Hiring engineers · Coding Bootcamps

Has anyone had good luck hiring engineers out of coding bootcamps or online code schools?

Anonymous

April 28th, 2015

I've heard mixed results about the quality of candidates coming out of online coding schools and 12 week bootcamps. Are they able to be successful in a development role or do they need a lot of on-the-job-training? Just wondering what others' experiences have been. And, are some sources better than others?

Rob G

April 28th, 2015

@ David;  Kimberly never stated that she was going to build her startup with someone from a 12 week coding school or bootcamp - "But it baffles me that people would seriously consider building a startup with the most inexperienced, cheapest labor they can find..."    She simply asked if they could be successful in a coding roll or if they needed a lot of OJT.  That said, maybe she is considering hiring someone of this calibre to help her build an MVP.   She's building a startup and doing what entrepreneurs do - she's improvising and doing whatever it takes to move the ball forward and for that she deserves kudos not a dope slap.  If hiring a green 'developer' gets her closer to a prototype or MVP that she can then improve with more skilled labor down the road then more power to her. I (and most investors) tend to admire scrappy entrepreneurs who find a way to get it done. 

Joe Monastiero CEO, Founder nFlate

April 28th, 2015

I went to a Start-up Weekend in NoCal 16 months ago with my brilliant idea in hand. I pitched my idea to the group, got 4 people interested in working on it with me. One was brilliant, another (who was not) called a brilliant friend and brought him in to help and a 3rd grabbed me at the end of the weekend and asked to join the team. We've been together for 16 months now, them working part-time, me full-time (bootstrapped). We release our 1st product next week. Many investors are now interested.

So, at the risk of not sounding snarky, sure, it can work. It did for me.

A caveat - I'm pretty technical, so I believe that has made the difference in holding the team together and in buy-in.

Good luck!

Rob Mitchell Senior Java Software Engineer at Direct Commerce

April 28th, 2015

(great last name, btw!)

As a 28 year software pro, I took a "bootcamp" weekend course in iPhone Xcode development and for me, it was awesome. I had dedicated time and resources for the 3-day weekend and was able to be extremely helpful in the development and debugging on an iPhone app and server REST app at the same time.

But to try and hire someone without years of education and experience with just a bootcamp certificate, yikes, you're taking a big risk, IMO.

David Crooke Serial entrepreneur and CTO

April 28th, 2015

We do it at my day job. They take a long time to ramp up, and a lot of mentoring, but you can hire them cheap. Not at all suitable for a startup.

Mike Web Developer

April 28th, 2015

People that attend bootcamps come from hugely varied backgrounds.  They can also be attracted to a variety of technologies and interested in developing particular skills - or, they might not know which direction they want to go yet.

No one is solving industry problems by comparing bootcamp grads to CS degree grads. You're leaps ahead of the industry if you're building your team by utilizing those people in the best roles for their respective skill sets.  You'll get the best results if you evaluate each developer individually.  Developers that attend bootcamps are not as homogeneous as students in CS degree programs - so, it's much more difficult to compare apples to apples, and difficult to rank bootcamps in terms of quality.  In the end, it's the individual that is driving their own success, not the bootcamp's company name.

When you hire developers or engineers from traditional sources, do you get mixed results?

Patrick Hidalgo

April 28th, 2015

I happen to be a graduate of one of these bootcamps and I don't have a CS background.  I have been lucky enough to have been hired by a larger company that has many different products in different languages, environments, styles, etc.  

The bootcamp was for Ruby, but it did touch on many topics in the software engineering realm.  It has given me what I would call a tool belt that is a mile wide and in inch deep.  Honestly, there is no way I could stack up with someone with experience and that should come out in the interview process.

I would only hire someone out of a bootcamp if I had a strong team in place that could offer a lot of on the job training, mentorship,etc. or if that person already had a CS background and was learning a new language.

Edward Robertshaw Started TinyCall

April 28th, 2015

Depends on your expectations.

Can you learn a 3 or 4 year Computer Science degree in ~90 days? Not likely. Can you take a smart person and give them new skills? Yes you can. Of course you should research the boot camp as well, like university's quality varies.

Overall, if you have lots of experienced engineers already, it can be a smart move as they can support the continued learning and delegate simpler tasks. You can justify a lower salary while they ramp up and continue to learn. 

If you want an engineer who can work alone and build a new product from scratch... well thats not so smart.


Lane Campbell Lifelong Entrepreneur

April 28th, 2015

It really depends on the person.  You need a technical person with years of experience to vet them.

Ana Ulin Experienced builder of software and teams

April 28th, 2015

"I've heard mixed results about the quality of candidates coming out of ..." <-- you could add any other source to the end of this sentence, and it would be true.

You need to interview and evaluate these candidates in the same way you would do anyone else. Some of them are awesome, some of them have a lot of potential but need coaching/mentoring, and some are not very good. Same goes for recents graduate from "brand name" institutions.

Bootcamp grads can be perfectly suitable for a startup; I've hired a couple of them in the past, for small companies, and had success. Possibly they are even better suited to a startup than an average recent grad, because bootcamp grads on average seem more energized and "hungry".

David Crooke Serial entrepreneur and CTO

April 28th, 2015

I think people may be making different interpretations of the question ... when I saw it I thought:

1. Smart person with a college degree, but NOT computer science or too close to it
2. Been to a 3 month programming (NOT software engineering) class
3. Cheap 

Everyone has to start somewhere, but a startup is not a place to mentor newbies, you want a small number of highly skilled people who know what they're doing. I wouldn't hire a brand new computer science grad from MIT either.