Hiring · Engineers

Does anyone actually hire from 'developer bootcamps'?

A. L. Entrepreneurial

November 30th, 2016

Programs like General Assembly and Flatiron School are touted as effective ways to mint new developers very quickly, and a bunch of them boast hiring rates over 90% and average starting salaries of 100k or more.

And yet, looking around, there don't seem to be many jobs for entry-level Rails or iOS developers. If you look around on job boards, there simply is not much competition for entry-level talent. Most of the job growth appears to be in academic stuff like AI and data science which requires at the very least a BS and probably an MS. The run-of-the-mill web and mobile developer positions all demand at least some level of experience (generally 2-6 years). It just doesn't seem like there is enough demand for inexperienced talent to make this kind of program effective.

But if the stats that these bootcamps throw out are true, there are companies hiring people at $100k who, twelve weeks ago, had never opened a text editor in their lives.

If you've hired from one of these programs, what made you turn to them? Was it a success? And if it's really possible to build a rails developer from scratch in 10 weeks, why not just just do it in-house through an internship program and avoid paying commission to these schools? And why do most companies still ask for "at least a Bachelors in CS" for web and mobile development positions?

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

November 30th, 2016

I think there are several beliefs that are assumed in the OP's question that may be erroneous. 

First off,  the assumption that the job market is effectively modeled by what's on job boards is probably faulty, especially for entry level jobs that require any specialized  technical skill. In my experience entry level jobs for technical positions like programmers are often filled not through job boards,  but by Networking. The problem with job boards for any entry-level position is that you get flooded with applicants and because of their limited experience, you have very little information to really discriminate among them to find just the one that you want to work with.  Harring managers don't want to go through that experience, and they don't have to if they find a different way to fill the job. So they do. 

Networking provides that natural filter.  First of all, your network itself acts as a filter that limits the total applicant pool to only people that know somebody in your network. since you generally trust the people in your network this does a great job of filtering out a whole bunch of people that you otherwise might feel obligated to since you generally trust the people in your network this does a great job of filtering out a whole bunch of people that you otherwise might feel obligated to interview or at least read their resumes. As a result,  you will see much fewer applicants in total and  probably will feel better about the selection you make.  

Secondly, when you are using Networking as your filter, people tend to come in at random times so often you only have to interview a single person that's a much simpler decision then to choose from tens or hundreds of candidates this is the problem of over choice.  

Often,  when hiring technical entry-level people the timing is not even critical. What you want to do is get to know this entry-level person and do so in a low risk way, before the need is critical.  

As a hiring manager, I often recommend to people that they volunteer to do a project for someone just so that person can get to know them. Or to go to events like Hackathons, where again they are just showcasing what they can do, and their work ethic,  not a resume filled with facts that have little predictive value to whether you will be a good candidate at this company or not.

 Heckathorne's and other such events and programsare good for another reason, because they actually provide another way of sorting through the candidates and making a selection that is more specifically related to how you work and what you choose to do, as opposed to what you know or work that you have been assigned in the past that you might not be in love with. There may be winners. 

Or there may be people who choose  to work on a particular kind of app that seems most relevant to the kind of work the hiring manager might want you to do. People who are self-motivated to work in a particular area or particular technology are far easier to manage than those who are willing to do what's inside but lack internal motivation to do master it.

 Another erroneous assumption in this question is that these programs meant new Programmer's from scratch and a small number of days or weeks. More likely they provide a opportunity  for someone to showcase their interest in that technology or industrial area, and to gain more experience in it. Or even that they are learning a new programming language, but may have prior skills and experience in developing code for their own personal use, even though they have never had  A formal job doing so. Or, they might just be showing if they are a very very quick study and learning new technologies, which in it self can't be a strong reason to hire them.  

As a hiring manager for my startups, I have often use these techniques to select people who turn out to be self motivated, problem solving, overachievers, who often are the kind of employees who are most successful in startups to hire effectively. 

Often, I do not even have a budget to hire someone extra, so I certainly would not advertise on a job board. But a volunteer comes along, finds me and makes me an offer to create something of value for me, that I can't currently fund and was therefore deferring. If they don't complete it, or don't turn out to fit with the team, the project is self-limiting, and we part as friends and they got more experience and a chance to show off their abilities or check out a team. 

But if they are successful, their work then generates the revenue, or saves cost,  sufficient to pay for that person to continue in that role. And I did not need to read a single resume or do more than one informational interview. 

Zachary Jones Architect, Advocate, Change Agent.

November 30th, 2016

Yes, I have.  You need to know how to screen for the ones that are ready immediately, and those that need to hit a couple more personal projects before you can onboard them smoothly.  Look for the ones that worked as a teacher in the school, after their coursework.  Also, a strong onboarding 'program' is very important for success.  

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

November 30th, 2016

I was once on a talk given by one of these bootcamps companies. During the talk, the company boasted that 90% of their graduates end up in a job. But, the devil is in the details.

What this company does (I'm not saying all of them do it), is that they indeed position the student in a post in one of the startups that have agreements with. Once the student is in any of those companies, they proclaim that the student is hired. What they didn't say was that the student was on a test for three months (or sometime frame like that). If the student didn't perform as expected, the company simply didn't hired him/her formally. Ohhh ... and the test was not paid. So in the end this 90% positioning was an spin of: Internship!

They boasting that 90% of their students got a position after finishing was like a university boasting that 100% of their students got "real work" experience by finishing their course.


Kenneth Jiang Programmer. Entrepreneur.

December 1st, 2016

If you determine how good a developer is primarily by looking at his/her years of experience (sounds like you do), then you probably should never hire someone fresh out of a dev bootcamp because by definition their experience is only 3 months.

However, since I value one's ability to code a lot more than the number of years in coding, I did end up hiring a few from dev bootcamps with mixed results. One of them was particularly outstanding. Others not so much but quite teachable. Considering I have also had mixed results in hiring engineers with many years of experience, I'll certainly tap into dev bootcamps again.

Tom DiClemente Management Consulting | Interim CEO/COO | Coach

December 1st, 2016

Hello Andrey,

First, I echo Scott's comment that job boards are not a good datum for measurement. I'm not sure who would post a developer job on a job board. When we look for talent, we want to know that the person has been pre-qualified.

I cannot comment on the claims of the bootcamps. I have no reason to doubt them and would take them at their word.

In my world though, I do not hire without significant experience.

Also, in my experience, the majority of ruby developers are being placed through IT service and staffing firms. We have our own networks but most companies we know are going through IT staffing.

Thanks, Tom

Joseph Cappuccio Founder of Proxi

December 1st, 2016

Coming from an early-stage startup perspective, I would love to run into mobile iOS talent at a coding bootcamp. In my experience most of them are unfamiliar with mobile however, particularly for iOS. If they are familiar, it would be using some sort of hybrid development framework like Ionic. Occasionally I have seen someone who is good-enough with Java for Android development, but it is still uncommon.