, everything you just said, that’s my exact experience too.
Brian: I just have some tiny bit of feedback on that because one of the things that we always talk about as software developers is making sure that you get involved in the community. Do some open-source things, go to the meetups, do things like that. I can tell you that most of the students that I had they were they just weren’t able to do those kinds of things because when they got into class, they want to work. When they get them for work, they took care of their kids. There are a lot of people who are lucky enough to be able to say, “The way to get a job in this field is to go out and do open-source where they can get involved in the community and make an MBN network.” What do you do for those people who can’t do that?
Charles: That’s tricky.
Brian: I think we have to be very careful with the advice we give on how to get a job in the field. It’s very easy to say, “I was able to do it because I didn’t have any kids. I was able to go to meetups, and I was able to do those kinds of things. I didn’t have those other obligations. Gosh, where would I be if I had kids? Where would I be if my wife and I both have to work to put food on the table and I had to get my homework done around that same time?”
Charles: I think that’s a fair criticism. I’m also just going to point out that this is the nature of the market and that’s the way people look for people. If you want that job, that’s the most effective way to find it. If you can’t find it, what do you do? To be honest, I don’t know if there’s a good answer. You have to spend some of the time finding these people and getting to them before they get far enough down the list to where you can’t participate at that level.
Jason: I have a response to what Brian send. Basically I think what we’re talking about, at least one thing we’re talking about is differentiating yourself a little bit. If you go to meet a group and especially if you give a talk or something, then you’re somebody. Somebody going there looking for employees has a way to decide who to talk to. It’s like the person who gave the presentation, they must know what they’re talking about and you don’t need to wait until you know a lot of stuff to give those presentations by the way, or you can do some writing online but to speak to people who have kids and jobs and stuff like that, speaking for my own experience, as somebody who has had to make time from all your time’s already spoken for but somehow you still have to make some extra time, there’s one single thing that I’ve found has been effective. That is simply to shift my whole day up a little bit.
The worst advice I’ve ever heard is I was asking somebody for some business advice and their advice is to sleep less. That’s the dumbest advice you can possibly give. What I have found is instead of waking up at 6:00 and going to bed at 11:00 or whatever, wake up at 5:00 and go to bed at 10:00 or whatever it is, I’m not very good at math, just shifting your day up a little bit, it’s amazing, the productivity difference, at least for me, of getting up. Part of that is, if you get up super early, your kids probably aren’t awake yet, a lot of people aren’t awake yet so they’re not interfering with your productivity and stuff like that. That’s a one piece of advice I would give to somebody with not very much time and you somehow have to make time, that has helped me.
Charles: One thing I’m going to add to that though is, I mean that’s prime time. That’s just not, “Oh, well I have an hour to spend.” It’s an hour you can spend writing blog posts, or writing open source, or contributing to the community in these ways to get you noticed. It’s not just, “Oh, I’m getting up and I’m going to feel more productive.” It’s time where you get up, you do the right things to wake up and be in that place where then you can get out and make these contributions that get you noticed.
Brian: Yeah, I asked that question and somewhat of a rhetorical because I want to hear what other had to say about it. I think it’s important to address it. And I’ll tell you the advice I have given everybody and the people who have taken it, it’s worked well with them. A half an hour a day. Make a habit. This is what I do personally. I had done it since college. Make it a habit to invest a half an hour a day in your own personal development. When it becomes a habit, it is literally something that you just do without thinking about it. It’s much easier because if you’re a very busy person, you can’t just say, “I’m just going to watch TV tonight. I’m going to blow off tonight and I’m going to blow off tomorrow night and I’ll spend all day Saturday learning React.” For example. Because this isn’t just for people who are getting started, this is for people who want to keep going or keep wanting to learn other things.
Saturday comes and all of a sudden there’s a wedding you have to go to which you forgot about or there’s a kid’s soccer name you don’t want to miss, now your Saturday is gone. If you had just pick a way half an hour everyday and you had to miss one of those, it’s not as big of a loss as missing a whole day of your professional development. This is the advice I’ve given to authors who want to finish their books on time. This is the advice that I give to students who want to better themselves. This is the advice that I give to programmers who feel they’re so stressed they can’t learn the next new thing. You’d be surprised how many hours a half an hour a day adds up to in the course of three months.
Jerome: I was going to say I actually follow both of those. I shift my day up and I try to do 30 minutes of self-education every day. It’s got that early to bed, early to rise thought process. “I’ll wake up at 4:30am I can work out and do code and now I have time with my family or my students, things in that nature.” I think a combination of both would be like one of the best things you can do.
Charles: I’m going to put another book recommendation for this. It’s called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. He just talks about how to get your day started so that your peak performance first thing in the morning. He basically says to set up a morning routine and if you get up at 4:30am or 5:00am, if you don’t have to be at work till 10:00am, then wake up at 8:00am or 9:00am. I mean, whatever works for you but you get up. He has a couple of things to help you wake up and be ready to go and then yeah, you just work that in.
You do that 30 minutes of self-improvement first thing in the morning. There’s nothing else that’s going to conflict with it because nobody’s planning stuff into your day at 5:00 am. As you’re doing that, it becomes a habit but it’s the first thing you do so you just get it out of the way. It’s never going to not happen because it’s just part of the thing that you do.
Jerome: You’d be surprised [00:50:55] add something to your calendar like 5:00 in the morning. I mean Charles, you’re married. I know that your wife, you just wake up, “Oh why do I [00:51:04]?” My calendar [00:51:09] into your calendar. “It’d before 6:00 am and usually my wife has asked me something that she wants to do, damn [00:51:17].” I don’t know anybody else [00:51:21] has that issue but I [00:51:23] you all the time.
My favourite book when it came out, changing my life and my thought processes, The Way of the SEAL. If anybody hasn’t read that book, it’s a great book. I started waking up at 4:00 am in the morning SEALs they wake up 4:30 in the morning for no reason outside of the fact that to prepare better for the day and the more time you have to prepare yourself, the less opportunity you have to jeopardize and have to pick between your own self-improvement versus [00:51:56].
You can do your education, you do your workout, you make sure that everything you need is already enough for you to feel happy, it’s done first thing in the morning, whatever it is that you prepared for. I already was an early riser because [00:52:16] likes to wake up early. [00:52:20] into my life.
Brian: Go ahead Chuck.
Charles: I just want to bring it back around. I mean we’ve been talking about bootcamps and coming into programming and we’ve already been at this for almost an hour which is usually where we start wrapping it up. What I’m looking for I guess, is kind of after everything that we talked about, if people want to get into programming, is this the way to go or how do you decide if this is the way to go?
Jerome: I think this is a way to go and I think it depends on that person. I would have lost my mind if I had to go through computer science program or any college because I absolutely hate Math. I don’t know if the rest of you guys like math classes. I ended up, in high school, having to go through all my math classes in one year because I absolutely hated them and I didn’t want to do it. I was just, “Oh, let me get this stuff out of the way, don’t want to do it.”
That varies from person to person. Some people are going to be [00:53:28], some people they have enough EQ and IQ to be able to go through code school, bootcamp, and they’re able to knock things out. I think it is the things that a person needs to actually shop and look at all their options and have an actual plan.
The problem that I’m seeing is that kids, I keep saying kids, even those people who are older than me, people, they end up going through these programs and they don’t have a plan, like an action plan for their life. What they want to get out of this. That’s one thing I recommend regardless of what path they’re going, having your own plan. Write a plan while you’re going through the process of, “What do you want to do?” and with a skill, like, “What are your goals?”
Proper planning. Don’t spend $17,000, $21,000 at a code school and move somewhere where they don’t even think about that language, they’re only doing .NET stuff. These are the things that I’m seeing. Plan, I think that’s the biggest thing that you should take away from this. [00:55:20] is right but you should formulate a plan based on what you do or what you want out of it.
Brian: Absolutely. That is so well put. I want to add. I guess from someone who’s taught at a college level, my thoughts on this, if you’re looking to get into software development, don’t pay anybody any money to learn how to code because there’s lots of resources out there for you to learn the basics of programming on your own. Do that first. Decide if you really like the idea and you like struggling with that kind of stuff because what I can promise you is that no college or bootcamp can guarantee you a job.
You have to attend the college classes or the bootcamp, you have to do all the assignments, you have to put in the work, and you have to put in the leg work to get out there and get the job. The pathway is going to be up to you to decide what you want to do. No matter which way you choose, you’re going to have to do the work so before you lay out any money, use any of the hundreds of free resources out there and find out if you really like it. And if you really like it, count down the money and get to work and get yourself a job.
Jerome: That’s one of the things you make people do because we don’t charge our veterans who come to our program at all. One thing we make them do is, before you do this, let’s do a project. Let’s learn the basics, what [00:56:52] says. And find out if you really want to deal with this. I actually start putting text to editor and find out you absolutely hate this stuff. I would hate to waste your time or my time and find out that this isn’t the path for you. I definitely [00:57:13]I wish we had that type of system where you can just [00:57:15] each other’s comments or like each other’s comments like Facebook. But that is a really solid piece of advice.
Charles: I completely agree with everything that you guys are saying. I also find that a lot of people they choose the bootcamps because they don’t feel like they don’t have the self-discipline to actually go out and do the work without somebody looking over their shoulder but what I found is the people that get the most and get the job out of the bootcamps are the ones that are kind of the self-starters any way. To a certain degree, you have to have that self-discipline one way or the other. Then, it’s just a matter of ‘is this the best way for me to learn this or not’?
I completely agree with everything that you guys have said. I actually have a neighbour here who’s learning to code and she’s going to Free Code Camp which is free. It’s self paced and they have a chat channel that people work through. There are a lot of different ways to go. Definitely take your time and make sure that it’s what’s going to be the most effective for you to get you what you want and that just goes back to that planning aspect that we’ve kind of talked our way around and that Jerome put really, really well.
Jerome: [00:59:08] guys. I love Free Code Camp. Somebody of our guys go to there and they know and learn how to code, they want like a higher level education and so they search of us, so many troops and veterans. I absolutely love that because like he’s doing his thing and we [00:59:27] we get bit by the code bug and we can actually throw really sucky, really horrid problems and things that while they’re in the cohort and they don’t complain.
I think that’s the best part about piggyback and going to find the free resources and actually doing things on your own first because if you realize it, you get out of the way and it sucks or there are moments where it sucks and you still love it, you’re going to appreciate it a whole lot more versus somebody who they might haven’t touched any code at all. I get recommendations from people who want to help them [01:00:08] all the time about maybe you should learn how to code. I’m like, “Maybe you should learn how to code.” Because they might not like programming. Let’s first find out if they actually enjoy this before we even push it on them.
Charles: Alright. Well let’s go ahead and get to some picks. Jason, do you want to start us off with picks?
Jason: Sure. I like to do those two books that I mentioned earlier as my picks even though I think I’ve done them both as picks before. They’re just so good they’re worth mentioning multiple times. Those two books are How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Charles: Very cool. Brian what are your picks?
Brian: Alright, my picks. I’m going to plug Corporate Confidential again. It’s Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know and What To Do About Them. It’s by Cynthia Shapiro. It’s a very, very quick read but it’s probably one of the most important reads that you can do for your career. As a matter of what level you’re in at a job, you’re going to learn something from this book. It’s just a fantastic read. If you’re like me, you’re blood will boil at certain points because certain things will just feel unfair. It’s good to know how the game is played if you’re going to play the game. I highly recommend that.
Another book I want to recommend is one of my all time favourite books. I’ve bought so many copies for students and fellow developers. It’s called Land the Tech Job You Love by Andy Lester. It is your field manual for getting a job. It’s all the advice that you need to get a job. From the standpoint from not only is this a good job, is it the job that I want? Is it the job that’s a great fit for me because I think a lot of people miss that part. They think that the person who’s going to pay them is the person who has all the power and they kind of have to bow down to that person but what’s important to remember when you’re searching for that job is it has to be a usually beneficial situation.
One of the best part of that book is it starts out with the typical conversation of. “I got this great job, it’s got a much better salary.” “Yeah, but where is it?” “Well, it’s an hour and a half drive away.” “Well, isn’t that kind of far?” “Well yeah, but then I get to listen to audiobooks in the car.” Making the justifications for kind of all the wrong reasons and then it turns out that the person isn’t really that excited about the job. The book spends a lot of time making sure that the job is the right fit for you, that you’re a right fit for the job and then how to go about getting it. It’s a fantastic book. It’s Land the Tech Job You Love by Andy Lester.
Charles: Jerome what are your picks?
Jerome: Well, I have a pick and a shoutout I guess. My first pick would be The Way of the Fight by Georges St-Pierre. It’s a really great book on like learning how life is. At first, it was recommended to me. I was like, “Dude, I’m in code not in convent. I don’t need to be reading[01:03:20] by a MMA fighter.” He’s like, “No man, it’s a really good book. It teaches you about life.” After reading it, I was like, “Wow, this is really intriguingly good.” I recommend that.
I guess my second pick is more of a shoutout to ID.me for working with Vets Who Code and helping us with our new platform and giving us a better deal. They even gave [01:03:46]. Very happy that we’re able to work with these guys. And we’re going to debut our new platform on [01:03:55] weekend. They’ll be a part of the things we’re doing to help more veterans get into tech and learn those skills.
Charles: Very cool. Every time I hear good things happening for Vets Who Code, I just smile to myself because I think it’s a terrific cause.
Jerome: Thank you.
Charles: I’m going to jump in with a couple of picks. The first one is like I said, I’m working on a book about how to find a tech job. Sound like there’s one out there but mine will be better I’m sure. If you want, I have an email course on how to get noticed. It’s 10 Ways to get noticed to get a job. If you got to www.getacoderjob.com you can sign up for that mailing list and you can get all of those emails. I think you’ll get 11 emails total.
I also have a few conferences coming up. I think the next three are DevOps Remote Conf, JS Remote Conf, and Freelance Conf, and then the Ruby Remote Confs right after that in April and May. If you’re looking for some conference to attend and you can’t afford to travel or whatever then these are great options for that. We’re covering a lot of great tech and we have a lot of great speakers coming up for those. Definitely check those out.
The last one is when I was in New York City, I was in New York City for Microsoft Connect which is their big marketing event and they invite all their big customers to come out and see their big announcements and stuff. I took a minute to go down to Flatiron School which is in lower Manhattan and just checked out their space and talked to a few people who work there.
It was super cool. Their bootcamp out there, they’re right next to Battery Park which is where you hop on the ferry to go see the Statue of liberty and stuff. Anyway, it’s super cool space, cool people, great stuff. I know they have an online program and I also know that they have in-person programs if you’re in New York City. You can go check them as well and I’ll put a link to them in the shownotes. Lots of just fun and cool stuff out there and hopefully this helps some people who are looking to get into programming.
We’ll go ahead and wrap this one up and we’ll catch everyone next week.
Jason: Bye guys!
Brian: Bye everybody.
Jerome: Bye everybody.